No matter the dusty ghosts and asthmatic attacks, I was hooked immediately! The actors and the designers, the technicians and the managers; they were so interesting, kind, so beautiful in their freedoms, and so devoted to their bizarre craft that I saw them as more heroic than they ever realized, I think. I stayed with them for nearly a year, helping with the technical, the construction, the costumes, the actors, and the smallest of roles. Eventually, I became assistant director on a couple of plays. All the while I was on the mend; all the while my Stages friends were helping me become someone better able to deal with those strange, orange thoughts, helping me retract blame I had placed all around.
Last Saturday at the Gathering of Writers, I felt like I had a stronger connection to Landmarks than anyone around me. I lived there, nearly every night, often to 1 or 2 AM, and for many months working on a craft that was art in its purest form. A hundred people, and yet I felt...
My Stages colleagues are all dispersed. Of them, I have pictures, I have videos, I have directors notes, and I have detailed memories. Though I was among precious new friends, as the day shortened, the emptiness of Landmarks grew. I was missing my Stages family. I wanted to see their beautiful faces. I was missing their need for me.
I had to leave. I could not stay. On my way out, I observed my former stage. Floors polished and nails hammered in...new curtains...shiny light fixtures. A wall had been erected over the former tech booth where I used to sit and direct, where I pulled back the curtains and closed them for good. I wanted to see where I carved my initials among the dozens carved before me a hundred years ago. No entrance to the booth exists. I then looked for the gouges in the flooring near the stage stairs that I remembered used to be there. Gone.
I left with my writer friends, and I remember how the warmth of the day surprised me. Heather, Keith, Kim, and I chatted outside Landmarks for awhile, and I felt lucky to have them near, sharing our love for the art of writing. I did not want them to go.
When I got in my car, I knew that I was leaving something behind, but starting anew, one family of friends to another family of friends, one form of art to another form of art. I felt blessed to have this writing community, comforted to know that I will see my writing friends in a matter of days. Yes, I felt an anguish of loneliness, too, when I drove past Landmarks, past the side door where the Stages crew were allowed to enter. Lonely, not because my Stages friends were gone, but because I knew my love for them was pure and was still ongoing.
Lonely, but I was fine.