Monday, March 07, 2005

Dear Spalding,

Are you swimming? I’ve been thinking about you lately, and I thought I should write to you today. Someone should.

I’ve been keeping a blog, which is more or less like what you used to do except in written form. Everyone does this now, which you could take to mean that everyone is Spalding Gray. I’m not at all sure this is a good thing, by the way. After you went missing, I read somewhere that you had dyslexia and had trouble writing things down. I didn’t know this about you, but I could tell. Your books were never really free of it; it flattened them out. Or were words just stage directions for your body and voice? Is this the difference between acting and writing?

Anyway, now that you’re dead, I have a confession to make. I always had a crush on you, even though I knew you were an asshole. It’s that thing in the eyes; it gets me every time. Phil had it--most Geminis do--except his never came out in books or films or monologues or anything. It just stayed there for a long time, until I couldn’t see it anymore. I hear he’s a businessman now, which isn’t quite the same thing. Or maybe it is?

Oh yeah, and another thing. You’re a fucker for the way you left Renée. (She’s a Virgo, isn’t she? She must be.) I suppose you already know that your monologues were never as good after that. They didn’t ring true anymore; they didn't come to life. Maybe that was the depression setting in, or maybe you had nothing left to say. Or maybe you just gave up. Is that why you got married and had babies and left New York? (Babies that will grow up haunted and torn the same way you were haunted and torn, you selfish fuck.) Did you give up on the life you were given?

I realized something while watching you perform a monologue once. You were talking about your mother’s illness and suicide, and I was right there with you as you burned through it, second row right, feeling it like you felt it and so deeply grateful that you were saying it out loud. I realized then that there are no perfect moments, except maybe when you’re on stage and the words are coming out in a thick, perfect stream, and you know that the audience is right there with you and that for once, the things that make you feel alone and apart are the very same things that connect you to other people.

Anyway, I'm coming to understand that the only thing to do, to aspire to, is to live the best life that is possible under the circumstances. Fuck transcendence, fuck Zen, fuck all those perfect, illusory moments. You work with what you've got: with your eye disease and your dyslexia and your depression and your repression and your psychotic mother and the fear that is always there in the pit of your stomach and the desperate, compulsive need to connect so that you don’t disappear completely. You work with it; you make do, and you love as well as you can along the way. Otherwise, they drag your bloated, decomposing body out of the East River and you never get to Cambodia.

Then again, maybe you do. You’d know better than I would. Wherever you came ashore, I hope that you have peace. And that the banana actually sticks.


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