21 March 2007

Reunity


Oh 'Blog, you knew I couldn't stay away from you, didn't you? You've known all along, and yet you allowed me to play out my delusions, my fickle little fantasies of not needing you with an intense, feral desire. Only you hear me, 'Blog. Only you . . . understand me.

My hair is quite long now, and it isn't getting cut any sooner than the end of April, when A Lie of the Mind closes. (The director wants that "Remington Steele" look.) As with most issues concerning my self appearance, I vacillate wildly in my feelings about it. I have good hair. Shit man, I have great hair. I'll say it. It's soft and fine, without being too thin--it has just that right amount of body, so I don't really have to do anything with it if I don't feel so compelled . . . and I rarely do. In fact, the only complaint I ever have about my hair is that it tends to make me difficult to recognize from situation to situation. It's a proven fact: My hair length and style changes my face significantly, so much so that people I've worked with more than once will sometimes not place me when I see them again--say a month later--if I got a haircut.

{I'm really worried about Jeff...he just keeps talking about his hair...I think he might be self-obsessing a little bit...then again, it is a freaking blog...I mean: " 'blog "...}

One thing having long hair makes me think about is the past. The reason for this is two-fold. Fold one is that hair is a record of cells gone by, so when I wear it long, I occasionally think about what was going on in my life when the cells at the tips of my current hair were dying and being expelled from the pores atop ma' noggin. At this length, I'd have to guess it was when I was doing Operation Opera (actors measure their lives in shows [actors: holla if ya hear me]), maybe propagating a flock of follicle fronds whilst singing a Queen cover, or enjoying a fire in David Zarko's fireplace.

Fold two is a memory of the time in my life when my hair was longest. Said time was the end of my Freshman year of college; a strange time. It wasn't particularly memorable in the moment, but in retrospect, about a million things were going on beneath the surface that would later sprout up and change my life for good. (Like hair, dare I suggest? [Too much there? {That was too much, wasn't it?}{Shit.}]) I won't (can't) get into all of that here, at least now, but it shaped me as an actor, a person and--more specifically--as a newly minted adult.

{...he's claiming a lot of self understanding now...what's he selling here?...at least he isn't talking about his damn hair anymore...}

I was a little miffed about not having permission to cut my hair for an occasion I attended this past weekend. That occasion was a sort of reunion, at least on my part.

I detest reunions, sort of for the same reasons I resent New Year's and Valentine's Days; it's an occasion where everyone is trying so damn hard to have a good time. And not just a good time, but the right kind of good time. That judgment, hanging about like smog, affects me, perhaps more than it should. And at reunions it's freaking LA smog, because everyone is taking stock of their lives (read: judging themselves against others). I favor a quote which refers to that notion, today's finsky quote:
"I know everybody's coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone."
This reunion was actually a wedding. The girl I moved to New York to be with got married on St. Patrick's Day, and I was there. Don't worry: I was invited. Why was I invited? I can't say I really know. The break-up was fairly amicable, at least inasmuch as it could be with two very hurt people with rather little life experience involved, and I've made a point of staying friendly with her and her family. I still consider it pretty unconventional to invite the big ex to one's wedding, but ultimately I decided that it was their decision, and I wanted to go. I wanted to bear witness to the marriage of two people who love each other, and I wanted the brief reunion with people who had been my loved ones.

I guess I have to admit I'm taking stock of my life a bit, too.

{...oh God...here he goes...this is where it gets ridiculous with embarrassing clothes-rending and gnashing of emotional teeth...where's my iPod...I need to block out the sounds of his self-pity...}

It was amazing. Really amazing. Someday I'll devote a 'blog entry just to the adventure of getting to the church on time, but for now the amazement is from how welcomed I was, and how full of love the experience was for me. I was busy trying so hard to be as unobtrusive as possible, particularly at the reception, yet people sought me out, and everyone I caught up with I also shared a memory or two with that I couldn't have remembered without seeing him or her again. Sure, there were some more or less awkward moments for me (like when the Maid of Honor mentioned in her speech that my ex hadn't been seeing anyone while they were on tour together...suppressing laughter at that point was one of the more Oscar-worthy moments of my life to date) but all that was trumped by getting a rare and beautiful moment in life to remember someone I used to be, and say goodbye to him with fondness.

I don't know if I'm the only one who feels this way,

{...oh God, here he goes again...}

but I often wonder

{..."he wonders while he wanders"...dear Lord, save us from these musings...}

if I haven't

{...oh, hasn't he?...and what horror will--

Hey. Hey, Super Ego.

--me?

Yeah, you. Knock it off. You're being kind of a d&%k.

I'm doing no such

You're being kind of a d&%k. And I don't appreciate it. Now knock it off, before I'm forced to start following the "The Secret" program just to spite you.

{}


Anyway. I often wonder if I haven't lived so much, changed so much, that I've lost track of more versions of myself than I could possibly keep track of. Not that I essentially change, necessarily, and maybe this is just a matter of perspective. Some probably see their lives as fully integrated journeys of evolution. I can see it that way, too, but most of the time I look back and feel a great distance from my past thoughts and actions. It's a little bit like most plays I memorize. I can do a full production of a play, spend months learning and then performing lines, yet when I read the play a year later it seems alien to me. Then again, I know some words by heart that I may never lose, for no special reason. I mean, do you ever wonder if you're still who you've been before? Is this some kind of demented syndrome hatched from the habits of an actor, always moving from role to role, or is it more common than that? What do you think of yourself as you've been; and, when you think of him or her, do you feel better about that person, or the one you are now?

I was sought out recently by a fellow journeyman on The Third Life(tm), and an alumna of my college, one Jason Carden. Jason has been on the west coast for years, and I hadn't seen nor heard hide nor hair of him since he graduated, a year before me. We did two shows together in college, The Three Musketeers and Stand-Up Tragedy, and in the latter we sort of co-starred. About a month ago (whilst I was still in California: see 2/19/07), Jason emailed me to see if we could catch up now that he was in New York for a while. I finally coordinated that with him tonight (a real miracle, given our combined schedules) and we met for dinner.

Once again I had the experience of recalling memories I never could have without the other person present. I was grateful that we didn't have to worry about one of those horrible one-ups-man-ship conversations actors can so easily fall into when catching up with one another, and before long we were confessing how much we hate the idea of reunions. Yet there was nothing awkward, or judgmental there. What there was, was a kind of understanding about the people we had been when we both had Richmond zip codes, and a curiosity about who we were now. And that was welcome, because not having to be explicit about who you are or where you come from is a relief as long as, at the same moment, a mutual respect is implicit.

Two struggling actors re-met in a restaurant today, and by the end of their conversation they were on the subject of Batman. Icing on the cake.

Ice was all over the street today. After a little period of promising warmth, March has whipped the city with frigid weather again. As Jason and I started to chat on the way to the restaurant, he mentioned that he had his hair cut short just the other day, and now he was really regretting the loss of insulation. I had to smile, feeling warm and oddly young.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can not one of your friends been to Michigan [and of course{is saying of course really needed here(I say yes)} by Michigan I am building towards gaining a five spot] yet? Grosse Pointe Blank boyee!!
Also, I need lessons on proper use of brackets. Your skills never fail to impress. I confused myself writing that sh-ty little sentence and you...

Jeff Wills said...

First off: Happy birthday, Anonymous!

Second, the brackets thing is totally bogarted from my proofreading sideline. It goes colon: (, then bracket: [, then weird squiggly thing: {. If one has to go deeper into a parenthetical than that,
a. One should try writing two different articles, and
b. One may need psychiatric evaluation.
But you can double up, so within a {} set you can use (()), then [[]], etc.

It's fun, AND educational!

Anonymous said...

just a little something from master Crosby circa 1969/1970
Almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It's gettin kinda long
I coulda said it wasn't in my way
But I didn't and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
Cause I feel like
I owe it to someone

Must be because I had the flu' for Christmas
And I'm not feeling up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like looking at my mirror and seeing a police car
But I'm not giving in an inch to fear
Cause I missed myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone

When I finally get myself together
I'm going to get down in that sunny southern weather
And I find a place inside to laugh
Separate the wheat from the chaff
I feel like I owe it to someone

Jeff Wills said...

That's it exactly.