Love in the Time of Corona, Part 18 “Dance Monkey”


Everyday, I go to the meadow to dance. I dance a prayer for the people. The meadow is in City Park where camping would normally be strictly prohibited but a couple days ago I noticed a young hippie girl had pitched her tent underneath some nearby trees. Yesterday I yelled “stay safe, good night!” when the dancing and praying was done and I was pedaling home. She waved. Tonight I noticed she had a young feller with her. Handsome lad, a marbled bear chest and in cut-off blue jeans. I don’t know if he’s a new addition or he just hadn’t been around when I first saw her. Sometimes when I’m dancing out there, I close my eyes and see what I can see. Today, I turned back toward the trees where their tent is after a long time of looking at closed-eye visions and I saw him going back underneath the trees, to the tent, from the meadow. My heart sank a bit. I have my ear buds in so I can’t hear. I’m afraid he’d come out there to dance with me and that I didn’t see him. I’m afraid he yelled out, “Hey pops, can I dance with you?!” and I didn’t hear. I’m afraid he looked at me and thought I wouldn’t be into having some dude come out and join me in the dance. (I get type cast a lot.) I don’t know if that Marshall speaker I have in my living room is only plug-in or if it has a battery but if it has a battery I’d love to put it in my Marine backpack tomorrow and take it with me when I go to do so that they can come out and dance with me if they want. That we can do and keep safely apart. I’m desperate to connect with people. I’m learning so much about myself during all this. We all know what a solitary activity writing is, or at least those of us who’ve ever sought to do any fair amount of it. I even call myself a writer. I think when I do it well it’s pretty good. You almost will never hear me be as confident about anything. My style is not for everyone but I dig it. And it’s real. I really tell people who read me what’s really going on. There’s a lot that’s not real out there. I’ve have a bellyful. 
I’m in as much FaceTime contact with my new boyfriend as is possible with his work schedule. He lives in LA. So do I now, at least part-time. Our plan is to live between the two cities. We rented a place in Hollywood yesterday. We might be the first couple I’ve ever heard of to move in together before meeting in person. (We met on a dating app and have video dated about 150 hours so far.) I love him already and I’ve never even held his hand. I am not leaving New Orleans either. This place is my “spiritual home,” as Tennessee Williams, my ascended master called it; plus I have zero interest in abandoning the city I have come to feel, not only that I am a part of, but that it is a part of me. A hundred thousand fewer people live her now than before Katrina hit. Let that sink in. A hundred thousand is a lot of folks. And it’s not even necessarily the case that those who were forced into hurricane exile in Houston or beyond didn’t want to come back. But a lot of people live paycheck-to-paycheck; we are probably (hopefully) made most aware of that now during the coronavirus. People who fled New Orleans after Katrina couldn’t leave the lives they’d started to rebuild to return to an uncertain economic climate and no guarantees of work. This is a city whose economy is build on tourism. Large sporting events, the many festivals, of course Mardis Gras and Jazz Fest, our mayor has already declared (and I believe wisely so) that there will be no large events here before 2021. But everybody who lives here in one way or another makes their living off of that fact. I’m a writer and a producer; I art direct for film and teach writing to veterans. A lot of artists have “side-hustles” (a term I learned when I moved to New Orleans) to keep their dreams afloat. I do carpentry for the Food Network and hang theatrical lighting for everything from big conventions to WWE events at the Superdome to Mardis Gras balls. None of those things will be happening until this dark angel has passed us over. The point of all that is to say that I cannot abandon New Orleans in the wake of corona. Matthew understands this. I will be a part of the rebuilding of this city one more time. I’ll just now be living between these two cities and of course still spending a lot of time in New York. When this shit is over, I’m ready with a plan that will finally help do what I’ve long dreamed of doing. I’ve been blessed to work in the Arts and Entertainment field in a whole lot of different capacities. I’m going to build a page-to-stage production machine that produces for live stage, music events, and screens big and small that offers paid apprenticeships to veterans so that just a short time down the road, when I’m involved in a film or cooking competition or play (especially something I’ve written) I will have this huge pool of veterans (who really know their shit) from which to hire. Veterans are perfect for this business. In the military we are told that the mission is of ultimate importance, in essence we are to “save the world.” Artists are artists for the same reason. In the military we are given limit resources to accomplish this epic mission and, oh yeah, it’s got to be done yesterday. That makes them a perfect fit for “show bidness.” I’ve been working with veterans pretty much since I got back from Iraq in 2003. I saw a need and a way I might be useful. Even when we were in country, Marines would come to me to help them sort out some of the harder shit we were going through. Creating works of art together can help us heal. It can help us live in healthier relationships to our memories. I can build this. Together, we can do this.
So yeah, that’s pretty much my dream and it seems as though, in the most peculiar time perhaps in my life, that some things are lining up to make it happen. I hope it will. My greatest desire is to leave this place better than I found it. My generation didn’t do so well with all that. 
Yesterday my boyfriend Matthew and I celebrated our one-month anniversary of “going steady” (as we used to call it back in the day) by renting an apartment together. Anybody with a half a brain would consider us crazy. But some of my favorite people are.
Tomorrow I’ll go back to the meadow to dance and pray. I hope the hippie kids are there. I hope they’ll come and dance ten feet from me. I’ll pray that the dream I just shared with you comes to fruition. I’ll pray for your dreams too.

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