Archive for February, 2011

Surviving Self

A short monodrama written for my Writing for Performance Class. Enjoy!

Fade in: male, 18-24 demographic, rail-thin almost skeletal, clean-cut, short hair (which coincidentally makes him look much younger). He speaks quickly, seems . Despite that however there is a quiet strength to his character. He holds his head high, and flippantly speaks of tragedy. He is dressed simply: American Eagle shirt, Gap jeans, belt, sneakers (likely worn). Seems to think out loud, at least in a private setting. He sits, knitting, Michael Bublé’s “Everything” fade’s out as light’s fade in. Character hums along while knitting for a short while.

Sound of door opening, character looks up expectantly, almost blissfully. As it is obvious someone else is talking, the character’s expression changes from bliss, to a studied non-emotion. His voice is pitched soft, as though negotiating with someone about to jump off a roof, or otherwise equally irrational.

Quick flash of alarm, then stonefaced:

Alright… why?


I see. [Tone changes to despondency.] Can I have a day before I tell him?

Pause. Followed by sound of door closing. Character winces, puts down the knitting, sighs, stands, runs hands over his face, looks almost at the knitting, partially off stage-apron. When he speaks, it almost seems as though he is speaking to himself.

But I don’t want to get rid of our boyfriend [Beat] Can’t say he didn’t bring up good points though, and at the very least James isn’t angry because I’m paying more attention to Eric, which I’m desperately trying not to and terrified I am, but because Eric isn’t paying enough attention to James.


But I love Eric. And James. Who said I can’t love two people evenly? ‘Cause they can shove it. I fought long and hard in order to figure out who I am, and I have never been happier damn it.


Maybe I should just explain why this is terrible for me. James should understand… But he does have a REALLY good point… It’s just, Sigh I really do love him, them… both. I finally get to express who I really am in a relationship. And of course it turns sour. Story of my life.


Take San Francisco for instance. Growing up gay, S. F. is the West Coast Mecca of gay culture. You go through High School tormented; if not by others then by exactly how much of yourself you let loose, by whether or not to be yourself or whether or not you let yourself be eaten by the mob mentality. And the only thing that makes that bearable is the knowledge that once you graduate, you get to be Elsewhere.

And then life takes that away. That semester of indecision in Junior year full of nothing takes any immediate sense of escape away from you. So you stay behind, do some community college (Aside: With a vengeance) to get everything in order so that you can finally get to the City.


And you do! Miracle of life; everything falls into place and you’re on a moving truck with your life in the back, getting someplace where it won’t matter what your sexuality is, or whether or not you choose to parade it around on top of a float.


Except the pieces that make up that picture don’t fall quite right. So you pretend that your roommate isn’t a drug addict high on meth every time you see her. You pretend the job you got at a different branch of the same company you were working for doesn’t eat away at your soul or individuality or whatever. You shove those concerns that maybe you didn’t finalize something for transfer into the deep recesses of your mind. You pretend your roommate didn’t just invite her dealer to live with both of you. You spend more and more time out of the house. After all, you’re in paradise right?


Then you come home one morning the day after finding out your conditional acceptance was revoked on the basis of HALF of a credit, after spending the night with the guy you’re sleeping with (who, you conveniently ignore also sells Acid) and is begging you to try monogamy one more time, begging you to try and ignore your most recent revelation about yourself, and you come home in the morning… And the police are raiding your apartment for drugs.

Pause, the character seems to be composing himself.

It’s when you’re confronted with the evidence of a plastic nightstand drawer full of meth, pills, and other sundries, a brick of coke and a half-pound of meth that everything falls apart. Then the questions start, did you know? what were you doing? Standard interrogation questions. And you think to yourself, “What the fuck was I doing? How did I let it get to this point?” And the only answer you can come up with is:

Because it was comfortable. Because you didn’t have to worry about who you were, just what you were doing, and you weren’t used to dealing with just what you were doing and you were having [Forcefully] so much fun… So comfort won out over common sense. Story of my life.


And now… Now James is mad because Eric isn’t paying attention to him; he’s mad because Eric isn’t living up to his end of his bargain. So now I have to make the same choice, yet again: do I throw away the last three and a half years of my life for ridiculously fantastic sex, and a partner that doesn’t care that I don’t only love him? Or… do I accept the comfort that my life has become, and say goodbye to someone I love.


I know that this should be an easy choice. Ideologically I want to say that you should always follow your heart… But 3-and-a-half years are hard to throw away. And… I mean, me and James, we’re partners. He’s been with me almost 4 years; he knew what he was getting into when we started dating. I told him up front that I wasn’t monogamous and he needed to be okay with me having sex and being emotional with other people. No choice, it was that or we stop dating. But he stuck through it, stayed with me.


Now, we’ve been through some shit. James being thrown in the brig, our roommates turning against us in a crisis, loosing friends because of our relationship (which I still tell myself was for the better). But it all comes down to the fact that we’re partners. Our lives have become inseparable by now. And not in any sort of romantic ephemeral way, but more concretely just by the simple fact that I’m never sure whose money is paying for which bill. Financially, emotionally, we’re pretty much joined at the hip.


God! I can’t believe I’m struggling over this. I know James would be devastated if I broke it off with him, and considering the plethora of mental issues, I’m not sure he wouldn’t kill himself. Which yes, I know, it isn’t my fault if he does. But… I can’t even describe what this is like. The best analogy I can give is that… it’s like that first time you fell in love. For me, it’s like the first relationship with another man I ever had. There’s this glow as you know that finally, for the first time you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing to make yourself happy.


Alright, it wasn’t quite like that for me. I suspect it isn’t quite like that for anyone. And to be fair, it wasn’t like that when I met James either, so none of this happily-ever-after symbolism. But that first relationship… well, when you’re gay there’s a little more at stake in regards to putting yourself out there for dating. So, nailing that first relationship… pun… ignore it. That first relationship definitely has some angels singing. I don’t know, I suspect even then some part of me knew that this wasn’t everything, that there was more that I was missing.


And then when James invited Eric into the relationship, and Eric said yes… Well I was in Heaven. I’m sure James noticed there was some chemistry the night before but I hadn’t dared to hope. Then… [Pause, shake head smiling, continue] I must have looked like a fool. There I am, standing at the theater, its opening night for The Last Airbender (I know, I’m a geek…), and I get a text from James. Saying… well, it’s a text, it says exactly what I just said: that Eric says yes to joining the relationship. After that there was a lot of bouncing around excitedly. It was great. That was when it felt like I was finally doing something right, something that validated who I was deep down.


So now… now I have to choose which one is more important to me. Can I survive without validation? Probably. God knows I’ve done it before. Can I survive knowing I’ve cast out someone I love? That’s tricky… James said he didn’t live up to his side of the bargain; he couldn’t love both of us equally in any discernable way. I have to agree. So he went against his own word… I could survive, but it wouldn’t be easy. Can I survive without my other half? [Slowly] Well… not really, no. That’s where the life I’m living falls apart; obliterates itself in a white-hot mass of emotionality, yeah something would take its place, something always does. But do I want it to?

Pause, he looks out into the audience, scanning around as though looking around a room he turns, and sits back down, picking up the knitting and placing it in his lap, he looks once more where he’s been speaking.

I guess that settles it then.

He arranges himself to begin knitting again as the lights fade out, and Michael Bublé’s “End of May” fades in.


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Infinite Moments

Small, one-week break from “The Rain’s Truth”. Enjoy!

When I get to the coffee shop there’s a line, of course, there’s always a line. It’s only annoying because I don’t have to think about what I want. Usually I would’ve had to think about it, but I’ve been thinking about this for the past day or so. Unfortunate situations are generally something you want to go over before they happen. At least you do if you’re me. Thinking about where the conversations could go generally helps me deal with them better. Especially if there’s going to be crying involved. There’s going to be crying in this one.

Lizzie called me a couple of days ago to set this up. She works with him, with Dave that is. They’re in the same platoon… She just got back, presumably so did he, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. I’d like to say that I’m not a worrier, but when it comes to people you love going into a war zone… Everyone worries; especially when a friend calls to set up a meeting at a coffee shop just after coming home from Afghanistan. I’ve predicted the worst, and I already spent much of the previous night crying. I despise crying in public.

At the front of the line I order a latte. When the girl asks for my name I look at my phone.

“2:43 pm.”

“Uh… I asked for your name?”

“Yes, and my response was 2:43 pm.”

“Oh. Okay… Haven’t had anyone use the time before. I totally don’t…” I stop listening. She’s not important and I don’t have to listen to her false interest. I give a half-smile when she’s done talking. We can both pretend that it’s out of interest for the conversation, but we both know I’m patronizing her. We exchange money, and I wait for my drink.

Lizzie walks in then, to a considerably lessened line. I swallow hard when I see her. Just off the plane she’s still stiff-postured. Her eyes scan quietly, glancing around without looking like she’s glancing around.

She orders her drink. I don’t wave. I know she saw me, and I know she saw me see her. There are a couple of other people waiting, such that Lizzie’s done ordering her drink before I get mine. She comes up next to me and stands there, nods slowly, quietly. I return my attention to the bar. It’s funny really, I always think of it as waiting on deck before a show. I used to dance in high school, and do theater. I guess I think the coffee won’t disagree with my stomach if I sympathize with it. Then again, sympathy is something I’ve been told I have in abundance.

My drink comes up and I move over to the counter to put sugar in it, four packets for a small, arranged with the sealed edge alternating which side it’s facing. Shake, rip, pour, stir, taste the stirrer to see if I can tell (beyond that it’s wooden) if that’s enough. Decide it always is and put the lid back on. Focusing on automatic, habitual tasks help me to not cry in public. I turn and Lizzie is standing right there. I look around the café, scanning for tables and find one suitably far away enough that should my emotions get the better of me it won’t be terribly embarrassing. Sometimes, I despise that I can’t cry in public; sometimes I despise my self-control.

We sit. I drink my latte, and we make small-talk. I force a smile on my face and force out whatever encouraging noises I can. I wait. I’ve also been told I have the patience of a saint, but just because people can’t see my impatience doesn’t mean it’s not there. I also prefer cultures where when one comes up for business, business is discussed. I do not like mixing the personal observations and anecdotes that formulate small-talk with business; telling me someone I love may or may not be dead is firmly in the business category. But I recognize that Lizzie may not be able to tell me that just out of the blue, and we still have coffee to drink, so we may as well run out of things to say after we run out of coffee.

That’s the theory anyways. 2:43 pm is half-way gone before the silence descends. I stare at the cup, at the time marked onto it, at the liquid inside. I make some poetic analogy in my head about extending moments in order to be comfortable with the silence.

The main reason I haven’t asked what this is about is because I’m not certain I want to know. There’s the horrible chance that someone I love is very likely dead, and despite the nature of our relationship, it would be a psychological trauma to know for sure… It would be cowardice to hide forever though. She finishes her coffee before she’s ready to speak again. 2:43 pm is now three-quarters gone.

“There was a surprise attack at the station we were assigned too. An RPG hit the tank he was working on, exploding the fuel. It shouldn’t have happened… They sent his stuff home, informed his parents, and they’ve probably already had the service by now. It happened three months ago.”

It’s the last part that kills me. Not surprising because we broke up before he left. I’m not a major force in his life, and I have no delusions about where exes fall in the list of people to tell. I breathe deeply, but I can’t bring myself to look at Lizzie.

“I’m sorry; I know he still meant a lot to you… I was trying to figure out a way to tell you, but Curtis left for boot camp two weeks before it happened…” Curtis would have been the only way for me to find out, and I didn’t even know he was gone. I sigh.

“Thank you for telling me.” I leave 2:43 pm where it’s at.

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