Thursday, December 20, 2012

So what are we going to do?


The candle is still burning

Martin is meeting with director Lee Breuer of Mabou Mines when I arrive. They’ve been hashing out Martin’s vision for his Antigone. Lee says, not easy, but possible..... As Mabou Mines has to leave PS122, there is interest in West-Park.

After that discussion, Martin is intent. So what are we going to do? What?
I make clear that there are two job  descriptions. One, the set ups, the cleaning, the making things ready, that’s relatively easy. But the other, the human relations management, the theatre people wrangling, the advocacy for the homeless and marginalized, the management of the steps and all that involves, the calming of crazy souls....sorry. Don’t know where to begin. 

He looks at me. OK, we know where to begin. I’ll be back to you.

Actually, I realize, my Occupy chaplains are trained. Battle tested and ready to roll. But it’s always so can’t exactly say crazy people, please show up between these hours and you can’t just keep people on call. And even seminary students deserve to be paid. 

Stephen has been up since 6 AM managing the Comedy Central shoot.  All seems to be running smoothly.

Except no one has checked the steps. I find a large man with long hair and wide wild eyes sprawled on the steps. Large bags of food surrounding him. I’m sorry sir, you can’t be here during the day. You’re going to have to move. 
He looks up at me with burning eyes. My church, my church... he says, and after that, nothing more. Well, not exactly, I say, more like mine, but there are still rules... try different ways of opening up a conversation.No luck.  No response.

I feel the frustration mounting. Goddamn it Teddy, where are you? I need you. 

As I’m contemplating this, I see Anna and puppy approaching. She asks what’s up? I tell her. She tries striking up a conversation. No response.Maybe he doesn’t speak English... She tries speaking Spanish, worse than my multiple accents in the same sentence  version.  Anna, I could do that, I think. I need coffee. If he’s not gone by the time  get back, I’m calling 911, I say. Anna tries translating that into Spanish and I walk off. Pure frustration. 

And head to Barney Greengrass, for coffee. Back outside, I see little change so call 911. Go through the typical dance.  OK, EMT’s on their way. When I’m fully back, I see that Anna has engaged him. Got him moving. He’s starting to move. Amazing. When he’s got his stuff, he steps off the stairs. And standing up, seems less wild eyed, calmer, he seems more normal. 

What’s your name? she asks.
Michael he says. And as he starts through his litany of loss, I hear the sound of a Cali/Mex accent. Of leaving California to find his wife, stranded on Staten Island, EMT visit to St.Luke’s Roosevelt where they lost his ID and...cops won’t help, churches won’t help,  just wants to get back to California.  And I’m looking for Teddy again. 

He begins gathering up his stuff and Anna spots a bag of food and says, Say do you want all of that? He shakes his head begins to walk away. So, I can have some?  She heads for his open bag. He offers his food to her.  Say, what’s your name? she asks.

Michael, he replies. And talks about the distributorship he ran with his brother. And losing it all. And what is my name? Bob I say. When he’s sure that there was nothing more to come here, he starts off. Waves and says, thanks anyways. You saw me. And we wish him well. 

There’s stuff remaining to clean up. Anna’s back....I go inside look for my broom and long handled dust pan. Nowhere to be seen. Damn it, chaos will takeover. Danielle finds both, quietly hands them to me. I’m outside on the steps sweeping. Just where I began. I look at Anna. Realize that I couldn’t have done this without her. And smile. As she shifts from grounded to full speed  criminal gang conspiracy report mode. And I sweep.

There’s a tour to lead. Another school. As we hit RL's room, he comes out. Offers to have Poet Tim read. Offers as I’m an alright guy even though he’s a Christian. Encourages them to give generously. Tells them he’s there to contribute to the restoration of the building,  none of that religious stuff. As they look at each other incredulous, inside I am chuckling. 

The St. Agnes boys have arrived. No Teddy to direct them. Danielle has arrived and gives them a list of tasks. 

I go upstairs to visit RL. He can’t get through it without breaking up, so has Poet Tim read his poem about Teddy. Just as he recited it to me at the Gate. Only better. And then  goes to the poems that they just rediscovered. Dating back to 1954. On an old floppy disc. One a clever poem about a drinker of Paul Bunyan proportions including a contest with the devil decade before Charlie Daniels  in a jaunty rhyming meter and one about a lost first love with all the romantic anguish teenage love brings. It is good to have him here.

It’s time to go visit Rachel. And Martin, I still don't know....just don't know...

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