Last year, around this time, American Repertory Theater at Harvard was announcing its 2017/18 season. Among the list of productions was Jagged Little Pill. This new musical would be set to the music of Alanis Morissette’s hit 1995 album of the same name. As a big fan of the album and Alanis, I was excited and hoped the start of the show would mean a Boston visit from Alanis.
Fast forward to last month. Jagged Little Pill had begun to conduct previews at A.R.T. and the cast and crew of the show were busy ironing out the kinks before Opening Night. I checked social media everyday for a sign that Morissette would make an appearance, until that sign eventually arrived in the form of an instagram post.
Immediately after seeing the post, I headed over to Cambridge after work. On the way to A.R.T., I encountered tons of traffic on the Mass Pike and I was afraid the delay would cause me to miss her.
After sitting bumper to bumper for at least 20 minutes, I finally broke loose and turned the corner onto the street A.R.T. is on. As my car inched to the theater, I caught a glimpse of bright blue. I glanced over and saw that the blue was from a silk shirt on … Alanis Morissette! I looked again fearing I had seen a mirage.
I immediately pulled over, parked and grabbed my cast signed program from a few nights prior and my Jagged Little Pill album from the glove compartment.
I turned back to where I had seen her, but she had disappeared. My heart sank. Had I imagined it? Was that perfect opportunity gone? I looked everywhere before my eyes settled back on the blue of Morissette’s shirt as she smelled the lilacs from a bush across the street.
As I walked up to her, I couldn’t help but admire how much time she took to appreciate the world around her and the flowers that I had never noticed in all my trips to the theater. I didn’t want to interrupt; so I delayed asking her a few moments more. I used the extra time to calm my nerves and search for the confidence to approach her.
Finding that hidden confidence, I finally asked, “Excuse me, Alanis. Would you mind signing my cd?” She lifted her head from the lilacs, looked over, smiled and nodded.
As she was signing my CD and program, I told her how much I loved her music and how amazing the show was. She was so appreciative of the feedback, smiling like a proud parent.
Once she was done signing, I asked for a photo. I raised my camera to take a selfie and realized that I was shaking. I was so excited to meet someone who inspired me and a whole generation that the nerves and adrenaline were taking hold. I apologized and did my best to keep the camera steady. She was so patient as I tried to steady myself and assured me it was okay and to take my time. Eventually, I pulled it together enough to get a photo.
The photo does so much to remind me of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Everything about the day and the meeting seemed organically ordinary, yet stepping back and realizing the talent I had the chance to meet, I realize how extraordinary it was.
Later as I thought over the moment and the moments that preceded it, I mulled over her interest in the lilac bush. Was she searching for inspiration… perhaps? Days later scanning through social media, I discovered in that moment, when I saw her at the lilac bush, she was creatively framing a photographic shot inspired by a lilac bush her dad had given her when she was younger… and I was there…how cool is that and …how cool is she? What a day! What an extraordinary meeting! One of my favorites!