Cowan Palace: You’re Not a Failure

Ashley’s here today to talk about dreams and moving on.

In case the news hasn’t quite reached you yet, my palace and I will be moving east in a few weeks. Along with me, I’ll be taking my husband and fellow columnist, Will Leschber, our daughter and pets, and all my dreams.

But Ashley, doesn’t moving back where you grew up mean you’re giving up on your dreams and that you’re a gigantic failure?

No. Also, I really don’t like your tone.

You’re welcome to disagree with me here, I’ll try not to take it too personally, but I don’t consider our decision to move to Connecticut a failure. Sure, if you had asked me a few years ago, when I had graduated high school if I ever planned to willingly move back within a fifty mile radius of my small town of Avon, I would have rolled my angsty teenage eyes and pointed to my journal containing a sad poem about the need to get out on my own and follow my dreams.

And I did follow those dreams. I went to New York City and auditioned as much as I could with varying levels of success. My first off, off-Broadway show was kind of an anti-abortion play that I still feel weird feel talking about, I got to be a featured extra covered in blood for the film “Across The Universe”, and I got to sing and dance my heart out a few miles from the Broadway stages in a small church in Queens doing a production of Godspell. But mainly, I auditioned for more projects than I could count and learned new colors of rejection which ultimately led me to a small job posting on Playbill.com for a theater in California.

So I chased the dream across the country to a state I had only ever read about and watched portrayed in the movies and ultimately landed in San Francisco, a Never-Never Land for dreamers. Surrounded by beautiful landscape and passionate people, I said yes to every single opportunity that came my way. Life was messy but delicious, complicated but beautiful.

Along with my grand theatrical dreams, though, I still had more hopes for my life. As much as I wanted to always be on stage, I also wanted to fall in love and one day raise a family. And the San Francisco theater scene gave me that chance! Thanks to an opening night gala, I met Will, fell in love, and (quickly) started to raise my family. It was a dream come true.

And it’s still a dream. But life after ever after is really hard. While I love living in a creative city, it became a lonelier place as a working mom. To afford our one bedroom apartment and cover childcare, Will and I had to split our schedules so that we couldn’t have a day off together. We kept acting and writing (though, we had to take turns) and we kept fighting for our dreams. But we were missing a lot of the joy and happiness that had once come so easily to us. We were endlessly exhausted and I found myself much sadder than I wanted to admit. How dare I be unhappy when life had been so kind? But, I wanted more! I longed to be closer to my family and many lifelong friends. The people that had known me the longest and had encouraged me to follow my heart and believe in myself, the forever dreamer.

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After months of daily tears and pros and cons lists, we made the difficult choice to say goodbye to our life in San Francisco for now. We’ll never know a love like the one we have for this city and our time here. But we’re confident it’s the best choice for our future.

Some dreams are obtained, some dreams are always chased, some dreams fade, some dreams change. Let them. It doesn’t make you a failure. Allow yourself to keep dreaming and never stop seeking your happiness.

That’s what I tell myself anyway. Maybe it’s just a way to bring me peace from what was a hard choice to make but it keeps me going. Yes, I’m moving to Connecticut and seeking out a different support system to help me but I’m never going to stop writing or auditioning or searching for a community of other artistic folks who fancy dreams. Cowan Palace may be changing locations, but the structure is only getting stronger. Thank you for giving me a home here, a safe space to follow my dreams. For not making me feel a failure. Cheers!

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