I am glad for the Thanksgiving holiday, and this year it was even more special because our son Eli, his lady Meg, and Meg’s parents Randy and Katie were all here. We had to send special digital wishes to our daughter Johanna and her Francesco in Italy, but for sure we were all together, one way or another.
Conrad and I have a special Advent calendar. Nov. 13 is our anniversary, Nov. 27, Eli’s birthday. We welcomed Johanna on Dec. 11, and of course Dec. 25 is, well, what it is.
Conrad and I joined in 1960, and it wasn’t long before we thought, well, we’re not rolling in dough yet, but let’s start trying for a baby. Such innocents, we thought all you had to do was stop trying not to.
Years went by, we found ourselves in stable academic positions with comfortable incomes, but still no luck with becoming parents. Eventually, we left the academic security and launched into independent theatre, living solely on our savings for a year while we clawed our way up to being able to offer salaries to, what, six people? The princely sum of $50 per week, but hey, this was the early 70’s.
We realized that we’d been blessed, that trying to build the kind of life we seemed to be making would always demand huge energy and risk-taking, not the best circumstances for parenthood.
After a lean and often frantic year, the bank account was getting down to the danger zone, we were working with a large ensemble and renovating our very own theatre. It had been a toy train factory, and just scraping the inch of grease off the floors was bone-breaking work, let alone painting the walls and getting rickety chairs for audiences to sit in.
But we got to the point of doing a gala opening fundraiser for our company. One audience member said “I won’t give you money, but if any of your women should chance to need my services, I will offer them gratis.” He was an OB/GYN. I got pregnant that night.
We had burnt our bridges, made our commitment, the time was right. We’d turned onto a byway, left academia, and started to learn the language of collaborative making. We just saw the film Arrival, and it feels exactly right. Learning a new language does affect how your mind works. Something tells me our brains are about to be seriously rewired again. All hail the circular future.
—From the Fool—
The Fool is having a mid-life crisis, uncertain where mid-life is. Is he there yet? Is he way past it? That’s the crisis. He knows that when he starts to write himself in third person he’s teetering on the edge.
Puzzlement of the week: Black Friday is when you buy stuff. Good Friday is when you get crucified. There’s some message in that. But somebody did a Holiday Craft Fair. You could buy different Star Trek characters or Batman made out of clothespins. It grows the economy.
That’s about all that can be said about this week.
Let’s hear it for life just pooping along. You get up, you eat, you go do stuff. Maybe, hopefully, you have some fun and talk or hug or connect somehow with others of your species. Then you go to bed and sleep without much having happened that distinguishes Tuesday from Wednesday.
That’s utterly alien to my temperament, and yet it mostly defines my life. Granted, I’m insanely obsessive. I need to go forward every day with some creative project. If I’m on the road I want to be home; if I’m home I want to be gone. I thirst for new experience, probably manage to find it more often than most. And yet—
Here’s a day when I shave, when I eat my breakfast muffin, when at the end of the day I may have done something notable—written my three pages, rehearsed LEAR, outlined the start of our next show—but it feels no different than what my mom likely felt, coming home from her eight hours at the office and fixing dinner and watching TV. It’s just life.
I’m glad I’ve managed to make a living in theatre. I’m glad I found a mate who would help to survive our idiot safaris and cook good dinners by the many thousands. I’m glad I can style myself, at times, a wild-haired explorer. But it finally comes down to the realm of the ordinary. The cup of coffee. The toilet. The job. The dinner. The sleep. And the snapshots of memory, the softnesses, the silences, the sea and the aging. Normalcy is anathema to me, but it has an elegance, and I’m squarely in it.
Click the Follow button and add your email to subscribe to our weekly post. We welcome comments below.
If you enjoy this blog, please send the link to your friends.