Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Things you expect to lose in the fire.

signature-roomTuesday night’s TML rehearsal was unusually short, as we’d rolled a two for the past weekend and therefore only needed to rehearse that many new plays. With the night still young, for once, John, Tim, Caitlin, Megan, and I drove downtown to the Signature Lounge, located on the top floor of the John Hancock Building, and then wandered down the Magnificent Mile to the Wrigley Building and the Michigan Avenue bridge. The ghost of the sixty-degree day still lingered; the air had a crisp coolness, composed of beaded crystal curtains that parted gently against the skin.

It was a uniquely Chicago evening, spent staring around at the grids of amber light and twisting traffic on Lake Shore Drive, spent with a handful of fringe theater adults tapping at the plastic behemoth statues of American Gothic, ignoring crosswalk signals, asking each other random questions about the survivability of a jump into the river from that height.

A couple of months ago, Jessica posited to me the following hypothetical dilemma:

“You come home to find your home on fire. Your wife and the pets have already made it out safely. You have time to grab one item and get it out. What do you grab?”

It’s not really a question about the material possession you most value, it’s about the material possession you consider most irreplaceable.

So gone in the imaginary fire are the CD collection, the DVDs, the books. Gone is the computer; almost everything I’ve written exists in some other form elsewhere. Gone are the wedding albums and related regalia–I rarely look at these anymore, and they almost always pale in comparison to my actual memories of the event. Favorite T-shirts. The electric bass I keep meaning to pick up again. Ashes and kindling, all of it.

I decided to save the painting resting on our mantle, one of the works Marni Keenan created for Vox Pandora, which not only holds great personal meaning for me but which also fits the bill of something I would not be likely to have again, should it be destroyed.

One of the other hypothetical games I’ll play with myself involves me suddenly having a million dollars, tax-free. And I pay off debt, get a decent-sized home in a quiet neighborhood, get a nice, dependable Japanese hybrid, help pay for my siblings’ education, help pay off my parents’ mortgage, donate significant amounts to a handful of my favorite local theaters.

And then I get stuck, often with a significant amount of money still to work with. I don’t know that I want anything so badly as to wish I had enough money to spend on it. There’s things I like, sure, there’s gadgets I find exciting. I just can’t see myself spree-shopping with the windfall.

The things I value don’t have tangible mass. The things I can’t replace exist as chemicals and bioelectrics.

If I live that long, there may come a point when my brain begins to burn to the ground, when the experiences of my life get fed to some dark and hungry entity, picking its teeth with splinters of my formative years.

I will want to, somehow, run back into the inferno and retrieve Tuesday evening.

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This entry was posted on February 13, 2009 by in Chicago, Love, Mental Health, Neo-Futurists, New Leaf Theatre, Society.
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