When most people consider a career in the arts, they think of the excitement of performing, or the flexibility of living a (basically) freelance lifestyle. Those are some of that factors that drew me, for sure. The variety in work is appealing and the fact that one audition or one phone call can change the course of your life is exciting.
With that said, vagabond-ing isn’t always easy.
The uncertainty can be taxing during long stretches between bookings. And there’s a lot of travel involved… which can be a perk, but also a drawback. There’s an old joke in Hollywood that though you have to be in Los Angeles or New York to book most work (especially network gigs), you’re most likely going to shoot on location somewhere else.
That’s been true for my husband and I many times over the years.
He shot ‘Another Cinderella Story‘ in Canada for two months. I shot Season 1 of ‘Dating Naked’ in Panama and Season 2 in the Philippines. While the destinations are incredible, (I mean who wouldn’t want to live on a island for eight weeks?!), It can be quite lonely.
He’s in Delaware as I write this, working a new musical called ‘A Sign of the Times.’ It’s oddly relevant to our world here in 2018. It features the music of Petula Clark and the story centers around civil rights and the women’s movements. I visited the sleepy town of Wilmington for a nice, quiet ten day stretch over the Thanksgiving holiday. We gave thanks. Life slowed. We had lots of time to just be together.
But I’m back in LA now, and I’m flying solo for the next three weeks, tying up year-end projects like my new weekly ‘What’s Good in LA’ segments coming to Spectrum 1, and hosting my weekend segment with Entertainment Tonight and Morning Save called VIP Steals. I’m also getting my ducks in a row for 2019: Updating my reel, tidying up my websites and getting organized to hit the ground running.
While I’m grateful to be focusing on work, I miss my husband. To willingly separate from the one you love for nearly a month feels… unnatural.
We’ve been down this road many times. He was on tour with Jersey Boys for nearly 3 years, moving from city to city all over the US and Canada. It was completely up to me to travel to him because he couldn’t just leave the tour and come home. It was hard and it never really gets easier. But we’ve learned how to cope.
Here’s how we make it work:
–Check in and over-communicate
I’m not big on phone calls. I’ve never been someone who loves to gab for hours on the phone. I really don’t like FaceTime. It just feels so forced to me. I’m a face to face, quality time kind of girl. But that’s not an option currently and the phone is all we’ve got. So, I’m constantly challenging my husband to really connect with me. To tell me something deep and specific, not a just a laundry list of what he did that day.
If you’re in a long-distance phase and need help opening up, tell your spouse a story about a funny event, or a bond you’ve made with a new cast-mate. It’s important to feel like your really involved in each others lives. Share the frustrations and the wins, your loneliness and fears. It doesn’t always have to be rainbows and sunshine. Emotional honesty makes you feel less alone and brings you closer together.
–Make a plan to see each other
I love planning future fun! It gives me something to look forward to when the days get long and monotonous. Whether it’s a concert in April, or a dinner with a friend next week, I like to see fun things on my calendar. This also goes for visiting my spouse. This time of year it’s easy to plan because it’s the holidays. But when it’s not so clear, like in the middle of spring or summer and you’ve got a long stretch apart, make sure to set the next date you’ll see each other ASAP.
–Set a time limit
Leaving an appointment to chance or not setting a date makes any meeting low-priority. For Drew and I, it’s top priority. A while back, we had a stretch of six weeks apart. It was too long and felt kind of weird to be together again. We became used to our separate lives. We eventually found our groove again and imposed the three-week limit. Whatever works for you, set a limit for Apart Time and stick to it!
-Send thoughtful surprises
When Drew was on tour with ‘High School Musical,’ he sent me a postcard from each city he visited. I loved getting those in the mail. It was such a nice surprise and fun visual to see all the places he’d been to. We still try and keep this up. Whether it’s a cute ‘just because’ card, or a silly selfie, stay in contact and keep it fun! It’s nice to know you’re in each other’s thoughts.
If a life in the arts is something you’re pursuing, bravo! It’s truly satisfying and so wonderful to get to share your creative gifts with the world. Just know that if you are also dating or married to a fellow artist, it can take a lot of compromise. But with a little planning and a bit of fun structure, couples apart can survive and even thrive.’
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