The other day, I visited Mason and Lillian Lyman, a family I was very close to when I was growing up in Escalante and Boulder. The father, Dale Lyman, had just died and I didn't make it to the funeral. (found out the day of.) Of course, All of the sons, (there are four of them) were the 'bad' boys in town, but still, very good natured, its just those boys were doomed to be outlaws. Mason just finished 9 months in prison, for parole violation after another long stretch in jail. Stacy, his older brother, (and one of my buddies) is doing hard time in North Carolina. Lillian told me that Stacy is on kidney dialysis three days a week in prison, and will probably not make his six year sentence. As I looked at Mason and Lillian, sitting around the tables, my mind started riffing on all the memories I had with 'these boys'. We drove the highways and back roads as fast as we could, consuming all the beer, whiskey, pot, acid, and speed that we could, believing that we would either die or live forever. Lillian told me the story of the FBI and the SWAT team who came into her house with weapons drawn, firing them in her small, modest, Escalante home. A man named Two Tall Dave was shot in the melee, so hard to believe this happened in a house I had spent so many hours in. I had just been reading the story of Jesse and Frank James in a 'Gunfighter' book, and was struck by the similarity, even though Jesse's mother was hit with a grenade that blew off her arm. Its so sad to see a family so torn asunder by law enforcement, which happens frequently these days. Mason seemed glad to see me, and seemed eager to go fishing with me if I would agree to be seen with him in my truck. I told him I would be glad to be seen with him anywhere. There was a look of hope in his eye. We shared so many memories, so many wild trips and so much laughter. And yes, its true, there were times when we looked at each other and wondered whether we would live through the night. I don't know how either of us survived. I had to find Jesus to stay in this world, and he found, I guess, his genes, the tough Lymans, no way to kill them, constitution like alligator skin.
Tonight, I taught my acting class, Shakespeare monologues, topping it off with my mother's play, 'Happy Hello, Sad Goodbye'. It was a great combination, the old mixed with the new. I'm always surprised that I know so much about Shakespeare, it has taken most of my life to figure out his plays, and as I finally did, it was a spiritual experience. I now understand why he is considered the genius he is--from witchcraft to forbidden love, he had a vast understanding of just about every theme we like to call 'universal', and still, underlined with such an understanding of the human condition. I remember feeling so stupid going to his plays, struggling to understand them, going again, and again. And then life happens. You go to one of his plays, and the spirit of a dead father appears to Hamlet, and there you are, caught up in all of it, crying at the parts that touch you like only God can. I'll never forget, waking up and hearing the voice of my own father's ghost, and making the connection to Hamlet, after I had seen three productions of it in the year after my father disappeared. How could someone write a play that had this kind of depth? I equated it to Christ, and the genius of christianity, Shakespeare had this same genius, this same capacity to understand human beings. Perhaps Shakespeare is my savior. I recently went over the Cedar City and saw Henry the Fifth. I was amazed by this play, this history, this connection to God. The history of it suggests that God rallied the English to defeat the French while outnumbered 100 to 1. Its pretty remarkable, and when you see the play, and listen to the dialogue between the players, it suggests a miraculous intervention. Even if the history of it was not true, how can one write a play that brings these ideas across in such a powerful way?
I'm a little depressed today, maybe because I have that creeping sense that I've somehow wasted some of my summer here in Boulder. Enough has happened that I could write a book, but its still somehow not enough. I better get to work on the script, San Francisco may bring me some luck, I'll need it, I'm down to sixty dollars in the bank account.