Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come (2.2) CAESAR

I reviewed a production of Sarah Ruhl’s EURYDICE on Friday night for STAGE Magazine. West Philadelphia’s Curio Theatre Company is producing it—if you’re in the area, by all means check it out. It’s a wonderful production.

It is the third version I have seen of Ms. Ruhl’s imaginative reinvention of the Orpheus myth. The play tells the tragic love story from Eurydice’s point of view, inventing a father that draws her to the Underworld. The viewer is led to believe that Eurydice chooses to stay in the Underworld, to remain a child in her father’s care rather than grow up and be a wife.

Hey—I get it. Many are the days I want to turn in my grown-up card. It’s too damned hard sometimes; it would be great to go back to those carefree times when someone else made all the big decisions and paid all the bills. We didn’t appreciate how good we had it. Someone did the laundry, bought the food, cooked the meals. There was television and lights and heat—and we had no idea it took money to have those things at our fingertips. We picked up the phone, called whomever we wanted, and talked for ages with no thought as to what it was going to cost. Someone got us to and from school, etc., but did we ever once worry about the cost of gas, wear and tear on the car? Or insurance rates? And when we achieved the freedom known as a driver’s license, most of us still had someone else taking care of all those pesky details.

Even the roofs over our heads—we didn’t have a clue what was involved in purchasing that roof, or the multitude of things involved in maintaining it and the walls holding it up. Yeah—some of us were given chores like lawn mowing and dish washing, but that’s a drop in the bucket of all that is involved in running the business known as “family/home.”

Add to that the psychological cost of sustaining a relationship and raising children! You have no effing clue until you’re deep in the throes of it yourself—and most of us still don’t even then. As a parent you have to be a nurturer, a guidance counselor, a behavioral therapist…. The list is endless. And if you want to be a good partner, a lot of those roles come into play there too.

We were also blissfully ignorant of what it means to have a job. To give your time and energy for someone else’s enrichment for 40 hours a week. In some cases, to feel like you’ve sold your soul in order to just barely keep your financial head above water. Let’s face it, very few of us spend our workdays doing something we truly love—those lucky bastards are few and far between. For the rest of us, it’s a mind-numbing and exhausting slog so we can turn around and shell it out for the above named necessities.

Why the hell were we in such a hurry to be adults?

Okay, my kids are grown up and on their own now; it should be easier for me, right? Yeah—not so much.

I still have all of the expenses, and as a renter, I don’t get any tax breaks. It’s a bitch. In this economy, I should be grateful I have a job, I know. But salaries have been stagnant and opportunities for advancement few and far between. And I know I’m running into ageism—I can’t prove it, but I feel it. I want to be happy in my work—I HAVE NO RETIREMENT PLAN, SO I’M GONNA BE AT THIS FOR A LONG TIME. I want to be more financially stable… and I’ll tell you why:

The most recent wrinkle in all of this is having my mom living with me. Don’t get me wrong—I love her dearly and she is a hoot to live with. We are getting along quite well and the partnership has been mutually beneficial in a number of ways.

She will be 89 this coming New Year’s Eve and sometimes I think she’s in better shape than I am. Her mental faculties are sharp as a tack (okay—sometimes she can’t find a word, but who among us doesn’t have that problem occasionally…), and she’s pretty frickin’ spry. She actually busted a samba move the other night during “Dancing with The Stars.”

But I worry—I’m Irish, I can’t help it.

She is a night owl. So when I wake up during the night and see lights still on, I worry that something’s happened to her and that’s why they’re still on. Most nights I refrain from going out to the living room to check ‘cause I don’t want to scare her. I’ve done some secret reconnaissance missions on occasion though.

Every morning before I go to work, I check on her as she sleeps. She tends to lie exceedingly still as she slumbers, so sometimes I have to watch for several minutes to make sure all is well. I’ve come thisclose to putting a mirror under her nose. On workdays, she unlocks the apartment door for me so when I get home I don’t have to fumble with keys. Once in awhile, she gets caught up in her computer stuff and forgets. I try the door when I arrive home and panic if it’s locked—instantly worried something’s wrong inside.

I can’t let her know any of this—she’d be hurt I think. But it’s there now—the idea that the woman I have always thought of as invincible is in the twilight of her life. And I don’t like the thought.

So, yeah, I get Eurydice’s reluctance to growing up—who can blame her. Adulthood’s a bitch.

STAGE Magazine

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