Friday, November 9, 2012
Actor's Nightmare in Margaritaville
I've been dragging around Margaritaville recently feeling as though someone has stolen my tequila and taken an ax to my blender. Stuck in some kind of negativity hangover, I haven't had much luck at clearing my head. But my fiesta of funk might be leading me somewhere. I'm so fucking bored, I said to myself last night, what I need is a week of theatre-going in New York--like the old days. Of course there's no chance of my getting away now that my mom lives with me. The self-pity danced me around a bit, and then the thought occurred to me: I'm in the wrong play.
I am living the classic actor's nightmare. If you've ever been on stage, you probably know what I mean. It's the week before the show opens or maybe the first week of the run, and you wake panting like a racehorse because in your dream where you're waiting to go on as one of the witches in "MacBeth," you see through an opening in the scenery that your fellow actors are in the deep south, drawling out Tennessee Williams lines on a vine choked veranda. That desolate heath that you're dressed for was last week's play. Or maybe the play is right, and you're there in some overstuffed drawing room with your frilly cuffs, your accent just right, the lynchpin dramatic moment about to occur when the book shelves topple and the lights crash down from above splintering at your feet.
I see life's problems as something meant to be solved. I've raised children, managed a chaotic household, kept the home fires burning behind a husband with a high-powered career. A child with a lisp? Speech therapy. Crooked teeth? Orthodonture. Entertain the new partner? Sure. Roof leaking? Get it fixed. While it would be a ridiculous revision of history to say I managed all of these things gracefully, I did them. I fixed what needed to be fixed, did what needed to be done or at least tried my damnedest, perhaps going wrong (sometimes repeatedly) before choosing a solution that provided at least some relief.
So here I am in the fix-it play, chauffeuring my mother from one specialist to another. Googling into the wee hours to ascertain if it's one of her medications that makes her groan constantly, of if there's a diet to improve circulation or prevent flatulence. I've gotten her new shoes, new hearing aids, a cane, a this, and a that. But there's no fixing what she's got. She's old. She's not going to wake up tomorrow and be 70 again. Or even 80. I am in the wrong play.
And worse yet, there is no play. No script. No stage directions. It's improv. All improv. All the time. With a sad ending. I suck at that.