NY, LA, Amsterdam… Denver?

I wouldn’t say I’ve lived a Big Life, but decidedly larger than medium. Call it medium well. I spent my childhood on beaches, in swimming pools, and racing around the […]

April 26, 2010 // Tracy Shaffer // No Comments //

I wouldn’t say I’ve lived a Big Life, but decidedly larger than medium. Call it medium well.

I spent my childhood on beaches, in swimming pools, and racing around the back lot of MGM Studios. Flying on my purple Stingray through the streets of long-abandoned sets, in-between sound stages, chasing seagulls and stars. There were few signs of the straight line, the bumpy road and circuitous route that would lead me to a bike path in the Colorado Rockies.

Along that road I worked as an actress in New York, Hollywood and theatres around the country. I traveled the world and met legends: movie stars, rock stars, art stars, captains of industry and heirs to a throne. My familiars included Tony winners, Grammy winners, Oscar and Emmy winners, Pulitzer Prize candidates, Smithsonian inductees, who taught me, shaped and mentored me. There was the invitation to lunch at the White House, an accidental dinner with Warhol: my life, medium well. Meeting billboard-size people seems to be in my cards.

When we moved to Denver Fall was in the air. As the movers were unloading the truck, we plugged in the TV at the exact moment the verdict was being read in a murder trial involving of our former neighbor, Nicole Brown Simpson. I was glad I’d left LA. Unpacking myself and my young family, I settled into a town full of strangers, snow, and a “Plan B” I was none too thrilled with: a toddler, a television and Oprah were my only friends that winter… until she turned on me. We were sitting in my living room. I was on my couch bandaging my foot from yet another casualty caused by an unseen Lego. She was she in Chicago on her couch. The cast of an upcoming movie sauntered out on to the stage, gracefully plopping themselves down on in the hot seat. Staring blankly at the screen, wrapping gauze around and around and around my tiny wound, I realized I’d worked with the people behind the smiles, the bitches who had stolen my life. In a flash, it hit me.
“OH MY GOD, I’M A MIDWEST MOM!”

I’d gone from Hollywood and Vine to dying on a vine, from playing on the streets of Oz to a cow town close to Kansas. Like Dorothy, if I told anybody where I’d been and who was there with me, they’d cluck in disbelief. Cary Grant and Ava Gardner, Billy Barty, and a Beatle.
How’s a girl gonna keep that inside forever?

That cold winter’s truth delivered the promised bulbs, as I began to trade the holler and congestion of L.A. for an open space where I could hear my thoughts. Manhat-tenacity morphed into a soft determination and my gloom gave way to creativity I’d never known before. Preferring not to spin my wheels I took a spin around this hood and what I found delighted me: smiling people, art galleries springing up, theatres, museums, one of them growing a brand new wing. All those things one takes for granted in a larger city were springing to life here in living color, and everything was a whole lot more accessible. Just like that I fell in love with my new home and got busy intersecting the roles of mother/actress/playwright/REALTORĀ® to create a vortex called the Thriving Artist Alliance.
Oh… and I am still meeting some amazing people.


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