Taking the shit with the rest of it: my expanding awareness of home
I did not set out to be a roving performerâ€”not when I was younger, not even five years ago, after I wrote Phone Whore and started touring with itâ€”but it’s something that has settled on me, and into me. Similarly, I did not plan on doing polyamory; it’s something that, after 30 years of playing around and being serious with other people, just makes sense.
I bring this up by way of saying that I have put thought into my life, at individual moments, at forks in the road, but not necessarily into the whole thing, and I am surprised, on reflection, about how lucky I’ve been. In general, the sailor-in-every-port model of polyamory has worked out well for me. I mean, I actually don’t have a sailor in every port. In fact, my ratio of sailors (long-distance, long-term, deep-connection) to ports (places where I have performed) is currently over one to 10. Which is fine! I still get acquainted with a few nice people. And touring is great, too, I’m going out there and meeting audiences who are excited to see me, I get to perform my plays and have the discussions, and watch new landscapes whiz by on the train, and occasionally have people buy me ciders. It’s great, it really is!
But I’m starting to wonder if I’m missing out. Like, on the hard stuff.
Because I only get to see cities at their best and brightest and fringiest. My touring season cuts across mostly temperate weather and the fun, festival bits, when everyone is wearing their sexiest outfits. And I’m setting up the Smut Stand in the hip, boho neighborhoods, where people go to hang out and have fun and I’m seeing them in love and tipsy and sexed up.
Or my lovers. Some of them I’m seeing for a week a year, or maybe a few weeks, at most, and it’s all restaurants and ice cream and moonlit walks and cuddling while watching movies and fucking twice a day because they are making time for me and I’m damn well giving as much good, hard loving as I’m getting, and that can be quite a lot, thank you. There is one lover in particular where every time I leave them I am dizzy with mingled ecstasy and sadness. This lover is the one that is making me wonder what I’m missing by leavingâ€¦
Because I’m not seeing everything. I’m not seeing the cities I loveâ€”and there are manyâ€”I’m not seeing them when I’m not in a pre- or post-performance zone. I’m not getting the day-to-day, the three months of winter rain, the hideous public transportation system that I didn’t notice because I was splurging on cabs or walking home after the buses stopped, for the whole time I was at the festival. With my lovers, I’m not getting the stumbling mornings, the emergency trips to the store for tampons, the post-dinner washing up and the mad dash back to the computers to finish our respective projects on time.
Well, and who wants that shit? you’re probably thinking. HI, I’ve been thinking the same damn thing for years. I was glad to be shut of it, to be out of the loop, to not be bothered with petty details or the big crashing arguments that inevitably come out of being in a place, or being with someone, for a long time. I was happy flitting from one city to the next, resting easily with my lovers when I could, but moving on, staying free. Who wants that other shit?
In my mind, I say that really tough-like: who wants that shit? But recently there has been another voice piping up from the corner and saying, um, me?
Don’t get me wrong. They still draw me out there, the new cities, the new opportunities, the new people. But surely there is more to love in a city than just the bright bits and the theatre spaces. There’s the underbelly, the cut-rate grocery stores, the greasy spoons, the terrible city politics that everyone works around, the shitty road construction that will eventually, they say, be wonderful. And there is more to value in love than just the honeymoon. There are the long talks, and the stressful home repairs, and hard times with each other’s families, and what you learn about the other person while watching them struggle, while helping them through that struggle, and what they will learn about you.
I don’t believe that I need to suffer to appreciate good things. I don’t want to romanticize any part of a city or a person that is actually not working out, for me or for that entity, in the long run. Been there, done that, got the red flag. I just think, sometimes, that I want to stop again and give somebody a chance, live in one place for w hile, and just soak it in, the good and the bad.
This is another part of home that I want. I don’t know how to balance it with my wandering ways. But oh god, I want to.
All this introspection about home vs. away is all leading up to something. Want to help me get there? Become a patron of mine on Patreon!