Friday, March 19, 2021

Twenty Years On

William Sidman
"The Dead Sparrow" (1890s)
The events of March 19, 2001 are so close in my memory that it is difficult to believe that everything else has happened since.

Who was I, twenty years ago? A 32 year-old man, not exactly young, certainly younger than this. I had no steady employment, had none for almost three years. Managed a theater project. I had no children.

Twenty years ago I smoked cigarettes, every day. I drank beer and wine, but small liquor. I watched television from tapes, got my news from papers. Agonized at length over what the critics said, not just about my work, but about everyone else’s work.

I hated critics. I used to care about critics.

My concerns were narrowly focused. I was selfish, and took joy in that selfishness in so much as it meant I could concentrate on the two most important people in my universe, my wife and me.

I thought of myself as a writer, but I did not write. I had written one produced play - I had written one play, and had it produced. I contributed small pieces to other shows. But I did not write. I kept journal entries. I wrote about me.

I had no experience with children. I knew no children. I was terrified of children.

My experiences in education were poor. I did not possess a twenty year history with one company, I had not visited scores of schools. I did not know how to create a lesson plan. I knew very few people with children.

I had little patience. I had little compassion. I was not kind to people. My interests were small, I wanted to reach outside of this but I did not know how.

I had an illusion of the future. I had no vision for the theater company I was shepherding, no artistic philosophy of which I was confident. I was blithely ignorant of my place in the larger society.

And I did not know how a child would be part of this. We were in our thirties. If we were going to have a child (only one child) this was the time to have it.

Why? I did not know. Why did I want a child? I did not know. How did I imagine a child to be part of all of this? I did not know.

Everything I think, everything I know, everything I want. Everything I am part of. Every emotion I have. Every expectation of every morning. My awareness, my understanding, my self, my love, my happiness, my hope, my belief in the future. Me. I was born, the person I have become, whoever he is, started on that day, the day I learned my child was dead.

"I Hate This (a play without the baby)" is available at Amazon as paperback or ebook.

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