Las Vegas International, slot machines hollering at us from between the gates. Manchester, New Hampshire. The car-rental guard inspected my driver’s license for half a minute. He had not seen a California license before. To Mandy’s parents house. Her mother Mudd is here, tired, alternating between crying and relating how kind her relatives have been.
Emerson Hospital. Mandy’s father Nurn is here. There is a white band of skin where his wedding ring was. He is tired but coherent and emotionally stable. They removed some of the cancer but by definition it could not all be removed. An oncologist hasn’t seen him yet.
To stay alive, I’ve been writing. I can’t tell if the play’s any good, but at the very least, regardless of what happens with the play or anything else, I can say: I meant it.
Depression, dark and pointless, over these past few weeks. Haven’t felt like moving, thinking, or breathing much. I cry a lot. Travelled to San Francisco last weekend, met some good friends who did their decent best to cheer me and remind me of my humanity.
Mandy got the call yesterday from her mother. Her father went into the hospital with stomach pain. They sent in a camera and found what they think is a lot of colon cancer. We’re on a plane tomorrow morning to Boston.
It comes in waves, sometimes.
“The Hermit Bird” is a short play, less than one act, that I wrote in an all-night marathon at school. It won a writing contest and convinced me to write more. Eighteen years later, I’m working with Virago Theater to expand the piece into a full-length play.
Such a length of time for the development of a play is not unheard of. Tennessee Williams’s greatly underappreciated “Orpheus Descending” cooked for seventeen years from the original version to the final. And Peter Shaffer has hacked away on “Amadeus” for more than two decades running. Thornton Wilder compulsively rewrote “Our Town,” rarely letting be staged without tweaking something. And don’t get me started about Star Wars. Ultimately, I feel that if a story lives in the heart of the teller, then it has an indefinite shelf life.
So every time I sit down and try to type this thing out, I am quite sure that the story has vanished from me and I’m simply a poseur pretending to be a writer, and then I start and then the story is there and I’m quite sure it’s not me doing the telling anymore, and I’m simply a reporter telling the facts I’ve witnessed.
Anyway, whatever happens, you’ll be able to watch it at Virago in the spring of 2009.