It’s different writing for an actor than writing straight from scratch. I was set up with Homa Hynes by Mariah McCarthy for her PussyFest project, and we met up at her place a few weeks ago to get started.
It was a bit of a crazy day for me. I had an early afternoon meeting with my old friend Jeremiah to talk about hosting a Sticky in his unused restaurant space in Williamsburg, and I had my son with me, who is almost three. He’s a good sport, and a joy to be around, but he’s definitely an added element when trying to get things done.
We left Jeremiah, headed to Homa, thankfully in the same neighborhood, stopping for bagels and mango juice boxes on the way. When Homa met us at the door, Chars took her hand and followed her inside, even though they’d never met. At first I thought: be concerned, your son is not afraid of strangers, but then a thought: he just instantly likes Homa, and so do I.
Somehow even though we’d just met we had alot to talk about. As we talked about our lives I kept thinking of this story my Gram had told me. It was a personal story, and my Gram doesn’t tell to many personal stories, so over Christmas when she just started talking about herself out of the blue, I listened. My Gram is 90 years old, in possession of her full faculties, and is a very intelligent woman. I’ve written about my Gram before, but always about stories that I’d heard second hand and gone back to her to fact check, never something she told me directly.
This story was about a miscarriage that I’d known had happened somewhere in the late 1950’s or so. But from what Gram told me it was more of a stillbirth, and then as the story went on it wasn’t even a stillbirth. The baby had been born in horrible shape, and would only survive a few minutes. I wanted to cry about it myself, sitting there with my own son, who while quite perfect now, post surgery and recovery, had been born with a skull deformity. But my Gram didn’t cry, it seems she’d got all of her crying done long past. She was very sure that the right decision had been to not look at the child when he was born, that it would be easier to get over if she didn’t have his face in her mind all the time. The thing is, she still blames herself for the death. She’s sure that the baby was irreparably harmed when she took a midnight tumble down the stairs.
Homa and I talked about babies, and it felt very cliche to talk about babies. When I was pregnant I swore to myself that I would never be one of those women who writes about babies. But it turns out being a mom is much more like being a child than I would have thought.
Homa and I decided to write about my Gram, and babies, and trying to be the person you made up for yourself to be. Jordana Williams directs, tomorrow night at PussyFest.