Last year, when the 30th anniversary of my friend Curtis’ death was coming up, I set out on a journey of healing, to clean out whatever vestiges of internal emotional and psychological damage that might be stopping me from living a full life today. I trusted that if I thought again about Curtis, I would learn something valuable about myself. And as a writer and artist, I knew that I would express myself in appropriate ways.

In this series for the Open to Hope Foundation, I’ve shared some writing that has flowed from recent conversations I’ve had. The writing has flowed in the form of poetry, monologues, short plays, and then scenes which became longer plays.

As the output continues to occur, I believe all the more what I always tell my playwrighting clients, and others who are seeking to heal from an emotional wounds: If you give yourself time and an outlet, the healing will come. I feel so refreshed, knowing that I am facing my fears and my past, in a safe manner, and that I can actually process any new information that I uncover from friends and family who knew Curtis.

Two months ago, as the 31st anniversary of his death approached, I wrote a letter to him as a means of furthering my healing. This sentence ended my very first paragraph: “You were my safe house.”

I returned to that phrase a day or so later when a poem poured out of me. I named it “Room” to signify that my friendship with him was something that I really depended on. I don’t know whether I could have understood this when I was a teen. Perhaps it took three decades of searching to be able to feel and express this inner truth.

I think also that the mind/body’s processors get damaged after an emotional or physical trauma, and they need time and distance to heal. Sometimes we don’t understand the obvious, and sometimes we do understand what seems inscrutable.

And so my message today is that we should always keep trying to move toward healing. Some things take years to understand, and that’s okay. I do believe that healing comes when we seek it even if it’s just moving toward acceptance of our own mortality.

Room

You were my safe house.

One skin, two hearts.

One home, two souls.

How could it last?

A body is fleeting

Immortality lasts only in the mind.

And one fragile shelter

Cannot stand forever.

Anne Hamilton, © May 2, 2010 All rights reserved

Anne Hamilton is an award-winning Columbia University graduate and the Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy. Anne’s plays ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT and THE STACY PLAY “ A LOVE SONG” VOLUME I are now showing in TRANSITIONS, a juried virtual exhibit at Pen and Brush in New York City  (www.penandbrush.org) through September 3rd. To ask Anne for help on developing your own play, screenplay, poetry, fiction or non-fiction, please contact her at hamiltonlit@gmail.com

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Anne Hamilton

Anne Hamilton is an NYC-based freelance dramaturg and the Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy, an international consultancy. She created Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow!, where she hosts and produces an oral history podcast series of important theatre women working in America. Anne has dramaturged for Andrei Serban, Michael Mayer, Lynn Nottage, NYMF, Niegel Smith, Classic Stage Company, and the Great Plains Theatre Festival, among others. She is also an award-winning playwright. Her chapter, “Freelance Dramaturgs in the 21st Century: Journalists, Advocates, and Collaborators” appears in The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy. She was a Bogliasco Foundation Fellow, won the Dean’s Prize for Dramaturgy at Columbia University School of the Arts, and holds dual citizenship in Italy and the United States. Anne lost her best friend Curtis in a head-on car accident in 1979, two weeks after his high school graduation. Her emotional life became frozen and she has spent the last thirty-two years exploring all areas of self-expression, particularly through stage plays, poetry, theatre, art, and music. She is currently developing her own chamber-play-with-dance entitled ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, about the way that grief moves through the body.

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