Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Play Is The Thing

Since forever ago my friend Judy has wanted to direct Arsenic and Old Lace at the Opera House in Monticello and has been talking to me about being in it and I've always said I would be and that it would be a treat and yes, of course! but all of a sudden, it is time, auditions have been this weekend and I have not gone. In fact, I have called Judy and told her that at this point in my life I just cannot be in a play.
I haven't done that in forever. Be in a play, that is, and there's part of me that bemoans this fact and part of me that knows that it would kill me. The last play I was in just about DID kill me. I felt horribly miscast and never could fit into the skin of my character the way I wanted to and memorizing lines was just the most stressful thing and although the coming-together of rehearsals and the creativity of the, well, creation of the play was, as always, a joy, the performances were more of a nightmare for me and when I think of doing another play now it makes me want to cry and I think that's a pretty good indication that no, I shouldn't do it.
Or maybe it's an indication that I SHOULD but that's another line of reasoning and one that I don't embrace.

I feel quite conflicted about all of this. I WANT to be a person who has lively and interesting "outside" interests. Who can spend a day taking care of her grandchildren and then get in her car and drive to Monticello to hang out with lovely people and laugh and work together to make something whole and real out of words on paper with her body, her voice, her face. Who CAN slip her own skin and become someone else. Who can learn the words so well that she can let the other character take over, let the magic occur, wear the make-up, the costumes, make the make-believe believable under lights on the worn, beautiful boards of the stage of the Monticello Opera House which is always an honor and a joy to perform in.
I do want to. And even as I write that, it all sounds so fabulous and it is when it's working right.

But I do not think it would be that way for me right now. This has just been such a hell of a year with people dying and people getting married and so many trips away from home and part of me is just afraid that something else is going to happen and I'm going to have to attend to it and the show must go on, there is no way around that and besides, I just don't have the energy and oh, it takes so much energy to do it and to do it well. And so, no, I am not going to be in Arsenic and Old Lace and they will be having fun without me and that thought galls me too because being in a play is work, yes, but it is PLAY, after all, and the best and most profound way for an adult to play with others, if that adult is not a musician which I am most definitely not. Not in this lifetime but maybe the next but I can't count on that, not for one second and besides, I only have, strictly speaking this very one I'm living in.

Oh well. I'm rambling.

Jason and the boys came out and we took the boat that Mr. Moon is going to use for gator-hunting next month (yes, he is going to do that again) down to the Wacissa River and it was a very fine time.

My boys on the boat.
It was a short trip but a good one. The water was clear and there were birds in abundance. The egrets, the herons, the ducks, the coots. There were turtles sunning on logs and there were gators, at least a half a dozen, hanging suspended, doing their best imitations of floating logs. We went down a side waterway and stopped and got out and swam in the water which is cold enough to take the breath away. It was heaven.

The boys loved the ride and although the cold water was a bit much for them when it came time to put their entire bodies in it, they spent a good deal of the ride with their hands in the water. "It's beautiful!" Owen said and he was right. 

After we got home, Jason took a sleeping Gibson back to Tallahassee but Owen stayed with his Boppa and his MerMer for awhile. I heated up pancakes from breakfast for him and made him hot chocolate in his favorite cup and when I changed out of my bathing suit and into my dress he looked up as I came into the kitchen where he was sitting with Bop and said, "You look beautiful, Mer!" 
Oh my heart. 
He was sweet all day long, so sweet. The sort of sweet you'd want your grandchild to be or your child or your mate or your boyfriend or your anybody at all. When I told him I was coming on the boat ride when they got here he said, "Oh Mer! I so glad! I love you so much! I been missing you!" 

Oh Jesus. Yes. They tell you that having grandchildren is the very best thing and the most wonderful but frankly, I thought they were making that shit UP. How could it possibly be that good? 
Well. It is. It just fucking is and that's all there is to it. It's wonderful and it's amazing and it reminds me of how I felt when Hank was born, my first born, that feeling of love which was like nothing I'd ever felt before which encompassed and surpassed all of the sorts of love I'd ever felt, up to and including the romantic and why did no one ever talk about that? Yes. I have felt a sort of romantic love for all of my children when they were babies and yes, I feel the same for Owen and for Gibson. A romantic, fierce, protective, joyful, desperately-hopeful-for-all-good-things-in-their-entire lives sort of love. And with grandchildren, there is even another note, another element which comes, I guess, from not being totally responsible for their physical well-being. I can't quite explain it. Lily and Jason are the parents and as such, are the first-line defenders of their sons. They are the ones who must keep the larders stocked at all times and make sure of the health care and worry about their educations which leaves their grandfather and me to be able to more purely and simply just enjoy them. Of course all of those things are important to us and will always be as long as we are alive but there is something which tells me that my most important job with them is to share joy with them. 
To express to them and with them how much just their very being on this planet is a joy to us and how their presence is a miracle to us.

I will be honest. There are days when I'm tired and they're here that after about six hours I am longing for a nap. When the constant, "MerMer, watch this!" gets wearisome and I have perhaps heard Brown Sugar one too many times. This is the truth of childcare, no matter how much love is involved. But. I wouldn't trade any of this for anything. The fact that Owen knows where everything in my house is pleases me no end. That Gibson, too, is learning this world that is his grandparent's house. That he has his favorite books and toys and knows where I keep the treats and is learning to take care of the chickens the way his big brother does. And I can see how this relationship they have with us adds a whole other dimension to their lives which is unique and yes, important. To be loved so purely for nothing more than their sheer existence. To be delighted in so obviously. And for us, the grandparents, it is at least as amazing. To have a child love you in the way grandchildren love you is just something no one can really tell you about. It, like all sorts of love, has to be experienced to be understood.

Well. The rain is falling again, pouring and I am thinking that we need as many words for "rain" as the Eskimos by legend at least, have for snow. This is the falling-like-hammers rain. The toad-strangler rain. The falling-so-fast-it-collects-on-the-ground-in-rivers rain. And somehow it is already almost seven thirty and I have to get supper cooked.

I am not going to be in Arsenic And Old Lace but I still get to play. 
I am a grandmother and I play and I work and I get to experience all sorts of creation and it's good. I know myself well enough by now to know my limitations and I am a woman of vast limitations. And for right now I do not need that many outside interests. I do not need to drive to Monticello three times a week and to be onstage with make-up on, pretending to be another person or, perhaps to be more optimistic about my acting abilities, becoming another person. With Owen and Gibson I am grandmother and sometimes that means being a pirate and sometimes that means being nothing more than arms and heart and soul and kisses. I will not be participating in the creation of a play but I am up to my eyeballs in the creation of my grandsons' universe.

For now, that is what I need and want to do. And hell, I can wear make-up if I want to and if I do, Owen will notice (because he notices everything) and might tell me I'm beautiful. And no matter what, Gibson will say, "I love you," and put his arms around my neck and squeeze me and kiss me. 

That'll do. That'll damn well do. 
Applause always makes me uncomfortable anyway. 

Some day I'll tread those boards again but for right now, I'm extremely content just to tread the ones here in my house and the ground of my yard from porch to chicken coop, to the garden, to see the goats next door, alone or holding the hand of Gibson, never quite able to keep up with Owen who runs ahead and says, "Come on, MerMer! Come on!"

Sunday night. All is well. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. "It's wonderful and it's amazing and it reminds me of how I felt when Hank was born, my first born, that feeling of love which was like nothing I'd ever felt before which encompassed and surpassed all of the sorts of love I'd ever felt, up to and including the romantic and why did no one ever talk about that?"

    What haunts me? Is that is ALL almost all in my life talk about. From my family with my ten nieces and nephews, right down to my social media. If that surpasses all love -- then what the hell am I doing here? Why do I have a purpose?

    Heavy thoughts. It's Sunday.

  2. Those little squirts are too cute, and we saw your first-born tending to his flock Friday night. That crew really knows how to make their own fun.

  3. I am a firm believer that we ourselves, more than anyone else, know what's best for us. And you can always go enjoy the play without being in it. In the meantime, enjoy those babies!

  4. It has been a year of too much death for me too. I am still not quite right from all of it. Some days are just getting by days. Others are good, but not too many have been absolutely superlative except for the ones on the boat. I seem to be able to let my cares go there.

  5. SJ- But I will never, ever know what it feels like to do what you do which is incredibly important. We are all part of the puzzle. Do you realize that? Do you realize that you, too, are so important? I hope so.
    Get some rest and then go do what I will never be able to do.
    Love you, girl...M

    Juancho- Hank is like no other, isn't he? Dang. I can't believe sometimes that I gave birth to such amazing beings.

    Nancy- Completely true. Thanks, sweet woman.

    Syd- I need to find my "boat." And yes- death takes a hell of a lot out of us. And I'm doing the best I can. I'm sure you understand.

  6. This might be just about the most beautiful and complete meditation on grandchildren I have ever read. When I have days like I did earlier today, I remind myself that that great and joyful adventure is yet to come. Thank you.

  7. I do wish you were in this one. I think it'd be a lot of fun for you. Believe me, I completely understand why you can't right now.

  8. Angella- When we have those horrible days, those moments when we wonder why go on, we can be sure that there are reasons. And grandchildren- well- yes. Perhaps more than anything. And oh my god! Your grandchildren are going to be so gorgeous and you are going to love them so much! I promise you that. I do and I do and I do. They are waiting in the wings. I can say nothing more than that.

    Jon- I know it's going to be terrific fun. I wish I was going to be part of it but I know it's not the right time. My life here is so fucking full. I know you understand. Now do a good job! And I know you will. You always do a great job.

  9. Oh, I love this. You know -- my own children live thousands and thousands of miles away from my parents, their grandparents, yet despite this, they LOVE one another and that has always been so amazing to me. You do such an incredible job of writing of your love for them and theirs for you -- it takes the sting out of worrying what the future will bring!

  10. You know how much I love when you write of your love for your family. It is that light that shines in your eyes when you see them and in your voice when you speak of them. Owen gives it right back to you as dies Gibson in his loving gestures. I am envious and so happy for you too. You are so deserving of that give and take of love and creating that is more important than being in a play that you're better off enjoy watching as an audience member this year I think. I also think everything is going to be ok from here on out - well except maybe for the dogs. BTW, MY WORD IS MEEMER

  11. Meemer. Ha.

    Juancho, it was fun running into you during our adventures. After you saw us, we went to a show, were turned away by the Side Bar, and welcomed with open arms at St. Mike's. We sent Rudy off with a hangover, as planned.

    (Hi, mom.)

  12. That Anon comment was from me - Sweet Jo and I forgot to say Owen is getting o big in one of the pics I wasn't exactly sure it was him!

  13. What a lovely post . . . It makes me sad that my kids have not got grandparents like you and Bop. My Mum tries to arrange coffee with me for when the kids are out (and believe me this is not a reflection on the kids) I wonder why? She also says "I might have been a crap mother, but at least I'm a good grandmother" . . . Hello!?
    I would love her to read this post, but I wouldn't hurt her like that. She is not capable of love.
    Sorry to go on so. X

  14. You've captured the essence of what it feels like to be a grandparent SO well with your words! My heart and eyes are swollen from reading this and knowing that your words ring true. Sigh.

    My youngest was in Arsenic and Old Lace, played Einstein. It's a very fast paced play, I thought. Not as fast as a day with your boys, I bet!

    Enjoy them!

  15. Well if that isn't the most beautiful and perfect and true definition of grandmother, I don't know what is. I think there is an element in there of having these little creatures come from your own child that adds some icing to this cake. I miss my own little munchkin like crazy right now.

    it's a wonderful thing to know and acknowledge one's limitations.
    You are a wonder Ms Moon.

  16. Elizabeth- It's some sort of evolutionary miracle, I think. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

    Sweet Jo- Meemer? Ha! I guess I do deserve this in that I gave birth to their mama. Sure is a sweetness. Like you.

    Aquaguard- Fuck off.

    Mr. Downtown- Hi son!

    Bugerlugs- Jesus. I'm sorry.

    Heartinhand- I can barely keep up!

    Yobobe- YOU are a wonder. How is your mother? I know your Mr. Chips misses you so much.

  17. Mary, She is hanging in there, still in hospital. Thanks for asking.

  18. I had one real sweet grandma and one grandma who always bugged me about my manners and posture and went on to do much worse than that, but my point is, reading your words I always think how lucky your family is to have you. I can't imagine a more loving grandmother.

  19. I don't think you have any reason to feel guilty about not being in the play. You know where your heart is at the moment, and why not indulge that? Makes perfect sense to me.

    There aren't many times that I lament not being a parent, but when I hear parents talk about that special bond, that love they can't describe, I always think, "Hmmmm....maybe I really AM missing something here." But c'est la vie. That's the way the world turns.

    It DO think it's true that your grandkids value their relationship with you as much as you do yours with them. When I think of my grandparents I have very vivid, clear, positive memories of them. Our time spent together was always happy. How great that you get to be that kind of memory for a new generation of your family.

  20. Yobobe- This must be a really, really hard time for you.

    Vesuvius At Home- Good Lord! My job as a grandmother is to love and love some more. And keep them alive when they're in my care. What else could be more important?

    Steve Reed- Well, this sort of love is simply Mother Nature's trick of evolution so that we'll keep our children alive long enough to reproduce themselves! But yes, I think it works both ways for grandparents and grandchildren. I really do. The love goes both ways for sure.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.