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Maris Kreizman

Cast by Chronic Illness Into a Limiting Role

Illustration by Giselle Potter

Maris Kreizman | Longreads | November 2017 | 10 minutes (2,462 words)

 

In junior high, I had my heart set on attending a famous performing arts sleep-away camp in upstate New York. All I’d ever wanted from the time I was 4 and saw a local production of Oliver! was to be a Broadway star. I could barely contain my jealousy of all the child actors who were making it big in musical theater that year, 1990: the orphans of Les Miz, the orphans of The Secret Garden, the orphans of Annie. I had the talent to be an orphan too! I just needed a chance to go away from home, I reasoned, because very few successful orphan characters are discovered living with their parents.

If only I could attend French Woods, the place where Natasha Lyonne and Zooey Deschanel had spent their summers — a destination for suburban preteens on the East Coast who had Broadway ambitions, kids who perhaps idolized Bernadette Peters (me) and had strong opinions about Andrew Lloyd Weber’s early work (also me). I had always fit in just fine in my New Jersey town, but I knew I would find my people at French Woods.

Instead, I found myself at the Clara Barton Camp for girls with diabetes. I wrote my parents a “please come pick me up or I will die” letter after my first night.

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