Backstage for “Backstory”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Backstage for “Backstory”: The View from the Patio

Shortly before I posted the link to the monologue I contributed to the Victory Theater’s presentation of its “Ten Commandments” show on zoom, I took a disposable camera into a shop to have its film developed. The images included a few shots I took of the view from the rear patio of the SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility) where my mother spent her last year. Whenever it was sunny, but not too hot, she would get herself hoisted into a wheelchair, and then I would roll her through the dining room where other residents were playing cards or watching television. Many of them never got outside at all. Unless someone visited, patients were kept indoors and deprived of sunlight’s direct caress. A malnutrition of the light’s touch. There was a spot near a large cabinet that was especially perfect for a sunbath on a day that might have a slightly chilly breeze. Due to the vagaries of wind current, the cabinet seemed to deflect any gusts of cool air, and my mother could sit there and enjoy whatever warmth the sun provided.

Since I sit too much in addressing my tasks as a teacher, I often would stand as she enjoyed the sunlight. My view was either the curtained window of the patient’s rooms or the rear area of the theater that I mention in the monologue, the Long Beach Playhouse. The photographs in today’s entry show the front of the theater, with the traditional symbolic masks of theater at the top of the second story, and the odd ensemble of objects on view over the fence. The stanchions of a staircase, with the paint scoured off by deluges of time, were an incarnation of poems by William Carlos Williams. Was the shed for costumes and old scripts?

The script of my conversations with my mother did not change much. Politics was not a potential subject, since she had long ago succumbed to the ideological blandishments of right wing radio announcers. Rush Limbaugh was a little too liberal for her taste. Actually, I don’t know if she was that conservative. When she still lived on her own in Imperial Beach, however, she told me that she would listen to the radio when she couldn’t sleep, and that she preferred the sound of a human voice at 2 a.m. rather than listen to a station playing Frank Sinatra’s recordings. That music, no doubt, brought back too many memories with too little succor.

Here, once again, for easy access is the link to “BACKSTORY”:

“Honorable Discharge: I Want My Life Back”

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