We St. Louisans have always been a little nuts about Tennessee Williams. We all covet our own stories which relate to him. For myself, it’s a double-whammy: My father lived near to one of Williams’ boyhood apartments, though not at the same time; and I once directed a truncated version of The Glass Menagerie. Put aside that he occupies a grave in the same cemetery as my parents and my father’s kin, including my great-grandmother Corinne Hahn Hayes for whom I am named.
I chose The Glass Menagerie when I got a chance to direct in high school because I relate to Laura, the forlorn daughter of the missing father and desperate, scheming mother. She comes across as frail and pretty; shy and welcoming. Her legs do not work properly, due to some mysterious ailment which isn’t quite explained, probably polio. She suffers from pleurisy, which also plagues me. I think of her as a romantic version of my crabby self.
But I have been told that I’m more like Blanche Dubois in Streetcare Named Desire, depending on the kindness of strangers and a little pathetic at that. Perhaps so, perhaps so. I suppose her cloying, slightly demented nature combined with her shrewish whine prompts the comparison. Certainly I have no enviable beauty. Most apt of all qualities, my proclivity to rely on the kindness of strangers validates the comparison to this least desirable of Mr. Williams’ women.
When I arrived at home yesterday, Davin came out of the kiosk at the gate to tender two packages. I knew them to likely contain chair cushions that I ordered in my maniacal quest to improve the seating in my tiny house. We talked for a few moments, mostly about his mother’s recent medical scare. I have a special tenderness in my heart for only sons. Then Davin loaded the boxes in my car and I drove away, cautiously, holding my speed to the demanded five miles per hour especially given the rising sound of children playing nearby.
I paused again adjacent to the swimming pool to wave to Christina, who tarried in a chair beneath an umbrella. I called to her, Watcha doin’, girl? and saw the broad smile rise on her face. Getting cool! came the answer. I waggled my fingers and turned back to the road, to the crunch of gravel under the tires and the fluttering hummingbird which tarried near my windshield. I waited for the tiny critter to pass before proceeding.
At the house, I studied the boxes, determining that I should open them where they sat. I could have asked my neighbor to carry them into the house. I certainly might have lugged them myself. They did not seem heavy. But then I would have to haul the packaging back outside for transport to the recycle bin. I find it best not to needlessly accumulate belongings since I occupy 198 square feet (slightly more, when measured vertically). I strive to limit my possessions to no more than bare necessities.
Indeed, the boxes contained cushions, one of which seemed different than the picture suggested. I must be used to disappointments, because I hoisted the lot onto my shoulder and started toward the house. Just before I reached the porch, I encountered the hummingbird again. I had no doubt that it was the same creature. I fancy that I’ve learned to distinguish the markings of the small beings which frequent the park, like the jays which feast on my peanuts and the starlings which chatter overhead. I studied the bird as it hovered near the door, then watched it flit away, bound for my neighbors’ feeder — for sweeter pastures, and more tender ministrations than I provide. I watched until I could not see it against the dazzle of the mid-day sun, and then went into the house with my burden.
It’s the first day of the fifty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.