Hello! Hooray!

Hello! Hooray!
Let the show begin
I’m ready
Hello! Hooray!
Let the lights grow dim
We’ve been ready
(Rolf Kempf)

Here I am, Shakespeare’s ‘poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.’ I am waiting for the curtain to rise, and I am both excited and apprehensive.

When you attend the theatre, the audience waits impatiently for that curtain to rise, eager to be entertained, to watch the Play. Speaking as the actor, waiting for that curtain to rise, I am eager to find out what the Play is.

I’m to leave the Midwest and return to the East Coast—a different part this time, but ‘home’. One of the truisms that has been passed around many PTSD chatrooms is ‘it is hard to trust when all you have is evidence from the past of why you shouldn’t.’ I can verify the validity of that cliché. Someone is taking me in and helping get me established.

I chose to leave the East Coast in 2012 because an old friend made promises I believed and she never kept. My situation deteriorated drastically; in 2015 I accepted the invitation of another old friend to move South. I was in sincere fear for my safety much of the time I was there, and after two months fled back to the Midwest, even though I knew I didn’t belong here. I had nowhere else to go.

I’ve spent seven homeless months in a motel room, with few people to talk to for much of that time. My world has twisted, evolved, and dwindled. With every move, more of myself has disappeared, and I’m not at all the person I was when all this started over five years ago. During those last seven months, I’ve thought and thought about my life, and life in general. I’ve discovered new strengths, or perhaps merely resigned myself to unpleasant truths some would consider strengths.

I’ve learnt to make half a pint of blueberries, or a single doughnut, suffice for breakfast, and marvelled at the effect of a steady diet of microwave dinners has on one’s interior. With complete lack of support from the State, I can’t get food, or treatment for my PTSD, or help from the social worker who was once assigned to me. Through it all, I often wondered how I would eat or pay for this hotel room. Life has seemed like a dull television series in which each week, we found out how the hero would manage this time. Mysteriously, I have managed, a feat for which I can take no credit.

I’ve learnt about friends. The best friends are usually the quietest. An appeal for charity (which was a blow to my pride to make) netted a few cheques, mostly from people I didn’t know. There was one cheque that came from someone I have always admired but not heard from in years, so whatever the dollar amount was, it was only an iota of the gift’s true worth to me. The quietly offered couch on which to sleep, the small bag of bread and fruit, and a modest, ‘Don’t mention it.’ These are the gifts of friends.

New friends, genuine people, have emerged, many of them with backgrounds and stories similar to mine. Camaraderie is a gift of friends.

Some people will say it’s enough to have survived the experience. It isn’t enough. Rocks survive. They don’t feel, they aren’t expected to thrive, love, create, appreciate, or reproduce. I’ve learnt many times that a human being is not a rock, a human being MUST thrive and grow to retain even the smallest quality of his/her humanity.

Well, Shakespeare says ‘The Play is the thing.’ I’m waiting for the curtain to rise so I can find out if this Play is a comedy or a tragedy, or a tale ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’

All the world is a stage.

Paul TN Chapman
[email protected]
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