I don’t think I got it.
I always believed I had options and choices – have I written about this before? I believed all along that I was in charge of my own experiences – well, once I was an adult I was in charge. I laid low as a kid – tried to stay out of the line of fire. Waiting to be on my own – to burst forth. To have those options and choices. And that’s what I did…education – friends – adventures – marriage – motherhood – amazing work – travel – creativity. And when it got really hard, I set limits, I drew lines, I made choices, I made changes. I took action, I practiced acceptance, I defined boundaries. I was happy – no regrets. I looked forward – I moved forward – with purpose. I navigated forward – no regrets – ownership and forgiveness served me well. I moved forward.
Then I looked back – for a split second – at how my marriage ended – the failure and pain – I felt it. And as George said over and over: all loss is connected. So in my brief moment of looking back, I looked even further back and I reconnected with George…It was interesting a little…And then more…And then after a while everything brightened – a lot. Occasionally too bright but overall the lighting was perfect for me.
George really got me – got me more than anyone I have ever known – and loved me for who I really am – well, who I really was. All my quirks and passions and energy and sadness and more. Now I am not much of anyone – I’m tired, sad, empty, aching.
George and I fed each others passions. Loving beauty. Caring deeply. Loving each other. Playful. Sweet. Rough. Comfortable. Trusting. Sharing. No stopping – let’s go! Now I am wandering in a fog – lost. Sad. Not moving forward. Not at all. I’m stuck – tired, sad, empty, aching.
George and I both loved art – music, museums, poetry, theater. Theater was the favorite for both of us. We saw so much amazing theater together. We didn’t need to talk about it too much – we felt it a lot of the time. if we talked about it, we talked about the emotion; about the experience – with wonderment. George appreciated tremendously that I felt it with him. He loved big.
My absolute favorite theater experience that we had together was Sleep No More* (I’ve inserted an explanation of this theater experience below) – which we “saw” just before George moved to Boston – two years before he died. I wanted to see it again.
This is an experience not to be missed. We had 11:30 PM tickets. We stood in the line, hung out in the bar, donned the requisite mask, got on an elevator with a bunch of other people in masks, with a guide – who promptly separated us, pushing one of us off the elevator on one floor and the other on another. It was George who exited the elevator first. I panicked for a moment – alone in dark space with a lot of people in the same masks…a very anonymous experience…And then I got into being on my own in one mystical set after another. I wandered through an insane asylum, I sat quietly in a cemetery in a simulated fog – someone sat next to me – I don’t know who. They sat close. Then left. I calmed myself down in that cemetery – I let go of my apprehension. Then I saw a birth, bathing, dancing, sex, passion, a candy store…moving slowly, sometimes running, at times herded, immersed. I stopped thinking about George – I was in the moment. It was intense. And then suddenly I found George somewhere in the 5 huge floors of a warehouse with hundreds of other people – I ran into him – I recognized his body language. We held hands and took each other to different scenes we had most loved. We ended up in a fight scene in a pool hall. We revisited the birth with the witches…We stayed for hours and when we left we had breakfast in Brooklyn at 4 AM.
But I could not get George to go back to experience Sleep No More a second time. I tried – more than once. I was obsessed. I knew it would be different each time. George had loved it too – but he just said no – no. No explanation – and curiously I just stopped asking.
Now, occasionally when I get into an deep state of relaxation at yoga, I am wandering in the fog of Sleep No More – it took me a while to recognize it – I am wandering alone…I am looking for George – Sometimes I find him and we hold hands or follow each other, wandering through the fog together. Just like at Sleep No More. Sometimes it is more like reality and I don’t find him – either way my tears flow…
Did he not want to go back because he knew this is how it would go – he would get off the elevator first – and I would panic? He tried to tell me he thought I would be ok if he died first. He talked about us dying a lot – much of his life had been about dying. Maybe he meant I would be ok like when we went to Sleep No More…
Only in this version of Sleep No More I am still panicking – 8 months later. I am wandering alone in the fog – I catch myself looking for George – and then I know I won’t find him – I will wander in the fog – alone…Not looking ahead…not moving forward…
*From Wikipedia: Sleep No More is the most recent incarnation of an immersive, site-specific, interactive work of theatre created by British theatre company Punchdrunk, based on Punchdrunk’s original 2003 London production, their 2009 collaboration with Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, and William Shakespeare‘s Macbeth…Sleep No More is set in a building with five floors of theatrical action, putatively called the McKittrick Hotel, though with many rooms and features not normally associated with hotels, including those which resemble an antiquated lunatic asylum, doctor’s offices, children’s bedrooms, a cemetery, indoor courtyards, shops, a padded cell, a ballroom,taxidermist‘s menageries, and so on. The actors and their environment all adopt the dress, decor, and aesthetic style of the early 20th century, inspired by the shadowy and anxious atmosphere of film noir. The production “leads its audience on a merry, macabre chase up and down stairs, and through minimally illuminated, furniture-cluttered rooms and corridors.” Audience members begin their journey in a fully operational lounge, the Manderley Bar, from which they enter an elevator that transports them to the major floors of the “hotel.”