Last Sunday was the closing day for The Gospel At Colonus. It was a week of temporary closures. On Friday, I closed up my desktop at USC for a two week vacation, and after Sunday’s “17th/final?” performance of Colonus, I closed up my prompt book and put it to the side for a while.
Closing a show or project is always emotional. After one has spent 8 plus weeks getting to know the cast and crew, weathered the road weariness of rehearsing and teching and performing a high octane production, anything would be a let down. I was disappointed, too, that I was unable to join the cast and crew for the final party, due to other obligations.
Oedipus says to Antigone, “Child, if you can find a resting place;” I am seeking a resting place just for a few weeks. A place where I can restore myself for the upcoming semester and whatever the future holds for Colonus. The future, I’m told, includes a short remount of the play in September, with three show weekends for three weeks after re-opening. Count me in, I say. I just need to figure out what that looks like on the USC side and how to carve out some home hours with my beautiful husband.
For now, the resting place he and I have chosen is South Lake Tahoe, on the Nevada side, where we rented a house that can hold 9 and invited family to join us here. Life being what it is, complex and unpredictable, three of the 9 haven’t been able to join us, so we’re cocooned with 4 in the house, and our son, Chris and his girlfriend, Whitney, who live in Tahoe. It’s been very low key, just what the doctor ordered; lots of conversation, and play with the youngest member of the family, Saoirse, who is 3. We have enough cooks in the kitchen to make it balletic enough to constitute productive exercise, and good things have come out of there at every meal.
Yesterday, the “girls” took a hike to the beach, piling our hot bodies into the car and driving to a nearby Beach, walking in from the parking lot about 30 minutes, then back out. S got carried by her mom a lot, and with the 6250 ft. altitude, I was a little jealous of her ability to run and then be carried. We left Chris at the house with Jimmie and they solved the problems of the world on the front porch while we discussed important issues of pregnancy and motherhood while we crushed sage flowers between our fingers and pressed them to our noses. A stand of aspen trees rustled and beckoned to us, and we found a little brook beneath the heavily tatted tree trunks. Tree trunks, tatted with the insouciant knife blades of insouciant youths, looking to make a mark, testify about their undying love, or to just mark their presence in that shady glade steps from the main bike and hiking path. I turned to watch as S bravely walked through the knee high sage bushes, crinkling her eyes to avoid getting swatted with the blades of the bush. Whitney and I dropped sticks in the stream to race them. She won.
Saoirse is one extraordinary child. With their own child on her way into their lives, this week, Chris and Whitney have been attentive to Saoirse’s needs. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying as a parent than to see one’s child become a parent; to watch as the gentler side of the once rough and tumble boy be exhibited in a heartfelt reading of “Where the Wild Things Are” to Saoirse. Children force us to be present. Children speak uncanny truths with no artifice.
Yesterday, I was in the kitchen making something, when Saoirse said to Jimmie,
You will be young again after you are old.
I turned to shift my startled gaze to Jimmie, at the table, whose serene, unruffled response was,
How old, four?
Together, Saoirse and Jimmie laughed. Hot tears threatened to come, and I turned to find Saoirse’s mom, Jen, standing beside me. The profundity of her remark hit me like an angry slap. I scurried out of the kitchen to find a kleenex.
You will be young again after you are old.
Later in the afternoon, S wisely intoned to Jimmie,
You are old but you are young, too.
So we are practicing being young again this week, in the cool breezes that waft off the lake and up over the busy roadway to our rental porch. Saoirse and Jimmie and Jen and I sat there this afternoon listening to the ever present traffic, as we peered through the power lines at the tiny wedge of visible water. Saoirse said,
I love the lake. (no pause) I like the trucks, too.
It has been quite a week. Not much resting, mind you, but an amazing week of time with family. Last night we went to watch Chris play adult hockey at the rink where he works. The day before, we had stopped by to see the rink. It seems so right that after all those years of playing hockey he has come full circle to teach the next generation the art of the game.
And as we all stand on the shore of parent and grandparenthood, it seems right to take a moment to savor it all, to be present in the moment and to embrace both the beach and the trucks in our lives.