Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Haunting Joy

This is a memoir piece by a student in response to a prompt asking about joy. This student, Donna Stapf, went with a strong memory that popped up in response to the prompt, as soon as her pen hit the paper. It just poured out.

As always, this is rough draft, not edited. Enjoy the pure energy of this piece. In particular I love her contemplations about the haunting quality of joy. Asking about the difference between highs - joy - celebration - happiness. In particular, I appreciated (as a former theater person) her analogy for a relationship: paralleling it to the acts of a play.

Donna Stapf 
I see myself as a sophomore at UW in Bascom Hall, 2nd floor, outside the door to one of the theater department offices.  Door closed--dark inside--hall empty--the list is posted on the door: “Juno and the Paycock” by Sean O’Casey  Cast List:  Juno…..Donna Stapf.  Heat and tingling rushes through my body.  My stomach is doing somersaults with joyful nausea.  All is silent ‘cept my heart banging beats.  
I look for the role of Mrs. Maisie Madigan and follow my finger along the dots to who is cast.  No it isn’t my name.  Maisie is a great character role, who sings a spirited song in act II.  That’s the role I auditioned for, showing off my Irish brogue by singing a Scottish song from “Brigadoon,” anything to get a laugh.  Juno?  Juno!  Electrical impulses roll like waves over my body.  Light-headed, I float down Bascom Hill to Selery Hall.  

Fast forward………I have moments of excitement when I receive promising comments:  “You’d be great for this part, this job…”   Or the guys who inject me with butterflies on the first kiss.   I think those kisses, few and far between, have promise.  Now I know a power surge of sexual energy is just that--a surge--memorable but brief.  Still,  I remember the sensation.  I can put words to the moments.  And only because I can recall the words with my mind, do I know in my heart and soul that I experienced all the sensations of a kiss, hollow foreplay, rehearsal, act III climax, applause--I--I--ah,ah,ah--ooh baby it feels so good--her performance evoked tears, laughter, awe--elation.

There are ten occasions--bundles of joy: 2 nieces, 3 nephews, 2 great nieces, 3 great nephews. “Don’t tell people it’s your great niece,” says my friend Diane, who has knocked four years off her own age.  “But the “great” is what makes it especially special,” I say.  

All those times I’ve left a party, a date, a meeting, an interview --so high--I call Diane, my mom and dad, my sister….until I am talked out--still excited--oh the endless possibilities--I can’t stand it--where’s the cork screw--just one glass--take the edge off.  So many times, my high has been shattered with no call, no response, no interest at this time---joyous times that haunt me.

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