I probably should have seen The Heidi Chronicles by now. As a woman sometimes called a "feminist", I find it hard to believe I haven't. I know that I at least thought about seeing it when the playwright Wendy Wasserstein died in 2006. But good intentions didn't purchase the ticket so I have been ignorant lo these many years.
One of the smaller but nevertheless very substantial theaters in town is presenting it. Roger invited me to go and, never one to turn down a free night at the theater, I said yes.
As we journeyed back in time with this product of the 50s whose consciousness was raised in the 60s and who began to wonder about her choices in the 70s only to realize her unhappiness in the 80s I alternated between feeling somewhat cheated to great relief and finally deep satisfaction.
When I heard the dialogue between the women who were discovering their voices and shouting with great passion and solidarity at the obstacles in their path, I wanted to have been there, to have participated in something other than a small town's attempt at disco fever as I did in my formative years. But when the conversations of "what if" turned into "what else" and a whining quality crept in, I was pleased to have skipped that level of angst. Finally, when our heroine discovers that she may be living into the heroine of the 21st century as she coos at her newly adopted daughter, I found my ahhhhh.
For I truly am satisfied. I don't live in regret. I celebrate who I am and am ok with not having done what was socially prescribed for a woman of my age during the various decades of my evolution. Choices -- both those that were thoughtful and based in compassion as well as those that were selfish and could have caused pain -- have made me ... well, me. And I hold no sadness that I am somehow not what I set out to be. Having never had the capacity to dream bigger than my reality, I'm thrilled with what's happened to me thus far and anticipate what's next with almost a giddiness.
Seeing it with my dear friend made the play that much more meaningful. Heidi has her doctor and I have my Roger. When we exited the theater, I told him I would have to wait a few moments to say something because I knew when I started to speak I'd cry (as I had done numerous times in the play) and didn't want to be seen sobbing as we walked to the car. I finally found my words when I told him, "Seeing plays like this -- it's a play from the 80s, so someone has to have AIDS -- reminds me that I am so fortunate to have encountered the gay world after the decade that took so many. I am selfish and I can't imagine losing any of 'my boys.'" Having just heard one friend speak of that time as he told of going from six parties in one week to going to six funerals in one week, I hold close the fact that while some friends are positive (though actually very few) and deal with medications that are sometimes horrific, they are still here. They are alive and bring life to my world.
Also, seeing it with Roger was significant in that as I have reflected of late on my lack of a love life, I could honestly tell him that because of him, Stan, Geary, Jerry, Shane, and others I know I will never be lonely. I may be alone, but not lonely.
So now I'm glad to say I have seen The Heidi Chronicles but not lived it. My march may lack some of their fury but it is no less significant. And while I am grateful for the doors they broke down, the ceilings they crashed through, and the paths they forged, I am no slouch. I revel in being present with young women today, answering their questions when they arise, sharing a story or two when appropriate and listening.
The Karen Chronicles continue...