Sunday, July 31, 2011

Memories, journals, being alone, Krapp's Last Tape

I've been spending, it seems, a lot of evenings alone. Sue, when she's not working her two jobs, one of which takes her out at night, has been doing a lot of yoga in the evenings. Right now she's on the Cape taking care of her mom who just had surgery and she's visiting with friends while she's there. Thursday she leaves for Canada for about a week. School is keeping me busy, but not so busy that there aren't moments when I look around and wonder, Hey, where'd everyone go?

You--I--fall into old patterns, and I don't necessarily like that. Don't like living in the past, though I've been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly because I've been reading and researching a lot of scripts and the lives and works of different playwrights including Sam Shepard and Tennessee Williams. Thornton Wilder, too. Those writers and their work took up a lot of my time and energy a while ago. You, that is, I can't help but read those scripts and think, well, when I was saying this I was downstage right and here I crosssed to center and then she...

Or why the hell didn't I see this particular subtlety or nuance in the writing then? It's so obvious. Yeah, well...

Or how embarrassing what that?

I was thinking this morning about what it would be like to have no memories at all. What would a man be like if he didn't have any memories, or purposely chose to forget them? I know I've jettisoned so much of my past--for good reason, I think. I remember one day I just piled up everything in my living room that she gave me and picked it all up and threw it in the dumpster. A big pile of stuff. Most liberating day of my life. You--we don't realize how memories and feelings and emotions cling to things. Like dust. Or mold. And it affects us.

And when Sue and I were moving into this apartment, this place, this space that is so much a home for me, a place with wonderful memories and a place for starting over and a place so filled with warmth and laughter and love, when Sue and I were moving here I filled two garbage bags with stuff from my past, just cleaned out drawers of old theater programs of shows I was in, pictures and memorabilia and all sorts of crap. Mostly because I didn't want to move it. And, truth be told, I just wanted to clean house, too.

Memories. Where was I? See, when you don't have memory, it's not only hard to know where you've been, but where you're going.

Oh yes. Spending nights alone. I write. When I'm alone I write in my journal, the thoughts that rattle and buzz in my head that I'd normally just spew out to Sue and then they'd disappear. I usually write in my journal first thing when I get up. I'm still in that dream state and my head is in both worlds. And then I leave my journal open for over the course of the day I'll jot things down. Memories. I even post the time with the date. I do that because once my thoughts came so fast sometimes I was posting in my journal at thirty second intervals. Can you imagine your brain going that fast? That out of control?

I don't do that so much now--writing first thing--now that Sue and I are together because our habit is  we sit on the couch in the morning drinking coffee and talking. It's my favorite part of the day, drinking coffee, slowly waking up, seeing Sue and having that intimate time together.

But when Sue's not here, I'm like a hoarder hoarding my memories and thoughts. It's not a bad thing. It's a record. I've been doing it for years. Since I was around thirteen, really, when a student teacher I had for English at Woodward High School, Miss Harbert, told us to keep a journal. What did I know? I went home and started writing what was going on in our house and what I was thinking and doing. Looking back, it's a wonder Social Services wasn't called in, all what was going on in our house and what I was doing after hours. But it taught me the value of writing, and keeping memories.

Some people hate that I do it. Exes, for instance. In an argument I can call up my journal and say that at such and such a time this was going on. ("Yes, but that's your interpretation, it doesn't mean it's true.") But it's the one place I'll allow myself to live in the past. To face the past and what I've done and how I've lived. Someday I might have an evening like Krapp's Last Tape. Look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about. You'll be glad you did.

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