Friday, May 21, 2010

Next Fall

Leaves Near Grant's Tomb
Riverside Park, taken last fall

I recently saw the Broadway production of Next Fall.  I had been curious about this play - which deals with issues of sexuality, religion, relationships, family, heaven and hell - since reading the reviews a few months ago. So when a friend invited me to go, I was glad to accept.  I wanted to see how these topics were treated.

I sometimes get nervous when a character in a play/movie/show is portrayed as a born-again Christian.  Will it be an accurate depiction of Christianity?  Or will it employ stereotypes and misconceptions?  I was relieved to find the writing in Next Fall to be pretty fair and balanced. As in life, there are no easy answers in this play.  There are shades of gray; there are doubts. And there are questions - most of which are still unanswered when the curtain falls.

The title of the play refers to a character's decision to put off an important conversation with a family member until "next fall."  Many scenes take place in a NYC hospital, where the character is in a coma following an accident.  We, the audience, are left waiting to see if "next fall" will ever arrive for him.

A good reminder to not delay living.  To not leave things unsaid for an unguaranteed future; to live and love fully in the present.  Or, to quote another Broadway play, "No day but today."

* * *

After the show, my friend and I wandered over to a diner in Hell's Kitchen, where we sat drinking coffee and eating cheesecake and diagramming our family trees using all the cutlery and condiments on the table (his tree necessitated all his silverware as well as the ketchup, mustard, and sugar; I was able make mine using just a fork and knife and a couple of non-dairy creamers.)

We sat talking for awhile; it was late, but the diner still had life in it.  Two women sat along the far wall, eating dinner.  Three guys sat across the aisle from us, talking about video games.  Four friends were noisily reuniting and reading the menu in the booth behind us.  The manager walked by, refilled my coffee, offered up his opinions on the Knicks.

I often find myself thinking along the lines of "Life will really get started when I have x, when I've achieved y, when I've reached z."  Feeling that until those things happen, I'm just in a waiting game, a holding pattern.  But on that Wednesday night, sometime after midnight, as we walked from the diner towards the neon haze of Times Square to catch the subway, full from culture and conversation, I realized, "Hey - I like the way my life looks right now. I don't have x, y, or z, but I have this - all this - and for today, that's ok."

It's hard for me to hold that perspective all the time.  But in those moments when I do grasp it - those God-given breaks and reprieves from longing for tomorrow - in those moments, I'm ok with today.

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