I think I’m having an identity crisis! It’s not that I don’t know who I am, it’ that I’m too many people in too short a time frame.


You mean you’re someone besides us?


By a country mile, 9. For those of you who’ve never met 9, she is definitely her own person but she is also my inner 9-year-old.

I’m on the downhill leg of a 5-event stretch of portraying different people, or at least dressing like people from different eras.


What’s wrong with that?


Nothing, Lily. If Lily embraced the same naming convention as 9 her name would be 14. That’s right, she’s my inner 14-year-old, and an aspiring actress.


Identity: Felicity Cunningham, tennis playing house guest in "The Real Inspector Hound." Whitman College, 1978.

Identity: Felicity Cunningham, tennis-playing house guest and suspected murderer in “The Real Inspector Hound,” Whitman College, 1978.


Being different people is a lot of fun for some of us, and when you’re in a play you get to have one alternate identity for weeks at a time. That’s manageable. But when you do five separate one-off events in less than six weeks, all of which require some sort of alternate personality and three of which require lots of rehearsal and characterization, it gets a bit crazy.


Identity: Modeling is more about attitude than characterization, but even for a fashion show I imagine a backstory. With my friend Britt at the Kirkman House Museum Tea and Fashion Show: an imagined mother and daughter at a swanky reception in 1962. . .


The current count is two fashion shows and a Living History performance down, one resurrection of a resident of Mountain View Cemetery and a dance recital to go. These last two are happening in the next ten days. Saturday morning I’m a prominent Walla Walla pioneer, Lettice Jane Millican Clark Reynolds. She was more fortunate than many women of her era as the truly bad part of her life spanned a mere 13 years of her 80.


Identity: Add a crisp, white apron and a black sunbonnet for Lettice Jane Millican Clark Reynolds!


Though I am free to tell the entire story of Lettice’s life, I’ve chosen to dress as she would have when she first arrived in Walla Walla in 1859, rather than in 1911 when she died.


Why that choice?


Because I only had to buy two accessory pieces to accent mid-to-late 19th century items I already have, instead of coming up with an entirely new outfit for a 10-minute presentation.


Won’t people get confused?


No, 9, because I will explain my choice when I’m introducing myself- -not the part about not wanting to spring for a new outfit, but that I want them to see what I looked like when I first came to town because it was a significant turning point in her life.


Your pronouns are confusing me. Are you introducing yourself as yourself or as your character?


Definitely as my character, Lily, because I’ll be standing near her tombstone.


So you’re a person, not a ghost?

Identity: Different character, same skirt for Lettice as for Matilda Sager Delaney. . .Accessories make a world of difference!



Right. I mean, kind of. At the cemetery we acknowledge that we’re dead; for Living History at Fort Walla Walla Museum we are visiting as time travelers from a time when we were still alive. Which I did less than two weeks ago as Matilda Sager Delaney- -different character, same skirt.


After Saturday I only have to focus on the dance recital on June 11. One dance, 3 minutes, with the other 3 adult tappers. Our dance is fun and funny, to Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime.”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvUQcnfwUUM[link to youtube]


In some ways it’s simpler than doing historic characters because I’m not on the hook to remember the names of children (everyone had tons of them back then), or husbands (ditto, for any woman who lived to a fine old age), or who was leading the wagon train on the trip west. But there’s a need to characterize in dance, maybe even more so in a comic dance. What’s my identity? On the outside, someone who looks like this:


Identity Work In Progress: Who will I be in the dance recital?



On the inside, it’s a work in progress, to be nailed down once I’m done being Lettice Jane Millican Clark Reynolds.


And when you’re done with the recital you can go back to being just you and us, right?


I sincerely hope so, 9. At least until late July when I’ll resurface as Nellie Gilliam Day.


Each identity we take on in life, whether work or family or performing or simply being who we are at different ages, becomes a part of us. How many times have you heard someone say they still feel like they’re 19 (or whatever age) inside?

As Lily, 9 and I can attest, the best parts of who you are will never, ever go away.

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