Time: day time
Character: EMILY, late 20’s
Emily is practicing yoga positions throughout on her yoga mat—occasionally stopping to emphasize a point, but always returning to the commitment of her stretching and positions.
Ronald and I had been dating for about six months—I guess when we decided to move in together. We’d noticed we’d begun to grow apart, which was not our intention at all. We’d meant to grow together. We’re both very much into growth—inner and outer and being very aware and tuned in. I say this honestly, not bragging, I am simply telling the truth. We noticed we were not growing together, but in fact had started off in different directions and the only way we could figure out that we could grow together was by living together and sharing the same space and progressing as a couple: a unit yet maintaining a certain distance for the kind of growth you have to do but which would not endanger the outcome of the relationship. So we got this really cute apartment. All our friends were drooling, it was so unbelievably adorable. And I have a way with furniture, which is instinctive and innate so I can’t—and I refuse—to take full credit for how fantastic it looked once I got done. We did it together although Ronald was not so advanced as I in interior design, but he grew during that time so I decided I’d let him decide on the curtains for the kitchen.
(EMILY mimics a warning siren.)
Mistake! Mistake! Mistake! But how else was he going to learn? And the place was really outrageously cheap, which made all the droolers practically drown in their own drool they were drooling so much, but I considered that a growing experience for me and for them since I had to tolerate and understand their envy and they had to overcome their jealousy, which is what it was, I call them as I see them, and straight from the hip it was jealousy, but it was a very valuable learning time for all of us. But then it started all over. We were growing apart and it was very ugly sometimes. We were fighting, like, over who bought the toilet paper last and who should go out and buy milk and I said we were drowning in the drool of pettiness and unimportant trivial concerns and it did not bother me in the least that it was always me paying the bills and waiting to be reimbursed by Ronald because I figured I could learn from that frustration that a thoughtless person could cause so I did not rub his nose in it but I knew he felt guilty because he would always bring it up and apologize and then pick a fight, which was so childish and that is when I knew uh-oh we are regressing and it was time to split. It hurt. Because for me failure is devastating.
But I withstood it because I knew it was for the best and we could grow better together away from each other. And it was really a uniting experience, packing boxes, and dividing the furniture, and giving and taking is very beneficial because you learn that only love cannot be replaced so it did not kill me when he got the old wooden table when we drew lots on it. I let it go and went forward. And I knew it was only temporary that he would have it because we would grow together again and find a new place to live. At least that was what I expected. But it was ten days before I saw Ronald again and then it was about the phone bill. But after we talked I knew he was only finding his space and providing a distance for us, which we needed because only with distance between you and someone can you grow together. Without that distance it’s strangulation and death and that was what we did not want.
So now I’m going with someone else and so is Ronald, which I think is so valuable and we are really growing together as individuals so when we come back together it’ll be like we are fully raised loaves of bread and not separate scattered ingredients—flour over there, yeast still in its package, and lard waiting to be melted. Every day I’m with Jack—that’s who I’m seeing now—he’s very aware and totally committed to self growth—I feel closer and closer to Ronald. We talked about two months ago and I never felt closer to anyone in my life. Not seeing each other is the best thing that could have happened to us. It has saved our love.
copyright © 2003 Donald Steele. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Four of Donald Steele’s one-act plays have been published by Samuel French: Life Support, Going to the Chapel, Mother’s Day, and The Way to Miami. The Way to Miami was also selected for publication by Applause Theatre Books in its anthology THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT PLAYS 1999-2000. Donald is a Fellow of The MacDowell Colony.