Visiting and Revisiting
I didn’t catch on to the 10-things post circle, but I see that Jessica’s running another round, so I’m coming in on this one.
This is my second blog – the first began as a means of describing shows I was seeing at the Prague Fringe Festival in 2009. Sometimes I write about theater and performance or if I’m producing an arts event like Motionary Comics, and recently it’s been a lot about writing. Last year at this time, my partner Andy and I had just cancelled our second performance set of The Heart of a Dog and I was going up to Minneapolis to visit a friend with brain cancer. So I was doing a lot of writing about slow grief. This post captures a lot of the activity without having some of the harrowing details that other posts do.
Your Lips Are Flapping, But You’re Not Making Any Noise
Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of my brother’s death, and every year we mark the occasion with homemade tacos. My dad gets curry on his anniversary. Such is the luck of the draw and whims of family.
My mother looked a little beaten up yesterday from when she picked me up at the airport until bed. She told me that the day is hard, every year. She didn’t make a big deal of it – no rending of clothes, ashes on head, nothing dramatic. She just seemed a bit tired and fragile.
At dinner, my sister asked me if I was disappointed not to be a part of the Minnesota Fringe that’s going on right now. The vehemence of my “very much,” seemed to surprise her a bit.
The words are just information. I miss you. I’m upset. I love you. I care. They’re supported not just by everyday actions – a phone call, punching the wall, flowers – but by the conviction with which we perform our words. My mother doesn’t perform her grief over my brother’s death. I don’t perform my disappointment over The Heart of a Dog being done and not performing here. If we didn’t perform and denied our emotions, you’d say we were in denial. But we acknowledge, just don’t make a big deal.
So how do you know how big a deal it is? And how inappropriate is how big? The performance needs to be proportionate to the scale – somehow.
My mother did her dissertation research comparing widowhood between caucasian, Jewish, and African=American women. The period of mourning was a topic that arose in the course of her work. What used to be “wear black and be officially in mourning for a year” for the white community has become, after a year, “don’t you think you should move on with your life?”
So here’s a question. If performance makes such a big deal in our face to face communication, what is filling that gap when we’re reading these words and there’s no one to perform?