Years ago, while doing a play in NYC, I remember lying on the cot I was sleeping on in my friend Kurt's apartment in the East Village and thinking, "Man, this is really hard..." Don't get me wrong, I loved the struggle, sometimes in life we are asked to 'endure' certain decisions we make to get to another place. Funk and Wagnal's definition of endure: The ability to remain. I've always loved this definition. While taking the small amounts of the money that I had, (much of this credit cards) and investing it in wood, luan, paint, screws, and various other materials to build out a theatre space in an apartment to do this play, it appeared to me that I was blinded by my vision. 'Blinded and appeared' are interesting word choices for this paradox, I know, but this passion for what I had to do was unstoppable. I found myself breaking down any practical thought as to how I would live, the vision of the play became everything. During this period, my hip had already deteriorated to the point of living with chronic pain each day, exacerbating an already grueling process. Because the 'apartment' theatre was on the fifth floor of a walk-up, everything had to be carried to the roof, (where the construction took place) and then taken back down a floor during the assembly. The play, 'The Fish Must Die' was the one and only 'farce' I'd ever written, and it did become a 'must see' in the apartment theatre, Theatre 4S. In our possessed state of passion, we had unknowingly created a minor 'cult' theatre space, (partly because it was illegal) and partly because the play and production had a raw feel to it, and there were only sixteen seats in the space, so it wasn't hard to create a demand for 'seats'. Each night, after the show, I would lay down once again in the theatre that had to be 'turned back into an apartment space'. (that was also part of the vision. We also had delusions of putting our 'build out your apartment into a theatre' business into motion, for a thousand bucks, you too could have your apartment turned into a theatre), and I would think again, "Man, this is REALLY hard..." The irony is it might have taken off, except the NY Times did a story on the theatre, (with a full picture of Kurt and his dog, Zoe) and the owner of the building read the article and evicted Kurt. I returned to Phoenix afterwards, finding it difficult to explain this 'craziness' that possessed me. Thus began a ten year period of teaching theatre to high school students, (which I really loved) and probably the most stable part of my life.
I relate this story, because although Austin is not the same trial, each place and time has its own set of circumstances to be 'endured'. It may at times seem like a dream to the outside world, (and in many ways it is) but the work is hard and lonely. Still, the adventure is another chapter in this 'Bohemian Cowboy' evolution, and the work is satisfying. As I get up and six-thirty in the morning to take 'Baby' for yet another walk, I think to myself, is there an end to the worry that goes with this territory? Now is a time when I need to be watchful, as not to fall into any kind of self-destructive behavior, which is another reason for writing the book. The last three evenings, I've been re-reading Hemingway's, 'The Sun Also Rises'. (I abandoned 'Remembrance of Things Past', by Proust, it made me claustrophobic). One thing I always notice about Hemingway's writing is his mastery of dialogue in his books. The dialogue of the characters drives his writing, which I really like. I always thought if you took many of his short stories and removed the prose, it would be quite easy to create a play.
This is how the book begins, as the play begins.
"My father has vanished into the desert,
I cannot find my father's boots or his felt hat.
I cannot find his western shirt of the wrangler jeans he wore,
I cannot find his bear claw belt buckle or his soft white handkerchief.
My father is still in the desert."
On the seventh day after my Father had disappeared into the desert, I was being prepped for surgery to have my hip replaced. For six years, I had tried to ignore the stabbing pain in my side, choosing instead to hike the peaks in Phoenix, Arizona, five times a week, believing that eventually, this act of discipline would lead to its complete healing. I had no way of knowing that my hip had always had a tiny deformity from birth, and there would be no 'quick fix'. After moving through a series of doctor's and consultations, I finally accepted what I had been denying for years, and found a surgeon that could operate on me the first part of December, of 2005...
What do you think?