This summer I had the opportunity to see the Broadway hit "Waitress." Even though the show did not win any Tony Awards, leading actress Jessie Mueller's performance at the award show left every viewer in awe, sealing a most positive run. Mueller plays Jenna, a waitress in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. The show revolves around her unwanted pregnancy and how she handles her relationships with her co-workers, husband and the doctor she ends up sleeping with.
For the entitreity of the show, I just felt so much anger towards the character of the husband. He portrays hyper-masculine men all around the world that fill themselves with delusions of grandeur. He portrays men who think of women as objects, only there for the men's benefit. It was heart-wrenching to watch at times because ultimately these issues do exist in our world today.
However, it also reminded me of all the incredible women in my life. It reminded me of my mother at first, a woman who would always do what needed to be done for her children, no matter the consequences. I also thought of how I would love to take my mother to see the show and hold her hand the whole time, all while counting my blessings to have the opportunity.
Then I thought of my grandmother who we actually call Grandmother. I recalled her success in the business world decades ago, in a time where women were not in upper management, or any type of management, for that matter. I felt pride.
Then the following weeks after the performance, I relentlessly listened to the soundtrack and I thought of my dad's mother, Meme. The song I played most was "What's Inside," the opening track. The lyrics "sugar, butter, flour" echoed in my head as I thought of my grandmother's talent for baking. I then flashed back to the character Jenna baking as a coping mechanism. She baked to express how she really felt about certain situations and interactions. And I thought that maybe my grandmother baked to cope as well.
As I listened to the song "She Used to Be Mine" more and more often, I slowly released how complex the character of Jenna actually is though. Mueller simulates just a million different emotions during this number, thoroughly rounding out how beautifully imperfect Jenna actually is.
I then see images of my grandmother flash through my head of what her life might have looked like. Her in the hospital having my father at the age of 16. Her teaching herself how to type to work for The Wall Street Journal. Her running, alongside my grandfather, a chain of flower shops all across Atlanta.
Then there are the moments that I do not need to imagine at all. The moment where she taught me how to sing, infusing a passion in me for the rest of my life. The moments of jumping up and down on her bed as a child. The moment she told me that Loft was hiring employees for Black Friday, starting my entire retail career. That moment we got into a fight at a family event. That moment where I sat next to her at the funeral of her sister, my great-aunt.
These images flash through my head as I am thankful for my grandmother and all the amazing women in my life. I am thankful for their tenacity, for their zest, for their passion, for their passion. Because they are all of that "mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie."