It’s a theater town, and I’m having trouble navigating conversations without running into Chekhov, or Shaffer, or Miller. Without running into stories of love affairs, loss, religion. Of horses, whales, cross-country bike rides. I’m late to this, it seems, accruing high-brow culture others discovered in college, high school, younger yet. But I’m reading these plays, finding inspiration in dialogue-driven narrative, with what writers choose to say and, more importantly, what they choose to omit. Negative space of the internal landscape.
They’re cute, the size and shape of these publications, one hundred pages at most, that fit discreetly in my back pocket. I take them on trains, underground and across boroughs, to visit friends spanning the history of my life. I read the plays, while walking, on the beat back to my marijuana-smoke-filled sublet in 2-a.m. Harlem. They sing me to sleep (along with Leah, in the next room over, recording her latest album).
In addition to dialogue, set design has me reeling, the way an entire two- to three-act play can take place in a single location—a living room perhaps, a movie theater, a therapist’s office. Place becomes important, setting perimeters and setting tone. It enhances the characters as well as the actors, challenging both. Setting becomes a character unto itself.
I’ve known this, inherently in my travels, but have always failed the equation of loving where I live. I’ve never found my place, being not only at odds with myself, but my environment. And it must be assumed to live in discord with place creates chaos in other facets as well—career, romance, health. This has been my Montana.
It’s hard to love to live in your hometown, yet we despise the transplants that answer the void we create. Montana can never win in my eyes: growing up it was too racist and remote and homophobic and white-washed. Now, with Bozeman’s boom, it’s become ultra-liberal and diversified (well, at least less than 96% Caucasian) and trigger-warning heavy and yuppie/grungy/crunchy/outdoorsy to the 10th degree. Either way, Bozeman is an annoying sibling. I need an annoying lover.
So what am I getting at? This: New York feels good. I don’t know if this is a hoax, or puppy love, or the form of infatuation I offer girls only to later find my heart untrue. But NYC is a stage design that I could act out scenes within, maybe make it through a few acts. The idea is romantic, maybe overly-romantic: to have a New York era of your life. I want to be able point to a body of work and say, “that was my New York writing.” I mean, what better place to suffer as an artist? What better place to fail, heaven forbid, if it should ever come to that?
I’m back home for now—Montana—but look forward to an exodus. To a place where I feel more attractive, dress better, eat healthier, walk more, spend more time outside, have friends in the neighborhood that cuddle with me while watching horror films, and where each day holds the endless possibility of awe. Semi-charmed is no longer working.