In 1993, I was still living and working in Boston, but it was time for a change. Encouraged by my friend Rick, I had applied for a teaching position in the University of San Diego/Old Globe Theatre MFA Professional Actor Training Program. Interviews for jobs such as these can be exhausting. You fly somewhere, spend a day teaching a class in front of the Search Committee, have countless interviews, have lunch/dinner, meet a lot of people, smile so much that your teeth ache, and fly back home. All with in 24 – 48 hours.
Thus, I was found jetting off to California (I had never been there before) for a job interview. I knew a couple of people who worked at the Globe and one of them, Kathy McGrath, was in the current show running at the theater. I had some free time, so I went to the matinee. There was a guy in the cast who was a wonderful actor and I distinctly remember looking at his photo in the program and reading his bio.
I got the job, by the way.
Fast forward to a year later, in 1994. I had successfully managed the first year of teaching in a whole new environment. I had just been through the tragic murder of one of my beloved students. I was coaching one of the summer productions for the Globe, a play called Wonderful Tennessee by Brian Friel. The Globe used to host an event called “Company Call” where everyone involved in the current productions met in the theater, along with staff and management. It was a great way to get to know each other. During this particular Company Call, three people were made Associate Artists, an honor bestowed on artists who had forged a long relationship with the theater. I recognized one of the honorees. It was the same guy I had seen onstage the previous year. His speech was funny and self-deprecating and I found him intriguing. He was playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night, which was currently in rehearsal.
A week or so later, Kathy had her annual Fourth of July bash at her home by the beach. I had been serving on Jury Duty and was grateful for a day off from a tedious and contentious trial. Rick and I headed out to the beach. Lots of people from the theater were there. (In those days, the Globe was like one big family.)
I knew most everyone and I spent a lot of time with the cast of Wonderful Tennessee, most of them actors who had worked off and on at the Globe for years. Every time I came back into the living room of Kathy’s house, a guy kept catching my eye and smiling at me. This happened several times.
It was that guy I had seen in the play. That guy who had just been made an Associate Artist. Oh, I knew his name. He was Don Sparks.
I am by nature a friendly person who is fundamentally shy. I was never the kind of girl who went up to a man and initiated a flirtation. Too shy for that. But something made me go up to this guy. After all, he’d been putting an enormous amount of effort into catching my eye. And he seemed like a nice guy.
So I bit the bullet, walked up to him and introduced myself. We sat on the sofa and talked to each other. Our conversation centered around the fact that we couldn’t believe we were in our forties.
I was a wee bit smitten.
So, it turns out, was Don. In fact, he uses the word ‘lust’ to describe his feelings on that Fourth of July.
Later in the evening, we all went to the beach to watch the fireworks and, though we were sitting far apart from each other, he managed to catch my eye again. He smiled. He’s got a great smile.
I guess you can say we saw fireworks on the day we met.
Within a few weeks (we were both busy with our respective productions) we went on our first date. Four years later, we were married.
Pretty good for a guy who had been married before and wasn’t sure if he wanted to be married again.
Pretty good for a girl who had dodged any sort of commitment for years and didn’t think she could sustain a long relationship, let alone marry someone.
Happy 20th, my love.