Last week I turned eighty. Though I received many congratulations, this was not entirely of my doing. In part, it was due to the cursed medical establishment, who over the years ran interference for me. In part, it was due to my wife, who’s cooked my suppers for 60+ years. In large part, it was the achievement of my mother, who did the hard work of labor and many jobs to keep me alive, and even survived my adolescence. I did some work at it too.
Beyond that, what’s left to say? I’m in good health, beyond a couple of chronic complaints which might kill me if something else doesn’t do it first. I’m a compulsive worker, though I’m hardly an essential one. I’m immensely proud of my wife and my children, both. I enjoy food and sex and the ocean and blessed sleep. I wish I could travel more and talk with people and miss having more immediate friends. I’m obsessed with all the great mysteries. In a way I hate to read, because there’s so much to read that I’ll never read, and that occurs to me every time I look for my place.
I’ve been all over the United States and Europe, a bit in Canada and Mexico, a week in Israel before the first Intifada. I’ve been part of the theatre community on many levels, plus Boy Scouts, academia, public radio, puppetry, polyamory, Unitarians, Quakers, neo-pagan circles, and the social-services realm—though not all simultaneously. I’ve walked up and down the streets of Manhattan. I’ve done more stuff than I thought I would.
I’ve had a fellow traveler. We met when I was 19, she was 20, and it was a lightning-swift bonding. Like all my relatives (who were farmers), we found a common career, and we’ve nurtured each others’ growth into something reasonably humanoid. Many long nights, some ecstatic, some otherwise.
What’s the result?
I have two grown children, both creative, well partnered, and human. I have a mate who’s more than I’ve ever thought possible in a mate. I have two cats.
I vote, and I sometimes post screeds on Facebook, but I’m more critical of my own tribe, their tactics and vocabulary, than of the tribe the next valley down. Not that I’m more offended by bad spelling than genocide, but frankly I’m too chicken to man the barricades, and I don’t consider posts on Facebook more than a hobby.
I have no apparent career. I’ve spent my life in theatre, directed about a hundred shows, written 50+, sculpted 18 bins of puppets, but that’s pretty much dead and buried unless lightning strikes. We’ve done some very good radio work. We’ve renovated three spaces as theatres, though none are theatres now. We’ve written 8 novels and 40+ stories with very scant readership. Right now, in relation to these worlds, I feel much as I did in high school: out of the stir of things. Yet we’ve earned a living doing it, worked to the bone, and had fun.
Currently, I’m doing the final layouts on Seven Fabulist Comedies, an anthology of some of our plays that we’ll publish in November. I’m circulating three novels to small presses and just finished editing Elizabeth’s first volume of a three-part memoir, to be published in the spring. I’m in that turbulent mental state between projects but thinking about King David, that heroic shit—doubtful, as immersion in this topic might take years and do I really want to spend that much time in a world less appealing even than Las Vegas?
Getting past the age of fifteen, you start to think of death. At forty, it becomes real. At eighty, it’s a package you expect in the mail. They haven’t sent the tracking number, but the way things go these days, who can tell? I’m in good health, and other than groping for names and words, I’m ambulatory and sentient. Main worry is that no way can I leave my campsite cleaner than I found it—there’s way too much stored in the shop—but I don’t want to leave a mess.
Both my parents are dead, and many friends. Oddly, I’ve never felt grief, just a sense of fate—maybe a trait due to my farmer genes. I would hope to spare my loved ones pain, but I don’t know how, other than staying alive.