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12:10 p.m. - 2012-07-02
An Ode To A True Friend

The play yesterday was fabulous! '1776' is a lovely all play around. Cheeky in places, smart, important ideas are spoken and sung about in common language and made very clear. As for the theater company itself they were everything good community theater should be. All the actors looked like they were enjoying themselves and there wasn't a dud in the bunch. The costumes were a terrific mix some very obviously tailor-made and others clever thrifty cobbled together bits borrowed from friends. The wigs especially. More than one guy was sporting what was obviously his grandmother's best wig bobby-pinned half to death to tamp down its perma-curls. Ben Franklin's wig was hilariously awful but the guy playing Ben Franklin made it work. Otherwise the whole production was polished- no sets falling over, no flubbed cues. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and in odd moments thought about how many, many hours of hard work went into putting on such a wonderful show. I thought about how maybe a few of the younger ones had ambitions to bigger things but for most of the actors this was it. An unpaid gig in a converted barn on a country road, a show run on such a shoestring budget that the actors ran offstage at intermission to man the refreshment stand still in costume. I thought about how much they must love what they do and wondered what it would be like to have such passion for my art. I thought perhaps if all the computers and then all the paper went away that I'd probably get around to writing on walls with a burnt stick just because I HAD to write, but the devotion to craft and the joy in the doing I saw yesterday was on a whole other level entirely. I rather envied it. I also envied the community of it. Putting on a show is a shared experience.

Writing is a solitary thing. Most writers I know (including me) are crabby iconoclasts who when working huddle away alone in their rooms hunched over their machines and glare like badgers when interrupted. We are the players, orchestra, set dressers, and audience all in one and are just fine with that. It's only at the very end after working, rehearsing and making the damn thing happen in its entirety that we let anyone else in. Even my darling Mick, who sees more of my work than anyone else and (very rarely) is used as a sounding board mid-process, is expected to read respectfully, laugh in the right places, praise me extravagantly and then go away. I can't imagine sharing my creative space with a horde of others and have to rely on them to feed me my lines and sing a duet or (horrors!) join me as part of an entire chorus. I can't see myself as part of a gang.

At least part of a creative gang. I've joined another gang though. Yesterday Steph and I fell out laughing over our Twittering Biddy thing and decided we're getting jackets. Bad ass leather jackets with our gang colors on the back. "That's right, mofo, we're the Twittering Biddies and you'd best back the fuck off! You don't want to mess with the Biddies, we'll talk you half-deaf and then give you a spit bath with a napkin. And tell you to stand up straight and get your hair out of your eyes. So just watch yourselves."

Who else is in? Steph and I know we're not the only Twittering Biddies out there who get it.

For lunch we went yet again to our favorite diner. We could have gone to Rhinebeck early and had lunch in one of the chichi cafes up there. We could have even stayed in Po-town and tried a new venue. But we like our diner. The food is great. The service is always attentive and friendly. It's easy to get to from Steph's (man, does she live just outside the most snarled and crazy tangle of one-ways, roundabouts, and dead ends!) and the parking is spacious enough that I never worry Mick's precious Focus is going to get a door ding. The busboy/Gunga Din has an especial eye for Stephanie and is forever topping off our water glasses and discretely hanging around in case Stephanie has a whim he can fulfill. It's a great place to have lunch. We sit talking forever and nobody gives us dirty looks. Of course, we always leave a gigantic tip so the server isn't ripped off from us taking up so much of her real estate for such a long time. It's the fair thing to do.

This visit to the same old diner got me to thinking (as always). As much as I crave adventure I am also a creature of comfort and habit. I think my impetus to go new places and see new things is less about needing a novelty fix than it is about me securing the right place for me to be. Because once I find someplace that works I'm all good. I love Mini-dunk. I love my little pointy-roofed grandma house. I like the diner where Steph and I have our terrific lunches. One of the things we discussed in depth yesterday was where we would want to live if given a choice. Both of us loathe hot weather. Retiring to Florida would be punishment, not a reward. We're forever trying to figure out if there's a place where it's sweater weather all the time. I told her having lived away (horrible, horrible Texas), having traveled across the US (if not anywhere else) and seriously tried on what it would be like to live in Boulder or Seattle or Taos or Moscow, Idaho, I know in my heart I need and want to be here in the Hudson Valley. Near enough to the best city on the planet, yet on the next block over from my house there's a dairy farm. I love the tired worn down hills of the Catskills and it's a damn odd week I don't cross the Hudson River over one bridge or another and glory in its beauty. The Hudson is as necessary to me as any of my other flowing veins. I've said it before, I only want to go away so at the end I can come home.

Steph is of much the same mind. Sure, living way upstate to be near her daughters would give her a thrill (eventual grandchildren!), but the part of her that's not a mother would long for her home turf of Po-town and its comforting memories and proximity to NYC. We talked A LOT about how much we owe our kids and where the break between Mom and Self is.

Just one of the reasons I adore her. With Stephanie I don't have to pretend anything. I don't have to cover my ass and maintain a fauxly hearty brain-dead status as a wife or a mother or as a (soon to be) Twittering Biddy. Stephanie gets it. She understands that you can love your kids and your husband and your life, yet sometimes yearn to walk an entirely different reality. Steph knows that no one can be summed up in a neat tidy package where every thought and desire jibes with the rest. She isn't automatically rejecting and horrified if a want or desire strays from the orthodoxy. Not hers or mine.

How lucky am I?

How wonderful is it that along with the blessing of finally having a satisfying happy marriage that I found another soul-mate? A woman friend who gives me the elbow room to be my whole self? A best buddy who can laugh at sick jokes, ironies, discrepancies, and sometimes outrageously stupid desires and still not give me any grief for voicing them? I only hope I offer this same safe house in return.

I love you, Stephanie.


A grateful friend always, ~LA

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