Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Let me tell you a secret. They all jump…

It was last night. We were sitting on our patio in the slightly chilly, autumn (no, not you Autumn!) evening, sharing a quiet moment to celebrate our three-month anniversary. We both held bottles of cider. After a moment, I said, "Um, well, cheers." and we clinked the bottles together.

My mind wasn't entirely there. My mind was where it had been all day. It was on a very high bridge… and I was getting ready to jump.

I'd been bothered for days by this frozen moment that had popped into my head and, quite frankly, I just wanted it to go away. I knew what it was. It was a play.

Yes, it was a new play.

But I didn't want to talk to a new play and I especially didn't want to talk to this new play.
I must have been some company. "Well," I said, obviously distracted, "a lot has happened in three months." For a moment, I was silent and then said, as if she didn't know, "I met you three months ago."

Then, I was back up on that bridge.

You see, the problem is that you can never do enough. You can never give enough. There are some things that consume you, whether you want them to or not. With me, that equates a bunch of manuscripts carelessly left behind. Before Rosa and I split up, I'd started on my best novel to date, Vampire Society. I could never finish it now, though, thanks to how much I've changed since then and the fact that it condemns SUV owners… (Love ya, Vic!) Last year, I was writing, This They Call Freedom, a play that I'll probably not finish, thanks to how much I've changed since then.

That's another thing. Change. Nobody ever warned me how devastating that can be on a life. And it seems to come faster with every year! And it's not just me! Tim Clostio used to be a writer - now he can't even contemplate that! Tim Murphy has totally changed since he got married a few years back. Three years ago, Sean and I could barely stand to be in the same room - now we're buds. Vicky didn't intend to get engaged when she went to shoot pool the evening of June 20.

It's an old saying but the old constant is change. The primary reason that All Life is Suffering (Buddhism 101) is change! I can deal with change as an idea but when it stops me from finishing things, which then stops me from starting things out of the guilt of not finishing thing (and let's not talk about not starting things: Hello! The screenplay!), I get irate!

Vicky wanted to go inside. She was a bit cold.

I said little as I got up. I was back on that bridge.

I've been there for days, watching this frozen moment. Two guys, both ready to jump, hanging onto the cables.

… there's my play.

There's my play? The first time the thought occurred to me, I was incredulous. You've got to be kidding! I left the edge of the Grand Canyon two years ago, I thought. There's no need for me to write about suicide!

But like tumblers in a very complicated lock, things are falling into place. Things that tell me this may actually be the best time for me to write this play. That's why the idea has come now.

First reason: economy. I started a piece a few years ago about suicide but stopped after about six pages. So, I have material.

Second reason: jokes. I have them. Most of the jokes I've been writing lately have been rather morbid… which would seem apropos.

Third reason: I never did fully explore suicide in any of my writings and, as close as I came, I may have some insight. You don't just step on that ledge once or slit your wrists one time. Like a kid jumping from a swing or a runner getting in the right state of mind for a race, you do it over and over and over again. Even after I didn't jump, the inclination to jump was so strong that I still felt it even after I was sure I'd never do it. It was habitual. It was instinctive.

Earlier, Vicky and I started to watch Doc Hollywood (with Michael J. Fox). I really love that movie because it doesn't provide a scapegoat to blame everything on. People try to be nice to each other… they just make mistakes. They're human. I said to Vicky, "I wish I could write stories like that."

But you look at Everything Changes. And you look at Atheists. At Whatever Happened to Me. At Revelations….. I don't write stories like that. And it occurred to me that, sometimes, the stories one loves to read one doesn't always write or perform or create. There are probably Expressionists who admired Naturalists. There may be Existentialists who long to be Behavioralists. Robert Englund would probably love to do a musical!

Fourth reason to write this: Because I can. I write twisted stories of frustrated people who have a lot to vent. Hello! There's someone at the door! His name is Opportunity!



Even as I typed the last paragraph, I realized, though, that I'm still too twisted up about the idea. I'm just not sure.

Let's face it. It's well-explored territory. Find yourself a sitcom that never dealt with it and you'll have one that didn't last a season! Beyond that, I can see the path this thing would take - the same way you can see a street when you look at a map but it doesn't look like the real street… it just shows you which way it goes. It would be convoluted… and there would be a woman involved (a third character). Lastly, how do you resolve something like that satisfactorily? Kill them both? A little dark. Let them live? Calling Mr. Disney! It's treacherous territory.

Any thoughts?

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