O Lady Midnight, I Fear That You Grow Old...
1.) It is never just an elevator dream, is it?
It's always an elevator that goes sideways, or an elevator without any walls, or an elevator that plummets at weird times, or an elevator that's only to the bottom half of a building, and in order to get to the top, you have to climb out a window on the 4th floor, and up a drainpipe, and through someone's rooftop garden to get where you need to go.
Stress dreams. Mine often involve elevators and trains. And, most recently, rocking chairs.2.) Ireland
I visited my Kiri in Mid-November. I met her 1 year old daughter for the first time, and her 3 year old daughter for the first time since she was younger than 1. I needed to do this for many reasons.
Amal then swooped in from Glasgow and played with us. She and Kiri caught me in the crossbeams of their love, and made me incandescent.
I don't know what we deserve; I don't know anything about karma; I don't really believe the world is fair. That kind of love seems unfair, it is so radiant and glorious. It is how we should love when we can, I think, because our wicks are not long, are they, even if we live a hundred years, and this world is such a big, big fire.
This was one of the reasons I'd visited. Because my friend's ailment over the summer could have snatched her right away, and then... what? And then.
We went to the Cliffs of Moher. Before that, we did have a brief night out in a park, where we three walked along the pond and shared tea in the rainy darkness and got to know each other better. Mostly we played with babies and chatted in the kitchen. Oh, and I did watch a few episodes of FRINGE, on Kiri's insistence.
Mmn, and I'd watch more of that, just for the YUMMY CAST! Wouldn't I just?3.) Thanksgiving
It was the kind of house filled with art that came from Italy, or the artist on the corner who happens to be a friend, and also happens to be kind of famous. The kind of house filled with instruments, and firelight, and a long table that has known many meals.
And my friend and his wife had their family around them, but they also had the waifs and strays, and Sita and I were among these, but mostly we felt like we were home.
It was the kind of house on an island. The kind of house that nestles between the opals of bay and sky, where the twilight lasts forever, and the water is clear and the rocks are dark and slippery with moss, and all you want to do is sit in the bitter wind and watch the night rise right up from the waves.
Then fall asleep on the couch, full of food and warmth. Safe.4.) Affairs of the Heart, Beautiful Gentlemen, What's Passing By
I had an extremely interesting autumn. Playful, educational, kindly, and ephemeral.
It was unexpected. It was what I wanted. It never pretended to be anything else but exactly what it was. It lasted just as long as it should have.
It is now winter.
I am myself again.
There are verses in Greg Brown's "Rexroth's Daughter" appropriate for nearly every occasion worth writing about. So glad he did all the song-writing work so that I did not have to bother. For this, ever shall I uphold poets and musicians.
I will now go back to one of my favorite lines, which you have probably all seen me quote before. All three of you."This life is a thump-ripe melon
So sweet and such a mess..."5.) Theatre
I made callbacks for "In the Next Room."
So that's happening this Wednesday, the 11th, which is the eve of my 32nd birthday.
And I guess I want to say here - so that I can see on the page what I've only been thinking or working out out-loud (always useful) - that even though I love this play to pieces, and think that it's the CAT'S PAJAMAS, and think it's terribly important, and even though I DO DESIRE to be in it, MOST ARDENTLY, I know that:
A.) I'm at an awkward age for two of the characters, and
B.) An awkward body type for the third.
I am not perfect for any of the three roles available to me, and this play deserves a perfect cast. I'm willing to do my best at callbacks and rock it while I can, because AUDITIONS ARE FUN!!!
But I'm… I'm trying to detach from the outcome.
I used to hate the word "detachment." Even my mother's nice Buddhist-like way of using it. The older I get the better I like it.
I think I never wanted anything to do with the word before because I have had in childhood and teenagerhood such difficulty attaching to this world at all. And I wanted to connect. I wanted to be completely present, in my own skin, in my own time.
Like Bastion in the Neverending Story, "I have to keep my feet on the ground," because my natural state is one of otherworlds and window-dreaming. It was always hard enough living here
, being present to community, learning to be in my body, and to look around, and love what I saw, even though it is ugly and hard work, and there aren't any, you know, unicorns lurking at street corners. Or whatever.
Also, if I don't get into the play, that means more time for writing. Which is a win-win-AND-WIN-SOME-MORE situation.
(Does this sound like pre-grieving to you? It's this habit I have. I always freak out before the fact, so it doesn't catch me by surprise later. It's backwards. But I suspect it is because I have what Julia Rios calls "a narrative brain.")
(Oh, and I have started writing again. Nice after November's dearth. It is difficult to write in the upheaval of travel, I find.)6.) Yale
Anne and Erica took me to the Yale Cabaret, to a show called "Bound to Burn." It was a movement-based theatre piece, with no dialogue. A pop-ballad soundtrack. What text there was, was written on the floor and walls. Depending on which scene was lit, different phrases popped from the set.
The three main visual metaphors that pulled the whole piece together were: the ring, the white rose, the white scarf. Here were my instant associations with the images:
WHITE ROSE- Death
- Fairy Tales
WHITE SCARF- Cancer
- Female factory workers
What does this tell me?
That when using a visual metaphor, it is best to be HIGHLY SPECIFIC about what it means.
What did this remind me of?
That an entire story can have an object at and for its center. It's why we playwrights always had to choose a prop during 24 festivals, and make sure it made its way onstage.
I'd only ever been to New Haven before to take a commuter train to New York City. It was good to come to a strange city. To drive through the night with a friend. To see something urgent and experimental. Reminded me of Columbia College Chicago.
Strange, how theatre has always - since my childhood - been a place of homesickness. What are we homesick for? Ritual? Catharsis? Communal dreamtime? Damned if I know.
The ladies paid for my ticket and for my food, as a birthday present. Which brings me to…7.) The Courtesies
At the Yale Cab we got to talking around the table about feminism. One of the ladies mentioned that, when dating, it had been very important for her to buy her own meals. I turned to my other friend and said, "Jeez, I'd let anyone pay for my meal, male or female, whether or not we're dating."
I don't know if this makes me a bad feminist, or just extremely poor.
(Okay. So I know I'm ONE of the two.)
Here's the thing I was thinking, though. I LOVE paying for other people's meals. When I have money, I want to pay for ALL THE MEALS. Mine and everyone else's. You know why? Because I love when people buy me meals. I love it. And I like to do what I like other people to do to me. Maybe it's part of being a mimetic human being, maybe it's an unconscious tab I'm running with the universe and laws of "What Goes Around Comes Around," I don't know. You got me.
You know what else I like? I like holding doors open for people. Men, women, people who don't adhere to the binary, whatever. You know what else I like? When people hold the doors open for me. It thrills me.
My friend Sam once held my jacket for me while I put it on. I think I almost got light-headed. Major swoonage. At any opportunity thereafter, where it was appropriate, or necessary, I have enjoyed providing that service for other friends, or, say, Sita, or WHOEVER. Because until he held my coat for me, I had NO IDEA what pleasure having a coat held could bring.
I like grand courtly gestures, I like gifts, I like banter, I like when people SHOW UP, I like when people invite me, I love making food for other people, and dang, but I love when other people make me food.
And I think this is a kind of feminism, but it's not the same kind of feminism as having to insist, most fiercely, on paying your own way. I think the fact that I don't have to fight so hard must be due to this EPIC BATTLE that came before my time, that's still being waged, but maybe not, like, in my own neighborhood.
My time for donning my breastplate and girding myself for war may yet come, but it hasn't yet. I suppose I could seek out battles, but I'm not really... confrontational. Maybe I should be. Sigh. Again, I don't know.
I hope I'm ready when it comes. I hope I find my own strong voice. But just the fact that I've been (more or less) a single woman, 85% of the time by my own vehement choice for the last 15 years (give or take), and have not been victim of society's censure because of it, but am as much of a person as my best friend who's a wife, and my other best friend who's a world traveler, and any number of my guy friends, and my brothers, I mean… That's huge, isn't it?
It's SO not a hundred years ago.To Sum Up this Widening Gyre
It's SO not a hundred years ago!!!
...Which is why the play "In the Next Room" is so important.
...Which is why I am going to callbacks on Wednesday and not throwing in the towel to superior actors. Because, heck. 31 has been a beautiful year.
Let's go out with a bang, SHALL WE? Ring in the new with this thing I love doing better than anything else in the world. Or, rather, love doing about en par with only a small, glittering handful of other favorite things.
For now, I know I am no coward.
Proving myself to myself one test at a time.