Rachel Berry, circa 2023.
The tai chi is multi-tasking, really. It’s great for her core strength, but it’s also been chosen as a method of quelling her anxiety.
It’s working, for now.
Life, right now, is exactly what she expected. A Tony by twenty-five and another two years later, along with two Emmy nominations, not to mention the album that went platinum last November. She’s made it, actually made it out of Lima and into the spotlight and onto the Billboard Top 100, and she still has plenty of room to grow because she’s barely twenty-nine and sure, Barbra already had an Oscar by twenty-seven, but she’s Barbra and as long as a role comes along that attracts the attention of the Academy before Rachel hits thirty-five, it’s still well within her projected timeline.
Still, by thirty-two would be ideal.
For now, though, it’s a series of cabaret shows to promote her latest album of standards until she heads up to Toronto for a preview engagement of The Hunger Games musical.
She prefers the more intimate venues to the larger ones, particularly those that are little more than piano bars, because it reminds her of where she started, where she learned to grow, where she built friendships and memories. Even the worst of the memories generate nostalgia, at this point. The bullying certainly wasn’t a high point, but she’s seen worse since then. Not often, just on occasion.
Walter, her manager, is always checking in on her, making sure she’s comfortable, because stalkers don’t ever seem like a reality until they are and, so far, they’ve only been in the form of overly amorous letters, both digital and handwritten.
What really unnerves her, though, are the groups of fans outside of venues, the ones who form a mob and make it impossible to breathe, who make her feel absolutely terrible if she doesn’t stop to sign every sing Playbill or poster or napkin. She knows most of them probably don’t hold it against her, but the feedback she sees, the reports that describe her as an uptight bitch, those bother her because she still, even now, doesn’t want to be rude to anyone and if she had the energy, she would swipe the Sharpie over all of it, for everyone.
But she can’t.