Monday, August 31, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday (Birthday Edition)

About a year ago I wrote an entry entitled Poetry is for Suckers. At the time I was undergoing an enormous shift in my life and had come upon a terrible notion: The sinking feeling that something we had been taught to believe in our whole lives, was a lie.

When I found out that there was no Santa Claus (my sister let it slip, simply and without fanfare. My mother had made me a Dorothy-from-the-Wizard-of-Oz dress and told me that Santa brought it. When it ripped, my sister told me that it was okay...mom would fix it, you know, since she made it.) I wasn't shocked or hurt. We've mythologized the "No Santa" rude awakening into a persecution of childhood fantasy. It is pointed out as the first in the inevitable series of lies and broken trusts that will occur throughout one's life.

But it didn't bother me. I had kind of figured it out, that there was no such thing. It was a fun imagining, but it didn't make a whole lot of logical sense. And though I could not articulate it at the time, I sympathized with the adults' melancholy efforts to maintain some semblance of magic int he world.

There are other, more awful, lies to be uncovered.

A year ago, I believed I had uncovered just such a lie: There is no such thing as love.

Want? Sure.

Need. Yes.

But Love? nope.

We take it for granted that it exists. Love gets thrown around. What's the lyric from the Queen/Bowie "Under Pressure"?: Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn. Over used and worn out.

When this realization hit me - the idea that there was no such thing as love - I sank into a black hole. The notion, the very concept of love was so much a part of my fabric, it was like I had discovered that my skin didn't exist. Why should love exist, anyway? We're just a sack of chemicals - it's just a trick to get us to procreate. But in the end, there is no one else who is going to know you, care for you, or even be interested? Love is just an excuse for bad poetry and deodorant commercials.

This toilet bowl of self pity swirled for several months, making this past winter one of the darkest I can remember.

And then...

There's always an "And then..."

I've known my friend Notnits for 11 years. We've written plays together. I've considered him a gifted writer and excellent collaborator. His bright evened out my dark. (While in New York for Let There Be Light...! a reporter once asked me if I thought we were the Lennon and McCartney of Chicago Playwrights. I liked that...even though I was somewhat dismayed to be Lennon. I'm more of a McCartney fan.)

I was in the dark for a long time. Notnits is not just a collaborator. He is not just a gifted writer. He is, without a doubt, one of the most solid, steadfast, surprising men I have ever known. After 11 years, it gets easy to rest on assumptions of what or who you think a person is. Since the light dawned a couple of months ago, it has been a joy to uncover all the things I had not even begun to see before. The last 11 years was just the tip of the iceberg.

The day you realize you love someone is not the end of the effort. It is the day you realize that there is work to be done. And that you are willing to do it.

Work is not a bad thing. There is good work and bad. Bad work is stultifying and soul killing. Good work is fulfilling, exciting, and gratifying.


Today is Notnits birthday. Happy Birthday.

4 comments:

joe g said...

I was always Lennon too, but I'm alright with it.

Happy birthday, Notnits!

Erica said...

Yay! Happy Bday to Notnits! And yay to love!

Kate said...

Delurking to make sure you know about this....

http://www.chicagohumanities.org/en/Genres/Literature/2009-Poets-in-Conversation-Billy-Collins-and-Kay-Ryan.aspx

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Notnits! Hooray for love!!!!!!!!

Crazypants said...

oh i like this very much.
and happiest of birthdays to mister!

 
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