Sunday, October 07, 2007

LitQuake: My Favorite Week

Karen Barbour is an illustrator I love. She painted this cover

Tom's dad sent us some money for our anniversary. We decided to spend it on tickets for the opening night of LitQuake. Up in the balcony at Herbst Theatre, we watched as Armistead Maupin's friends thanked him for writing his books.

Laura Linney, Andrew Greer, Susie Bright, and Father Guido Sarducci were my favorites. They filled the space with love and laughs. Armistead and his husband sat up in a box on the side in plain view.

I had wondered if I would feel part of this celebration. I did and I didn't. All the people paying tribute to Armistead were so much themselves. Somehow, somewhere along the line, they had allowed their true selves to burst right out. There were some "coming-out-of-the-closet" stories, but that isn't what I'm talking about. These people weren't holding back any parts of their personality. I know they had rehearsed for the evening–but talk about a spontaneous and open-hearted group of people.

It made me wonder: If you really were able to be yourself, would it make you more alive and interesting and delightful and powerful? Would it make you meaner and more unpleasant as well?

I like it when people are really themselves, even if they're not-so-nice. It's freeing. You don't have to wonder. If they're artists, the art they make is theirs and only theirs, and instantly recognizable as theirs. But how does this freedom to be yourself come about? Does it have something to do with where you go to school? Armistead and Father Sarducci were talking about a grammar school teacher they had when they were in class together in Raleigh. In the car I asked Tom, "Do you think those two really did go to school together in Raleigh? What are the odds?"

Then I found out that Sally C had gone to high school with Armistead's sister in Raleigh. Sally C! So maybe it's true that both Armistead and Father Sarducci went to school there, too. Could it be that certain places, like Raleigh, are catalysts for bringing true selves forward? Or in this case, could it have been a certain teacher who taught in Raleigh?

8 years ago: Driving out to San Francisco by myself, the car loaded down with computer equipment, I would listen to More Tales of the City on tape. When I'd wake up in the morning in a Comfort Inn thinking, "Wait a minute. What am I doing?" Maupin's tapes would provide a clean reinstall of inspiration to my system.