Monday, October 05, 2009

I Talk to Dead People

Maybe this isn't unusual. Maybe this is how a lot of people cope. I don't know. I've lost a lot of people over time, but this is new.

We're loading in tonight for the next show I'm working on at my theater. I'm not what you would call a handy person. I'm good with a paintbrush and so far I haven't permanently injured anyone with any of the power tools. I maintain that it is only a matter of time.

So tonight I've got a project to complete and I cannot complete this project with the use of the staple gun. I root around in the tool closet in the back of the theater. Find what I think is a staple gun. Locate staples. Try to load them into the gun. They fall out. I try again. Same result. I look at the fine print on the side of said gun. It says, "Load nails here." Ok. Wrong tool.

I go back. Find another thing that looks like a staple gun to me. Actually locate the word "staple" somewhere on it. Satisfied I have the right tool, attempt to find the place that the staples go in. After about five minutes of struggling and pulling at different bits of metal and trying to pop SOME PART of this thing open I am FED UP. I don't know a damn thing about any of this. I cannot remember this ever being so hard. I have never been so frustrated at the theater before and I OWN A STAPLE GUN AT HOME that I know how to use. I am beside myself.

Then it hits me. Standing in the tool closet, away from the 20 other cast and crew members who are noisily painting and drilling and sawing out on the stage I have a sudden moment of clarity. At set calls, I would come to Allan. I would hold the offending power tool or doohickey out to him and say, "Make it do." He would stop whatever he was doing and come and set up the tool, walk me through how to use it, pat me on the head and go back to what he had been doing. Eventually we got to where there were no words. I would hold it out and frown, he would smile because he liked being needed. He would walk through the steps and hand it back. I'd lean against him for a moment in a no-armed sort of hug. And work would begin again. A cooperative ballet as we built. He who knew everything, I who knew nothing. We had a rhythm when we worked together.

And tonight I stood in that tool shed and felt so lost. My partner is gone. I stared at the tools, tears rolling down my face, and just started talking to him... something I do a lot these days.

What will I do without you?

How will this ever feel right again?

Do you know how hard this is?

Are you here? Are you gone?

Do you know how much I love you?

I need you here. I need you with me.

I can't make this fucking staple thing work.

I'm useless without you.

God I miss you.


There's another set going up. Another set he wasn't here to help build. Another set none of them were here to help build. And it isn't the same. And sometimes it's so damn hard. The theater is my home. It's where my heart lives. It's where my friends died. It's where I talk to them. It's where I'm trying to heal.

I found someone to help me. I finished my project. I'm going back tomorrow to touch it up and then we begin dress rehearsal.

The shows will open. The work will get done. I will heal.

It would be faster if he were here, though.
He knew how to fix anything.