I was so wired up last night that I woke at 3 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I put on a robe and staggered into the living room, where John (who is a real night-owl) was watching a rerun of Wayne’s World. He asked me if I was okay and I gave him one of those “yes, I’m fine” kind of answers. I knew I wasn’t fooling him. Finally I asked him to rub my shoulders a bit, partly because I was all knotted up and partly because I needed to be touched.
He worked the worst of the kinked-up spots out of my shoulders and back, and then he just held me for a while. Finally he asked me to tell him what was bothering me, and I gave him the abridged version of my woes (there are special demons that bedevil those of us in the performing arts, particularly those of us in the performing arts who are no longer young). He listened. Then he scolded me a bit for even entertaining those demons. Then he reassured me by saying all the things I needed someone to say.
John is not a theatre buff. He likes to go to the theatre occasionally, but the business itself – its neuroses, its conceits, its posturing – frequently makes him impatient. He usually comes to see my shows once – a return visit is a rarity. He doesn’t “get” Shakespeare. He doesn’t “get” a lot of the great playwrights. Quite frankly, sometimes he just doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. But he does understand how much of one’s heart has to go into this Business We Call Show, and when one’s heart has gotten knocked about in pursuit of the Muse, he doesn’t say “I told you so” or “You’re a fool.” He helps me pick myself back up, knowing full well that odds are I’ll just get knocked down again.
We will be celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary next week. I honestly don’t know how I got along without John before we met; I certainly can’t get along without him now. So John, the following is for you. It’s Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXIX – my favorite. I know you don’t “get” Shakespeare, but go ahead and read it. If you still don’t get it, I’ll explain it to you. It’s important that you “get” this one.
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
I love you, John.