This morning a man in a coffee shop said something very positive to me. He seemed like a positive guy. I got in my car with my cup of coffee, placed in the cup holder, sat back and a large muscle in my back flared up.
I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t reaching or flexing, I just had a thought and my back seized up. I must be under a lot of stress. Maybe weeping uncontrollably in the car last night for ten solid minutes had something to do with it. I haven’t had a stress-induced back spasm in years. I also have not cried like that in some time.
It has been a challenging weekend.
You know, strange of strange, it felt like the closing weekend to me, like things had come to an end. I have been disappointed with turnout. I take this too personally. There are a lot of shows going on right now. But they aren’t this show. I wrote this. I lived this. And I never thought I would perform I Hate This ever again – and I am very happy that I am. The text is legend to me, my old story, made new by sound and light and space. I feel so un-alone in it, it’s not just me and Kelly anymore, it’s Josh and Christopher and the house management people, and even the cast across the hall.
The running play is fractured, less labored, more prismic. It is also something to see. I do not believe I will have the opportunity to perform these shows ever again. I have three more performances. I have enjoyed ever single one (that's not true ... performing before my peers last Monday was a little intimidating) and mean to enjoy the hell out the final three.
I feel like bits of my life have been thrown up into the air, at work, at home, in my personal life … this weekend someone came to the show I did not want to see, someone I was hoping never to see again. I did not know who they were during the performance, and thank God for that. They stayed after to say hi, and to ask why I had blocked them on Facebook. Honestly, people who are so arrogantly clueless need to fucking die.
I hurt someone once. I didn’t realize it at the time, people can be ignorant in that way. But that’s the point, I thought about them as though they were just another chapter in my life, to be shelved forever. Until the Internet made it possible to unlock our past and walk right through. And this was in 1999. I fecklessly used a search engine and found their email address. I wrote her, “Hi, how are you?”
She responded, “How wonderful. My father had a stroke last week, my boyfriend wrapped his car around a tree, and now I hear from you.”
I had the opportunity to learn something a long time ago. If you live a normal life, there are people who will hate you. And there is nothing you can do about that. Live with it.
I hate myself for being so goddamn polite to this unwanted audience member. I don’t usually care about the personal stuff I throw up onstage. That’s what I do. But this interloper knew these people I love, from my life, who I speak about. Knowing that they were sitting there, secretly listening, laughing knowingly at these memories, I feel violated. I have never felt like that before, performing my work.
Are you reading this? Here you go. You hurt my brother. And then he left me. You messed with my head. You say you always knew I had it in me, that you told me when I was I kid that I would accomplish great things. Well. From where I am sitting, I would have conquered the world, if it hadn’t been for fucked up people like you.
Don’t contact me, stop trying to “friend” me, don’t “follow my tweets.” Do not respond to this post, stop reading my blogs, do not communicate with me. If you have any respect for me, leave me and my family alone.
As Renee would say, “Moving on …”
Speaking of family, my folks were the audience yesterday. That was awesome. I do not believe my mother has ever seen I Hate This. During Big Box (back in 2003) she was there, in the theater, but she didn’t watch. She sat behind the seating unit, with my infant girl, so my wife could watch – and because, as she related, because she couldn’t. Not because she felt I was unfair to her, but because she didn’t like to see me relive such pain.
It was great fun to hear them and the party they came with explode with laughter when I call him “fat.” I had to stop and say, “… what?” Good timing. Kelly kept an eye on Mom, she says she laughed every time I dropped and F-bomb.
The audiences have been wonderful to me. I have been working to sense where they come from to watch these two shows. I can spot fellow travelers pretty easily. There are key moments during the performance where I will watch a man put his hand on the hand of the woman he is with, and I know. And then there are the runners, who love all the running minutiae.
And then there are the American Greetings employees, they are a special segment of the audience.
On Saturday night I was joined by friends I wouldn’t even know if it weren’t for the loss of our children. We went to XYZ afterwards and indulged in war stories. It’s been so long since I have felt liberated enough to do that. Nothing changes. Couldn’t talk about it then, can’t talk about it now. It was a welcome release.
Okay, so I have been emotional, for obvious reasons. A little to close to the skin this weekend. Then I get home and find this message from Michael Heaton, entitled "jim mcgonagle pastor at St. Ignatius of Antioch ...":
So. I’m a rock star. Most people would be overjoyed. I collapsed on the couch and whimpered for a little longer.