My World Expands

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Growing up in Blue Springs, Missouri my world was rather small. It existed of hanging out with friends, going to school, then home, church on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesday and the occasional trip to see one of my two sisters in whatever part of the country they were living. Locally, anything and anyone I wanted to see was within an hours drive from my mom’s house. An audition for Stiletto Entertainment in 2001 would be the first step in expanding my world in a way I would have never dreamed about. One day, before I went to a rehearsal, I stopped at my dorm room to drop off my books and I had a message saying that Stiletto Entertainment was holding auditions and they wanted me to audition for their cruise ship shows on Holland America Cruise Lines. I’d never heard of them and didn’t know how they had heard about me. I soon found out that someone I knew had recommended me. I went by the audition site to tell them that I had a rehearsal that I could not miss, and if they were willing to wait I would come and audition after my rehearsal was over. It was after 10pm and as I ran up to the building I saw the person I knew and two other people standing on the outside steps waiting for me. I went inside where they proceeded to teach me a couple of dance combinations and then I also sang a song for them. They were immediately interested in putting me on one of their ships, to which I replied that I had over a year of school left and that I would have to finish before I could work for them. I was given their card and was told to “stay in touch.”

As graduation got closer I started contacting them to let them know I’d be graduating soon and was interested in working on one of their ships. After nine months, I was available and so was a ship for me to work on. This all began in September of 2003 and for the next two years I traveled around the world...literally. I have been around the world once, from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale and so many cities and countries in between. The cruises I’ve worked on have been Hawaii, Mexico, Eastern and Western Caribbean, The Mediterranean, The Baltic, Europe and a World Cruise. I have swam with dolphins in Acapulco, zip lined in Puerto Rico, ridden camels in Morocco, cruised through the Amazon River to hold a three-toed sloth and climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, just to name a few. I have seen places that had only existed from what I had seen on TV or in a movie.

I remember being in Lisbon, Portugal and spending the day with two of my friends from the ship and we had stopped at a restaurant for lunch and were talking about the day and all of the other ports we had been to prior to Lisbon and I started to cry because in that moment I realized just how special my life was. If anyone had ever asked me if I thought that I would see the things that I was seeing my answer would have been a very confident no. The world as I knew it had existed in the suburb of Blue Springs, Missouri. The only people that I had known to travel out of the country were my sisters, one that left to become a model and the other that joined the Navy. I didn’t want to be a model and joining the Navy sounded like a living nightmare. In my mind, I was this boy from a midwestern town, not a man who then was 25 traveling around the world and getting paid to do what I love, which is perform. Even to this day I am still in awe of the things I’ve been able to experience.

I called one of my sisters in the midst of writing this entry to thank her for being an example of courage for getting out of Missouri after high school and in return she thanked me. She shared that she thinks that I have contributed so much to our family with the courage I’ve shown in following my dreams as a performer. She also shared that for her, she thinks that each generation should ascend to a higher level of life experience than the previous generation. With that thought, I am ecstatic to see what the lives of my many nieces and nephews have to bring.

So no matter where your life begins, it can lead you beyond what you’ve dreamed of if you choose. People will always have an opinion on how your life should or should not be or look, but only we have the power to create what we want for our lives. If you don’t create anything new for your life, it will always be what it is. I don’t say this to say that whatever your life is isn’t enough, only to show that our lives are what WE make of them. We have more power over our lives than we think we do and when we are connected to knowing that, it can lead to so many wonderful things.

Antuan RaimoneComment