As some of you know, I want to be Jake in the play Jake’s Women, which will be performed in St. Thomas, Ontario in February, 2016. Auditions are months away. I’ve told people that I’ve started memorizing Jake’s lines, and that’s true, but I haven’t turned a page in a month. Time to begin again.
Many years ago, Carol, the librarian at the Port Stanley Library, challenged me to learn the poem “Twas The Night Before Christmas” in time for the kids’ talent show in December. I showed up day after day at Sebastian’s, a cozy restaurant on Springbank Drive in London, to talk to myself creatively. And the deed was eventually done. Onto the stage I walked in a nightgown and night cap, holding a candle, and I told the story to the children. “And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.”
This afternoon, I drove from home with the script beside me. I knew that all the libraries were closed on Sunday, so where to go? A hotel. Good idea. Which one? How about the Sheraton Four Points on Wellington Road South? Sure. The lounge at the Four Points had been one of Jody’s and my favourites.
My early attempts at learning Jake had been weak. I was full of negative thoughts. “Maybe I’m too old to memorize hundreds of lines.” A friend of mine told me of some research about meditators. Apparently those who practice regularly can remember things more easily. Well, that’s good, but I still wasn’t bringing my whole self to the task.
Today, I sat in an easy chair looking out at the rainy world. I decided to order a glass of white wine. How about a Gewurztraminer, a semi-dry variety that I used to love? Sounds good. Now … page one. And guess what happened? I wasn’t scared. I tackled the sentences with gusto. Cool. I’ve seen six performances of Jake’s Women in the last six weeks – three in Belleville and three in London. I knew the flow of the story. I remembered Jake saying this and saying that. Yay!
After multiple sips of chilled white goodness, I opted for food. The menu proclaimed that French fries in garlic with bits of some fancy cheese was a winner. And the menu was right. There I was, the glass of wine perched on the right arm of the chair, the bowl of fries sitting on my lap, and my left hand hoisting Jake’s script. I talked out loud between bites and slurps. Oh, I had fun! And I was Jake. Wonder if the patrons halfway down the lounge thought so too?
I was getting some lines right, and some almost right, but more importantly I was on stage, at least in my mind. And here comes page 12, where Jake speaks at length to the audience. Power, and more power, flowed through me. I can do this. Who cares if I’m “old”? I sure don’t feel it.
“That little room up there [where Jake writes] is eight by ten feet but to me it’s the world. The universe! You don’t get to play God … You get to be God!”
“She’s so damn stubborn and intractable – only she’s not saying it. You wrote it! You’re bright, witty and clever and she’s a pain in the ass.”
My free hand was gesturing. My mouth was alternately orating and devouring. My heart was thumping away. No smallness here. I’ve got stuff to say, hopefully in February, 2016. And the words will come.