Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Chloe and Andre, a pair of impossibly beautiful and talented people who also happen to be crazy in love with one another, decided to get married last night before the eyes of their family and friends at the Garfield Park Conservatory, with musical interludes and a post-pronouncement serenade from circus gypsy punk rock marching band sensation Mucca Pazza. A fantastic event, all around, a sort of casually romantic festivity, something that enveloped you like sheets of mist instead of bowling you over with its declarations of love.
Against the initial demands of the caterers, Chloe had insisted that there be no assigned seating at the wedding, which is part of how Dana and I ended up sitting next to Curious Theatre‘s Bryn Magnus and his wife Amy Warren, late of Broadway’s The Adding Machine1. It was a fascinating and serendipitous meeting.
In the early to mid-90s, there was a famous marketing campaign designed to promote the benefits of drinking milk, in which a young boy or girl would stand in front of a mirror while their attractively aging reflection would describe how working out and drinking milk led to their eventual state of dreamy hotness. It was The Portrait of Dorian Gray as both marketing tool and health lecture.
Anyhow, although I doubt the nutritional qualities of dairy would have anything to do with the situation, there were a number of moments throughout the evening when I felt we had just met some alternate version of ourselves from ten years in the future. It’s hard to accurately describe. I felt from Bryn a very similar temperament in terms of how we functioned as playwrights; I saw in Amy the same sort of joyously flitting butterfly personality that I see in Dana; I saw elements of how our marriage functioned in theirs. Indeed, as I understand it, Dana and Amy had a lengthy conversation later in the evening about waiting for the right moment to happen in one’s career, about the frustrating way their respective husbands had a bad habit of not even telling people that they were playwrights.
(For the record: I tend to do this because I fear the follow-up question “Oh, what might I have seen of yours?”)
In the complicated relationship I have with my acceptance of graduate school rejection, one of the aspects I’ve continued to mull over is the question of what I was looking to learn from a program focused on playwriting. It was a question I had to answer when I first applied, and at the time I felt like maybe something had stalled in my development, or that a key element was missing, because I’d never undergone any sort of formalized training in the first place. I wondered if within the blueprints of my career path was a place where a load-bearing beam had never been drawn, and if the graduate program was the way to get this crucial support structure installed.
I haven’t answered this question, and I could still see myself re-applying to graduate school in the future.
But there’s something incredibly powerful about learning from example, even when the example is not in place specifically to teach you anything.
And the next time I find myself thinking that maybe it’s been a nice long coast down a road I was never truly meant to travel, I will remind myself that out there in the world are Bryn and Amy, that for as much as we tell ourselves that life is short, it is also just long enough for our purposes if we allow ourselves to perceive it as such.
1 Amy has also recently done a stint in Broadway’s run of August: Osage County, which led me to think for a moment that I’d misheard her last name, that I was actually sitting next to Steppenwolf’s Amy Morton, leading to several seconds of frantic internal monologue–“Waitaminnit. Is this Amy Morton? This doesn’t look like any picture I’ve ever seen of Amy Morton. I didn’t know Amy Morton was married to Bryn Magnus. Wait, didn’t she just say she lives in New York? Doesn’t Amy Morton live in Chicago, still? She’s directing American Buffalo next season, isn’t she? My God, if this is Amy Morton I’m going to feel like a real idiot for not recognizing her; it’s not like I haven’t seen her climactic and definitive moment in August on a two-story photograph every time I ride the Brown Line downtown. Oh, wait, she just said she was in The Adding Machine. Amy Morton wasn’t in that. This isn’t Amy Morton. Amy Warren. Heard that right the first time. Whew.”