Friday, July 3, 2009

American Home

Good evening from Lincoln, Nebraska where the sky is exploding in glorious colors!

They do their fireworks here on the 3rd of July, apparently. We were treated to a show driving along I80 in the rain. (We're resting here for the night before continuing on to Humboldt, Iowa for family, more fireworks and Americana.)


So, I thought I'd do something a little different in this post...

Though I haven’t written much about it here on LITTOF, I am a playwright.

And back in November when the prospect of losing the house started to look very real, I started a new play called American Home.

So much in the news was about people taking drastic measures in the face of foreclosure and I wanted to understand not only what was happening with us, but so many other Americans as well. What was MY worst case scenario, I wondered?

I’ve since completed the play. Well, at least a first draft. And I just wanted to share this one monologue as it attempts to convey the despair we experienced in our darker moments. Now that we’re on the other side, it’s easy to forget how challenging it was. And I’m extremely cognizant of the fact that it is possible to feel utterly powerless and still be able to turn that around. When you’re in it, it feels impossible. When you’re out, it feels like it was never that hard.

I believe in the resilience of the human spirit. And I think that’s what my play ended up being about more than about people losing their homes- though that’s where it began.

Anyhoo… Here’s the monologue that opens the second act of my play American Home:

AMERICAN HOME
ACT 2, SCENE 1

"THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MIKE WASHINGTON"

Lights up on MIKE WASHINGTON.
He addresses the audience.

MIKE: I keep thinking about Tetris. You know that game? You know with the blocks. All different sizes and shapes and you have to position them as they’re falling so that they fit without any empty spaces. You’re supposed to get them to fit perfectly together and when you do, they disappear. But the blocks don’t stop falling. They keep coming. Slow at first.

(Bills fall from the sky. Slow at first.)

And you can manage that pace. You’re doing all right. And you start to feel good about it. Auto-pilot kicks in. Just when you’re getting cocky, they fall faster.

(The bills fall faster.)

And you make your first mistake. Then you adjust. And you’re back on track. Fitting the blocks. Turning them, getting them to fit just right. Your confidence builds. You’re agile. Good reflexes. Keeping up with the game.

And then they fall faster. And it’s not so easy any more. You up your game. Your pace quickens. Muscles tighten. Stomach twists. They fall faster and faster. And the faster they fall, the more flustered you get. Your heart races. Palms sweat.

(MIKE’S heart races. His palms sweat. He looks up
at the bills that continue to fall on him.
)

The game is faster than you. Without a doubt. Too fast. I can’t keep up. The blocks will pile up. Pile up. Pile up. One on top of the other, filling the screen. No more room. But the blocks keep coming. Failure is imminent.

I knew how to win. You just keep up. Stay calm. But I got too flustered. Made too many mistakes. And now it’s too late. I’m out of room and about to fail. It will all be over soon. And when it is. When I fail. It’s a relief. Because the anticipation of failure is always more painful than the actual failure. It’s inevitable. But with Tetris, there’s always the end. Game over. Where everything just stops.

(The bills stop. All is silent for a beat. MIKE breathes.)

And you can start again if you want. That’s the beauty of it. You press play and you get a new screen. Blank. Room for all those blocks to fit. You can avoid the mistakes you made the last time. Keep your cool a little bit longer. Learn some tricks to make the blocks fit.

Life is like Tetris except the blocks never stop falling…

(The bills continue to bury him alive.)

And there’s no such thing as a blank screen. I keep looking, but for the life of me I can’t fucking find the start button.

Copyright (C) 2009 Stephanie Alison Walker


Have a safe and happy Independence Day!


Photo by Digihound, LLC

3 Comments:

Kim Hooper said...

Hope you guys had a great 4th! Glad you posted this one :)

Love in the Time of Foreclosure said...

Thanks, Kim. We had a great 4th... though Pablo almost had a heart attack because we were so close to the fireworks at the Humboldt fair grounds. Man, they were loud!

Note to us: Never bring Pablo to watch fireworks again. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

EM Lewis said...

It's a really, really wonderful play. I hope you start sending it out as soon as you land!

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