Juli was visiting me on my island, because I was launching a book of plays. She came up to hear the readings. After the event, she and her friend and the actors were sitting in the room with the cupboard. Juli was impressed by the hand-painted, blue hydrangea bouquets—all seven of them—four large ones on the two doors and three smaller ones on the three drawers. And the eight, hand-painted, miniature bouquets on the eight enamel knobs. And especially the seven painted, wooden cutouts that were mounted in the center of the bouquets on the doors and drawers… adding a third dimension and a third hydrangea.
She was impressed by the hydrangeas and said so. “Just wait,” I said as I crossed to the cupboard and flung open the doors. The interior was hand-painted green like the tender shoots of the crocus that have been subversively growing under a pile of dead leaves, and which, when first uncovered, appear with a waxy, death-like pallor, but in a day will turn resilient yellow-green to meet the April sun. The interior of the doors were painted with four large hydrangea bouquets. Juli was astonished. “That’s a commitment!” she exclaimed. And we all nodded. It was the perfect, the exact word, and only a woman who stands beside everything would have thought of it.
People will say that my plays are amateur, they are kitsch, they are rants, they are propaganda. They will say this for a long time. People will be above them or below them. And then they will start to examine them more closely, comparing them to each other. Obviously, they cannot all be the same. One can only paint a painting once. Over and over, yes, but only one at a time. And they will stop being surprised and annoyed that the interior is painted as carefully as the exterior. And after the indifference, the dismissal, the indulgence, the curiosity, the secret admiration that sours like milk left out on the counter, and possibly the adulation—after all this, exhausted by their own opinions, they will arrive at what Juli saw in the first instance: There is a commitment that cannot be refuted. It is a thing sacred unto itself, and even the artist may not understand it.
So who will direct our attention to the things that matter, now? What can I do, Juli, but what I have always done? I will write another play, another hydrangea bouquet… except that now it’s a little easier and a little less lonely, because you have given me a word for it, and that word gives me strength.