The place was small and quiet, and while I’d been nervous, had even declined the invitation when it was first offered, I was glad I’d come. It was to be a working weekend; we each had independent projects, mine in the stage of beginning, her’s in need of a rewrite.
I’d been worried that I’d read to much, chat too much, sleep to much, drink too much, miss my son too much. And all those fears came true, but as it turns out, when you’re on your own– no husband or son, no one to clean up after but yourself, no house to tidy, shoes to tie, baths to run– you can do too much of everything and still have ample time to write.
I started a new play I’ve been thinking about, one of these pieces that I couldn’t get out of my head, a piece I didn’t want to do at all. So I did what any masochistic playwright would do (I’m pretty sure we’re all masochistic): I wrote it up. It’s not finished, but I got a really good start on it, and just before my train dipped under ground on the way back to Penn Station, I turned on my own personal hot spot and sent the pages to Brad Rothbart, friend and dramaturg, who’s the one who said I should write it up in the first place.
We spent the weekend in her family’s sweet little cottage on the North Fork. Under the shady umbrella of the tree-enclosed back yard, we set up our laptops. The kettle whistled from the kitchen. The keys on our macs clacked amicably. The squirrels chased, the cardinals breasted. We broke for lunch, then came back to it, armed with fresh coffee and sun block.
Since I did all this writing, I figured I’d share one of the speeches with you. The one I like best is basically pornographic, so I’m not sharing that one here (because there are children and Grandma’s on the internet), but I like this one too. (If you’d like to read the other one I’ll send it to you, just ask).
The play is about five parents whose kids are all in the same pre-K. The play is about sex and space travel. So far I’m calling it Sex and PreK, but I don’t think that will stick. It has structural similarities to my play I Am Not an Allegory (these are people i know), and I’m happy about that.
Riley is a mom with two kids, Carrie and Jack. Her husband spends the whole play off stage, because some of them are like that. This is sort of an interspersed speech, which is part of the structure, asides between scenes.
Not every kid’s gonna make it. That’s the deal. Some kids die horribly sometimes, like really horribly. Or live lives that are worse than death-
because there are things worse than death. I’m not saying that’s not bad, I mean it’s really bad, but it’s gonna happen. Life really sucks for some people, and it always will. It’s not gonna be, y’know, beautiful all the time. A girl in Carrie’s class lost her mom this year. The mom, she just Died. It was super sudden, unexpected, hit and run. No reason to it, it’s not one of those things where you can say “God always has a plan,” because my guess is God didn’t authorize this hit and run.
(thinking it through)
I don’t think God has that much power. God is God and he loves us and that’s really beautiful. The love in our hearts, the quiet yearning toward that love, like a sapling on the forest floor, reaching up, that small pinprick of light up top above the green, above the leafy cover… He loves us, there is love, that is God, but everything else… everything else is on us. The physical plane of existence, the chemical reactions, the emotional outbursts, the fast moving cars that strike down bright, strong women… in the prime of her very life… That’s on us, that has nothing to do with God at all. I don’t blame God for the bad things, and I don’t give him credit for the good. Only love. That’s all. Only love.