January 31st, 2009 → Leave a comment
Yesterday was tough. I’d anticipated this phone call for some time and when it came it was both sad and relieving.
My grandfather passed away in San Francisco yesterday in the care home he was staying in. He was 89 years old.
He’d been in a great deal of pain and his quality of life had deteriorated for quite some time. It was always so hard for me to say goodbye to him before leaving for LA because I wasn’t sure if I’d see him again. I can’t quite grasp that he is no longer alive, especially because he’s so alive to me in my memory. And also because I am in Homer, Alaska. He practically raised me and my brother when my folks were at work. He was the nicest kindest man in the world. He immigrated to the United States as a teenager, taught himself English, and eventually bought and ran a laundry business and raised a family.
He embodies the American dream. He is my hero.
The one thing I wanted him to give me before he passed was a Chinese name to give my kid– you know, basically a Kunte Kinte naming moment. And if I don’t ever have kids, I guess I’ll have a bunch of pets running around with Chinese names. But he said he couldn’t think of one and that my “husband’s father” should name my kid. A gender thing, I guess. So I tried to get him to give my brother’s imaginary kid a Chinese name, with the idea that I would just steal that name for my kid. But no dice.
It was rough to run through the show before we opened to the public yesterday. I couldn’t deal with a rehearsal and had to go upstairs to sob to Pete on the phone. He said some really encouraging things about letting myself feel what I needed to feel. That this is all part of life. I got myself back together and went back to rehearse.
I had a couple hours to relax. Then I took a breath and we did the show for a nice sized Thursday crowd here in Homer. I wasn’t sure if I would just rely on my “autopilot performer” or if in all my grief I could actually muster up a present performance.
The space is already a bit tricky because it’s really a gallery with some theater equipment put in. The show is going along… Then, nightmare of nightmares… the video projector doesn’t work. The video projector is integral to the show. A tech disaster of this magnitude has not happened before. I didn’t realize it until my technician and the gallery director are running towards me onstage doing frantic tech troubleshoting while this was happening. I vamped, and the audience was really patient and funny about it all.
I did have a moment where I thought, “Just stop the show. Just end it all. You can’t do this without your video projector and right now they can’t follow any of this. Plus, you’re tired.” But then another part of me thought, “All these people drove in the Alaska winter to see a show– your show. So give them a show, broken projector or not. And goddamit Kristina, work it.”
So I did the show. We ended up doing part of the show with me holding my laptop up to the audience (so ghetto), and then I had to improvise the absence of the projector.
It actually worked out ok. And the audience who had never seen how the show was supposed to go, said they didn’t really miss much without the projections. And another surprise, the part of the show where I cry, was actually very hard for me. I figured my grief would naturally spill into that moment but I guess I do have some boundaries to not exploit one real loss for one fictionalized one on stage.
I ended the night with a big glass of pale at the Irish pub next door. I went to bed feeling wrung dry. At 4am this snow plow that sounded like it had an alarm clock attached to it went zipping in circles around the block for half an hour. I wasn’t sure what the sound was at first, I thought that maybe the volcano that is 100 miles away went off and it was the city alarm. It was so loud, I couldn’t sleep.
Today it is windy and snowy. The waves are choppy and according to weather.com it feels like negative 11 degrees out. It’s quite miserable but fun to watch things blowing around. We’ve been invited to eat at this Native guy’s (Ernie) home. He is gong to cook us deer and fish. I’ll only be eating the fish. So kind for people to treat me like family.
I will continue my tour. I am just doing a detour after Alaska. Instead of two days in LA, I will be in San Francisco with my family.
This transition has me feeling older, more responsible, and want to take the reins on life that much more. It’s also really confusing to have already been tempted by all these Alaskan breeders and now face the pressure of having to create the third living generation of my family.
One of my new years resolutions was to pursue my life’s purpose without abandon. But before that… figure out what it I’m supposed to be here for.
Any ideas what this life thing is all about?