I’ve had two plays accepted by the East End Fringe Festival that will be held in Riverhead, New York, later this summer. At first, it looked as if the logistics of getting the plays staged would prove impossible, but after negotiations with the festival people, it appears both plays will get one performance on a weekend in August. Arielle, who founded the Britches and Hose Theater Company, will direct both works. There are a lot of issues that will need to be resolved before this becomes a reality; all we have right now is a venue for the auditions and a future stage in upstate New York. People in my age range will understand when I say this is already too cool for school.
On Thursday I went to see Kris Kristofferson play. I came of age listening to his songs, to Bobby McGee, Help Me Make it Through the Night, For the Good Times, and a dozen others. Thanks to their very simple chord structures, these classics were among the first tunes I learned to play on the guitar.
Kristofferson is 80 years old. He suffers from Lyme disease and has memory issues. He and his guitar faced a single microphone and for two hours, standing up, he played twenty-two of his most famous compositions. He wasn’t perfect; his fingers hit the wrong strings a few time, and his voice stumbled. It had lost the resonance it once had, but none of the emotions. The performance brought tears to my eyes.
Last week Arielle and I emptied my home of anything small, portable, and capable of being stolen. We did this on the advice of my real estate agent who was running an open house trying to sell the place. I had a lot more stuff than I thought, little and not-so-little items ranging from netsukes to art deco ashtrays that anyone could comfortably stuff in a pocket.
When I worked as an addiction counselor, I’d occasionally get a client whose modus operandi was to attend open houses and steal whatever prescription drugs could be lifted.
“It’s just stuff,” Arielle said of the bits and pieces, and she’s right. She’s anti-stuff. I am not so much pro-stuff as I am pro-memory. All the objects I own come with stories attached. Packing them away was like wrapping memories in newspapers and being unsure as to when I’ll evoke them again.
I’ve been told to vacate the premises when potential buyers come to look at the house. It’s an odd feeling, abandoning my home so others can tromp through it.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working in my basement when I heard footsteps above me. My home was broken into last year and a bunch of things taken, so, not wanting a repeat performance, I armed myself with a microphone stand and looked up the stairway. At the top of the stairs, a largish man with a surprised expression was looking down at me. I clutched the mike stand and yelled. “Who the f*ck are you!” He reeled back, and a small, frightened voice answered, “Real estate lady! Real estate lady!” A perfectly oval face peeked from behind the man’s shoulder. He did not buy the house.
Today is Mother’s Day. My mother died a quarter-century ago, and for several years after her death, on the second Sunday in May, I sent a Mother’s Day card to her former address in Paris, France. I often wondered what the apartment’s new tenants made of the envelope from Virginia that appeared in their mailbox. Did they open it or simply throw it in the trash? I know they never marked it return-to-sender.
Friends are leaving. Two very good ones died within a year. Some are moving away for good, others only temporarily. One has made a conscious choice to climb back into the bottle after an eight-year period of sobriety. Another’s behavior towards me has changed drastically—a departure bordering on an absence. I don’t make friends easily, and I believe true friendships take time to establish, so each loss is felt deeply.
Though it’s not hard to be entertained by people and, in turn, provide them with company, I know it’s impossible to replace friends who are gone, with short-term acquaintances. Some things can’t be hurried.
My favorite car, an aging Porsche I’d scrupulously maintained for more than fifteen years, was rear-ended in December. The other vehicle involved, a monstrous Japanese SUV, was driven by a seventeen-year-old girl with a brand new license. She was texting when she ran into me.
The insurance company declared my vehicle totaled, and I bought it back from them for a few hundred dollars, thinking that after selling the house, I’d get the car repaired. I’ve changed my mind and recently put the Porsche up for sale on eBay. It sickened me to do so, but I think it was the right (read, adult and mature) thing to do. It will probably be parted out, which is a lot better than ending up crushed in a wrecking yard. Stuff, once again, but this one was important stuff. A lot of my identity was wrapped up in the little two-seater. When I first bought it, I figured I’d finally arrived. Silly, yes, but I don’t care.
The surgery I had last week revealed more invasive cells and I’m now scheduled to have a six-week course of chemotherapy. A few days ago, a person who knows of my medical issues told me I looked bad, and then, with great earnestness, asked how long I had to live. Another acquaintance regaled me with tales of people without lungs or a pancreas, sufferers much worse off than me. I’m not sure if I am supposed to do with this information. Is this what’s called a conundrum?