Category Archives: Love

Some ideas about “The Last Five Years”

Drew and I went to see The Last Five Years at ACT in San Francisco. They did it as a concert, which I am now convinced is the way this show should always be done. I’ve seen I think 6 productions of The Last Five Years, and with the exception of this most recent one, they’ve all tried to stage every scene. And (I know I may be biased but) Drew’s version from college is the only one that accomplished staging it with any sort of panache.

If you don’t know the show, it’s almost entirely music. It’s the story of a five-year relationship between a man and a woman, only she tells her story going from the end of the relationship backwards, and he starts at the beginning and moves forward. The music is incredible, and even though the concept (love gained and lost) is simple, it’s well done.

Since they are almost never in each other’s stories, they are technically always in different spaces, even when sharing the stage. And it just makes the physicality difficult, especially later in the play. I think it is actually a lot cleaner to just put the actors onstage and let them sing in front of microphones, rather than worry about creating the visual world for the audience. We’ll get there on our own with just the actors and the music, I promise. We certainly did with just the talented actors and musicians at ACT.

But! I had two thoughts during this production that I found really interesting.

*Spoilers follow*

The first is that, from the beginning of the evening, I decided I was going to go through the play as Team Jamie. I am always on Cathy’s side, I always find her more sympathetic. So I wanted to really commit to going on his journey. And I did. I was right there with him until he cheats on her. And then all my sympathy goes out the window. So maybe there is a legit reason I’ve been Team Cathy all these years, and it’s not just because I like her songs better.

The second thing is just a conceptual idea. While watching this time, it occurred to me that they very specifically give you Jamie’s age at the beginning and end of the play: this five years spans his life from age 23 to 28. But Cathy’s age is never mentioned. I’ve always assumed she was the same age, but…what if she starts the play at age 30? So then: that’s why his mom doesn’t like her (it’s not just the fact that she’s not Jewish). It’s also why she feels so much pressure to succeed, and so much resentment when her 23-year-old boyfriend is succeeding and she’s not. She also mentions having kids a couple times, and I know that people can think about that at any age, but it becomes more poignant to me if she’s, you know, 33 and feeling pressure about it, while he’s 26 and it’s not on his mind. I’m not saying this is necessarily the way it’s written, but I think it would be a really interesting choice to make in a specific production of the show. It would add an interesting dimension.

All that aside, I still love this show as much as I did in college. And I’m so glad we went and saw it last weekend. I would tell you to go, but it was just a three-nights-only event, and it’s taken me too long to get around to saying, “Go see it.” My bad! I will burn you a copy of the original off-Bway cast recording to make up for it.

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Filed under Drew, Love, Music, Sentiment, Theatre

Genesis (a short story)

In the beginning, it’s awkward, as so many things are. You don’t know where you’re allowed to sit, where you’re expected to sleep, what there is to eat. You don’t even know what to call him. He seems to assume you know his name, and it apparently doesn’t occur to him to ask yours. Not that you would even know the answer.

He shows you around, touching you carefully as though you’re new-blown glass. He doesn’t seem to know what to do with you. (But you don’t know what to do with yourself.) He tries to make small talk with you, but it’s one-sided. You want to ask him about everything around you, but you don’t want to pester him. When you do ask him a question, he gives a long-winded answer that leaves you feeling…annoyed. If he knows more than I do, it’s because he’s older and more experienced, you think, not because he’s smarter.

Although…maybe he is smarter. You want to ask him what he thinks.

You’re perching carefully on a large mossy rock, watching the fish jump in the river, when he calls to you, “Eve!” For a moment you don’t move, and then you realize he’s talking to you, using a name you haven’t heard him use for any of the plants or animals he’s shown you. He calls again—“Eve?”—and you stand up tentatively and take a step toward him.

“Can you bring me some figs?” he asks, from where he’s stretched out on the grass. You look around, until he points to the correct tree. You gather a handful and bring them to him, then watch him pop each one into his mouth. He makes an irritating “mm…ah!” sound after each one, but doesn’t offer you any.

“Thanks, Eve,” he says as an afterthought. You’re not sure what the appropriate response is, so you just smile. Later, you think maybe you should have thanked him back?

As the sun starts going down, and a barely perceptible coolness settles over the garden, an untoward rumbling sounds comes from your midsection, followed by a vaguely uncomfortable feeling of emptiness. Your male companion apparently notices the noise, and he asks, “Are you hungry?”

“Hungry…” you say. “Yes, I think so.”

He seems confused. “Well, then eat something.” He gestures around you. “Eat whatever you like.”

Suddenly the choice seems too large for you. “Oh, I don’t even know what…” He takes your hand and leads you from tree to bush to vine, giving you the names again that he gave you that morning. “Mandarins…grapes…olives…dates…figs…” he says, and you repeat each one, determined this time to remember. At each stop he also picks a fruit and puts it in your mouth, so you can savor each different taste, and use the flavor to help remember which is which. After one complete pass through the garden, you’ve tasted dozens of morsels from his fingers, and no longer feel hungry.

Soon, it’s full dark, the only light coming from a high clear full moon. The birds have completely stopped singing. You hear a hooting noise from somewhere in the wilds of the garden, outside of your clearing. Your mind feels less sharp than it had in the daylight, and you have an urge to lie down. You look around for an appropriate place, but it seems that your male companion has claimed the biggest, softest stretch of grass. He’s on it now, propped on his elbows, legs sprawled out. He’s watching you.

“You can come lie down with me, if you want,” he says. You don’t want to hesitate and hurt his feelings, so you step carefully over to him and stretch out, using your arm as a pillow. For a moment, all is quiet, except for the myriad night noises that reach you, most from sources you can’t yet name, although the sound of the river is familiar.

You can hear him breathing shallowly.

You are simultaneously exhausted and alert. Today seemed so long and so full, and all you want is to be momentarily unaware of it again. You have lived a lifetime in twelve hours. You feel as if you could close your eyes and drift away, tethered to this garden but in a different place somehow.

At the same time, you are highly aware of him so close to you. He doesn’t seem tired and ready to drift off. But what could he possibly want from you? In the dark?

He shifts position and then you feel his hand on your stomach. You hold your breath, but he leaves it there, as if it’s an accident. Then he says quietly, “Do you think that you’re—that I’m—that we’re both here for a reason?”

“I don’t know why I’m here,” you say.

“Well, you’re here for me,” he says. “You’re here because I was lonely.”

“But I don’t even know your name,” you admit.

“I’m Adam,” he says, surprised. “Didn’t anyone tell you? I’m Adam. You’re Eve.” A pause, and then his hand slides higher up your stomach, and your muscles tense. “We belong together.”

“What are you doing?” you ask. He’s quiet for a moment.

“I’m not sure,” he says. “I just wanted to touch you. I felt like I should touch you. So I did. Is that all right?”

“I suppose so,” you say automatically. Then, “Actually no, I’d rather you didn’t right now.” When he doesn’t respond, you add, “I mean, I just learned your name.”

“I understand,” he says, and his hand is gone, replaced by the cool feeling of nighttime on your skin. Your initial sense of relief is replaced by longing.

You don’t sleep much that night. In the moonlight you can see Adam’s profile, as he snores quietly next to you. You think about his words: You’re here for me. We belong together. And if you can’t figure out why else you’re here, isn’t that as good a reason as any? You think of the animals he showed you today—they all come in pairs. A goose and a gander, a doe and a buck, a lion and a lioness. An Adam and an Eve?

As the sky is lightening, you finally fall asleep. You sleep lightly, not really dreaming. When you feel Adam get up, you’re fully awake again, but with a newfound sense of peace.

When you get up, he’s sitting cross-legged near the river, absent-mindedly plucking a handful at a time and sprinkling it into the water. As you watch, two ducks float into view, followed by a trio of ducklings. You feel a pleasant tug inside you at the sight of the small family.

You walk to Adam’s side and sit down. He smiles at you and pulls some more grass. You slide your hand into his free hand, and lace your fingers through his, and without a moment’s hesitation he squeezes back. You’re still not sure what the future holds, but for now, you feel content. You lay your head on his shoulder and you both watch the ducks until they’re gone.

 

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Filed under Beginnings, Fiction, Love, Writing

For Another Ten

Drew and I recently celebrated 10 years of dating. It was a couple weeks ago, so I’m a little behind here, but 10 years is significant enough that I’m giving myself a pass.

Here are some fun facts about when we got together back in 2005:

We were about to start rehearsals for Into the Woods, but we cast the show before Christmas break. So just for the record, I didn’t cast him because he was my boyfriend. I cast him because he was awesome.

Erin actually knew that we both liked each other at least a week before we admitted it to each other. She chose not to say anything because we had both told her in confidence. That’s some crazy loyalty there.

We were at a party where we discovered our mutual interest. This party took place in the house that we later moved into for my final year of school.

Incidentally, I wasn’t originally planning on going to that party. I only went because my friend Josh stood me up. It turned out he had an emergency appendectomy that night. Thanks, Josh’s burst appendix!

Even if I hadn’t gone to THAT party, I still think our dating was inevitable. We had been inching toward it for weeks. It was going to happen.

For instance, a few weeks earlier, we’d gone to the movies together to see The Phantom of the Opera. But I don’t think either of us knew whether or not it was a date. I mean, I was running late, which I would have tried not to do, obviously, if I knew it was a date. And I presume if it was a date, he would have picked me up, and maybe we wouldn’t have gone to a matinee.

We accidentally introduced our parents to each other after just a couple weeks. They just both happened to have come to this show we were both working on, on the same night. Oops!

The Last 5 Years came a little later, so it doesn’t really fit into my theme here, but I’m still inspired by the fact that the movie version is coming out today. It’s bringing back a lot of memories and feelings from those early years.

I have never in my life been more sure about any choice I’ve ever made. Then, now…always.

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Filed under Beginnings, Drew, Love, Memoir

Disney Project 2014: Frozen!!!

MOVIE: FROZEN

RELEASE YEAR: 2013

I HAVE TO WRITE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I AM SO EXCITED – I CANNOT BELIEVE – WE FINISHED OUR DISNEY PROJECT!

Ok that’s enough.

Although we watched Frozen about 60 times this year, we watched it one more special time on Christmas morning to finish out Disney Project 2014. It was just as good as always! I will always have a special place in my heart for Frozen and Elsa and Anna and Sven and Kristoff and Olaf and the trolls (not really the trolls) and For the First Time in Forever and Let It Go and the ending scene where Elsa says “You sacrificed yourself for me?” and Anna says “I love you” awwwwwww. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Celebrate Frozen and YAY FOR ACCOMPLISHING YEAR-LONG OBJECTIVES!

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Filed under Awesome, Children, Drew, Endings, Holidays, Love, Memoir, Movies, Sentiment

The First Meeting of JASP

This is a shout out to one of my besties. We’ve worked together for the last few years, and we’ve been through the ringer together. We even have a celebrity couple name: JASP. (It’s just our initials. No big deal.) We’ve technically only known each other for about 4 years, but here’s a fun fact about us.

Back when we were both still in college, 6 years before we officially met and became coworkers and cohorts, we attended the same production of Into the Woods at the theatre company we would eventually work for. November 30, 2005: we both sat in the Lucie Stern Theatre and watched it snow onstage after intermission. (As our Artistic Director says, “It all makes perfect sense when you realize it’s snowing in the second half.”)

Much has changed since 2005 – much has even changed since our official meeting in 2011. But I just wanted to say that I’m so happy I know you, Jonathan! #tbt to that time we both saw Into the Woods on the same date without knowing it!

(But we are way cooler now than we were back then.)

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(To be clear, these are both pictures from the cooler “now.”)

 

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Filed under Awesome, Friends, Love, Memoir, Theatre, Work

The Best 5 Years

Yesterday marked five years of wedded bliss with my best friend! (We are not celebrating in Gone Girl-style, although I’m not going to lie, I thought about it.)

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Five years is 1/6 of my lifetime. It doesn’t sound quite as impressive as saying that Drew and I have been together for almost 10 years, which is 1/3 of my lifetime, and encompasses perhaps the most interesting decade of my life. I’m so glad that for most of my “Omg, remember when this happened?” moments, he’s a part of that.

I love our team. When counting my blessings, I put this at the top of the list. I just feel very lucky.

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Filed under Awesome, Drew, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

2 Years Old: A Parenting Retrospective

Well, we made it to two years. As with every milestone so far, and I’m sure every milestone yet to come, Drew and I are baffled at where the last two years have gone. What happened to that bitty newborn? To the baby we used to have to prop up against things? To the toddler who had to trick or treat holding on to Drew’s hands because he couldn’t quite walk all by himself?

Instead of a baby, we now have this little roommate. He may be only three feet tall, but he’s powerful. He’s incessantly curious, constantly demanding, smiley, stubborn, energetic, pushy, inquisitive. In the course of minutes I can go from being out of my mind frustrated to out of my mind in love. Parenting is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and also the weirdest thing. If any of my friends treated me the way he sometimes treats me, I would definitely tell them off or get rid of them. But with him it usually just makes me laugh.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last couple years. Some things are just the things that probably any parent of a toddler learns: a reserve of patience, strength of will previously uncovered, a tolerance for someone else’s bodily fluids. Other things are interesting and more specific: Like, although I love my own, I don’t think I’m a “kid person” in general. I’ve also realized what a beautiful word “normal” is – who needs extraordinary? And this whole experience has made me love Drew more than ever every single day.

I know I will look back at this some day and shake my head. Silly me, I’ll think, two years was just the tip of the iceberg. Back then I could barely fathom the fact that B could climb into his own car seat, and now he’s driving (or off to college, or getting married, or having his own babies). But come on, future me, cut me a break. The last two years have been the longest and shortest years of my life. I know you understand.

One more thing: when we found out I was pregnant, almost 3 years ago, Drew started reading the Harry Potter books to me (and eventually to B). As B got older, the going got slower…because while I would definitely sit still for a chapter a night, a toddler doesn’t always have the same interests. We’ve been chipping away at the seventh book for over a year now, and three months ago we made the pledge to ourselves that we would finish by his birthday. Drew has been a total trouper about reading at night no matter how tired he is, and this weekend he really ramped it up. Yesterday he started reading over dinner, and then for the rest of the evening we sort of followed B around from bedroom to living room to bath, reading to him. YOU GUYS. WE FINISHED THE ENTIRE HARRY POTTER SERIES LAST NIGHT, Sunday, September 28, 2014. (And that epilogue is still just as bad as I remember it.)

So today we celebrate B’s second birthday, with balloons and a family dinner and a homemade ice cream cake (a la Frozen, of course). Since every day brings a new lesson, a new joke, a new challenge, I can’t wait to see what this one has in store! Happy second birthday, my love! May you have many, many more!

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Filed under Awesome, Children, Dreams, Drew, Holidays, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment