My first class was tonight. It exceeded my expectations.
My classmates are all women younger than me (except for one older lady). I recognized two of them from yoga.
Some of us may be friends for a long time.
The workshop runs for ten weeks and it will climax with a public performance.
The teacher started us out with an assignment to draw a picture from our life. She gave us crayons and brown paper bags.
I used one blue crayon and sketched the hovel. In the middle, I pictured me lying down.
The teacher asked us to give our work a title. I called mine "Sick."
Then she asked us to locate what grabbed our attention about our drawing and then to write about it.
I wrote: "Sick. Sick. Sick. I’ve spent half of my life sick. I’m sick of being sick. I’ve been mildly sick for the past two-and-a-half weeks. If I’m going to be sick, why can’t I be spectacularly sick? I want to be strong and manly. I want to be a rock that women dash themselves against. I want to be a rock of moral strength. I want to carry the realizations I’ve gained through illness into my healthy life and make a difference. I want to save up money to tide myself over through bad times. I want to be warm and safe."
The teacher said this was a prose poem. She encouraged me to explicate on my primal male archetype. She wanted to hear more about my being a rock that women dash themselves against.
Then she had us each of spontaneously tell a story.
I said: It was July 9th. Let’s say the year was 2005. My girlfriend Dana* called from New York where she was visiting family.
"Luke," she said, "there’s something I want to tell you. On Friday night, Vicki* came over and we fooled around. How do you feel about that? I was her late night booty call. How does that make you feel?"
I felt a dagger ripping into my chest. "Wow," I said.
I wanted to be real to the moment. I did not want to be vulnerable. I did not want to appear angry. I did not want to inquire further. I did not want to ask, "Did she *** your ***** better than I did? Did she make you ****** better than I did? Did you talk about me after you ******?"
I felt so hurt. My woman having sex with someone else is the most painful thing she can do to me.
"Wow," I said.
"Yes," she said.
"Wow," I said.
I paused and then said: "So how are things with your family?"
Then her call waiting beeped.
"I have to take this," she said. "It’s my father. Hang on."
I hung on for about 40 seconds. Then I hung up. When Dana called back, I did not take her call. Instead I returned to the book I was reading by Katie Roiphe, "Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939".
The teacher says I remind her of Harold Pinter with his Pinteresque pauses.
Cathy Seipp had said that about my writing.
The teacher asked me what I did after I got off the phone.
"I walked around in a circle," I said. "And then I walked down the road."
She asked what I felt.
"At first stabbing pain," I said. "And then relief."
"That there wasn’t anything I needed to do. I didn’t need to try anymore. I didn’t need to attempt to square the circle. She hated Orthodox Judaism. I was dedicated to it. We were finished."