I just finished the outline of stories for my evening-length show coming up on Nov. 7 – For the Better — Honoring ten years with paralysis. Phew!
I wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach this show. Caterpillar Soup was, for the most part, a straight ahead chronology of two years of my life, two extraordinary years, the first two years I was injured. But I wanted to do something different for this show. I wanted to capture the complexities of a long span of time without chronicling a long span of time. I wanted juicy, chewable bites, none too large but every one delicious and satisfying. I wanted each of those bites to nourish a different part of us so that, by the end of the evening, we felt gloriously full, satiated way down deep without a hint of sleepy, snake belly. I wanted to feed, not in the sense of vainly reveling in this life I’ve been living, but in the sense of offering food, something that might sustain the living we’ve all got coming. I wanted to celebrate, communally, the richness of our lives.
I started with stories that longed to be told, the ones that pushed themselves shamelessly to the front of the line and wouldn’t be told to wait: slapping myself across the face in a rain-soaked rage; peeing on Dean — the first time; laughing myself out of my chair; greeting my legs post-injury; meeting Reba. Then, emboldened by their pushy siblings, more stories came forward: the one about the tree and the hot tub; breakfasts at Bagel Nosh after doctor-ordered sex; that sweaty biker in Santa Monica; rectal sorties. They swirled around each other, bumping knees in a messy jumble of convivial chaos.
Then I asked myself what exactly I wanted to honor. The list was long: awkwardness, family, fear, my mom, laughter, strangers, vulnerability, love. And the stories fell into formation, like dutiful cadets… Or, to stick with one metaphor, like the courses of a meal.
Don’t know if I’ll stick too closely to that metaphor (is love the main course or dessert?), but it looks like the evening will be organized as a series of tributes, each story or group of stories reflecting its honoree. And like all of my work, it will be very diverse. Think “the five tastes” meet “the Seder plate.”
There’s still plenty to do and a lot can change in a week, but that’s where it’s at tonight. I’m excited to see how the rest unfolds. And I feel warm and held in the presence of these tales. I can’t wait to feast with you.
Click here for more information about For the Better or to purchase tickets.