No one asks me anymore if I get lonely; it must be my age or a misunderstanding. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the world is collapsing into a void of black hole-indifference. But more likely, my colleagues and acquaintances believe my life is too exciting to include them. This is not the case. Waking up alone in an apartment, years after discovering that some women abandon marriage like drivers abandon used cars, I fill my days with work, writing, and different qualities of silence. The latter, however, usually entails much thinking, observing, or backpacking, and I do have times of enjoyment, albeit, in the company of…the birds, the bees, the bears, and the trees. This is because I spend quality time in the presence of those things and creatures I love or find intriguing. This is also true of people- as they become more unusual, they become more interesting (except on truly blind dates when “she” asks if you would like to return with her to the mother ship).
I remember sitting in the car in downtown Manhattan watching a street lunatic, dancing back and forth round a corner curb. He sideswiped a lamppost, then measured his arm out as if commanding a brutish creature. Then, with a gentle gesture, the character gathered the invisible beast in his arms, lifting it, and setting the unseen creature near the lamppost. From a ratty backpack, the man drew out a piece of rope, and began restraining the beast. I strained to watch, but my driver jerked forward, leaving behind a back-window glance of the man petting his imaginary dog. I confess I giggled like a fifth grader hearing about “boobies,” the short drama at the corner proved so memorable, I can picture even the sunshine in my memory. Maybe it is because some of the more poignant truths about humanity are reflected in moments when the world reveals itself when we are alone. And, yes, I was alone in the car, even though three other people sat in it…because I saw the illusion and imagined the reality.
I teach a theatre class. And, I am writing a play for them to perform. As I explain character movement, I can’t help but think of the lunatic near 4th Avenue, restraining his imaginary dog. I must convince my actors that there is a table in the room when nothing stands there…there is a couch in the adjacent living room that exists only in our minds…a place the audience must keep alert to picture what should be there.
The dancing man of Manhattan tried to restrain an imaginary dog. I am trying to restrain imagination to create a specific character and watch he or she come alive on stage, embodied with traits from real people. While the lunatic’s drama was memorable, I won’t be introducing any imaginary dogs in my upcoming production…