It's been a strange week, starting with the news that an old friend, with whom I spent a lot of time when I was finishing my film in San Francisco in 2005 (he edited the film) but I hadn't seen in several years, died last week. Apparently of a heart attack in his sleep, which is the death everyone says they want, but he was not old. I'm not certain, but I think he was younger than me.
Maybe everyone has people like this. I feel like I have dozens. I always attributed it to the fact that my life was so peripatetic for those 12 years I spent away from New York. People whom you feel very close to but live far apart and from time to time you worry about the friendship because you haven't seen each other for way too long but you always think, "One of these days we'll end up in the same city at the same time and we'll reconnect and catch up."
And then with that sadness about the passing of my old friend, and time, in the background, I got some disappointing career news. I and my co-writers had 3 possible opportunities for developing our new project in the coming year, and one by one they all evaporated, the third one in the form of an email a few days ago, very sorry, lots of great applicants this year, etc. (I know it's meant sincerely, but I wish we could retire that language of rejection letters. It doesn't help to know that they felt lots of other applicants were better.)
(Some vague sense of professional discretion makes me think, though I can't for the life of me see what difference it would make and maybe it's not discretion but embarrassment, that I shouldn't be more specific, but in a way it doesn't matter what the opportunities were. They're just a few in the endless list of things, as an artist in a culture of too many artists and too little support, one applies for and doesn't get.)
I'm not complaining, not really, I know I chose this life knowing full well that failure and rejection were always going to be much much more likely than success, and I can't say I haven't had way more than my share of amazing experiences and people and pure magic, but there are days when it's clearer than others that the real fabric of an artist's life is disappointment, and there are days when I don't have any more intelligent or skillful or useful response than just to pout.
I had a dream this morning, though. It was one of those dreams where all night long you're trying to get some place and every time you think you're close there's another obstacle and you find yourself slipping farther and farther way. I was trying to get home but I kept getting on the wrong bus, getting lost, getting caught up in the drama of random strangers.
But then eventually after a long night ride, the Greyhound pulled into a station I recognized. I got out of the bus and exited the station onto a dark, quiet street, walked for a while with a small group of people I had befriended on the bus. They told me that they had to find their car and still had a long journey ahead of them, and I told them that I lived just a couple blocks away. Even in the dream I was aware that being close to home meant that some new obstacle would appear and waylay me.
But that's not what happened. I just walked the two blocks to my house, a big old wooden house with a porch, and the light was on and there were people talking softly. I walked up the steps to the porch and lay down on a mattress that was there, and then C came and lay down with me, and then a woman I barely know, who I met when she worked for a company that develops new musicals in New York but she's since moved to San Francisco to start her own theater company, and she and C both wrapped their arms around me, and standing in the front doorway was a couple who were dear friends when I lived in Nashville but I don't really keep in touch with them anymore but I think of them often and wish they still lived nearby, and they were smiling.