On the occasion of the Royal Wedding which stirs up old memories of the front yard re-enactments of the Patricia Nixon and Princess Anne weddings from my childhood...
This production is over. Curtains down. The audience can go home. The story has played out and we can all go home and read the reviews in the morning. As a child all public weddings (Princesses Anne and Margaret, Trisha Nixon) were re-enacted in the neighborhood front lawns. Sheets as wedding dresses, dandelion bouquets and daisy chain tiaras, recruiting little brothers into the roles of reluctant grooms, as we took turns as bride, re-enacting the rituals that made our mothers wives and mothers, perpetuating a dream so ingrained in our psyches that we always knew it would be our future. Allowances saved up for the latest issue of Bride Magazine so that we could design the set long before the cast of characters had been hired.
What we didn’t know: the endless rehearsals; the failed backdrops and missing props; the lack of support from the supporting cast; the nasty adlibbing that wasn’t part of the script; the effort it would take, the price we would pay to pull this off. The cost of admission to our self esteem and faith. The strength our role would require to survive. How love dies, replaced by fear and pain, hate even. How love lets you down and throws tomatoes at you while you are still on stage, trying to keep up with the script, follow the stage directions, doing the best you can.
In the end, after the final curtain call, no matter how spot on the decision to close the play before the tour was over, the end hurts. Why? A sense of failure in making it through the play to the final act of drama that was started in the front yards so many years ago. The end that was to be growing older and closer to each other, caring for each other as the costumes, our bodies, become worn and faded with each repeat performance. The final act of seeing each other through bravos and booing, forgotten lines and miscues, to the last death scene as one protagonist breathes the final breath in the arms of the beloved. A sense of failure to our children for not being able to create that dream life for them that we drew on as dreams as children ourselves. The white sheet gown replaced by a straightjacket. The dandelion poesy: a costly bouquet of dead roses. The daisy chain tiara replaced by a crown of thorns.
But as the clerk submitted the certified papers, as the judge blessed the closure of the play, I break. I gulp. I involuntarily bathe myself internally with tears, fighting hard to not let them seep out. I fear if I do I won’t be able to stop them, ever. I have failed. My husband failed me. My dream failed me. The curtain has gone down on the front yard play, Final Act. Time to go home. Single. No more alone than I was in my marriage. No bravos. No standing ovations, no encores. But alone. Gulp.