I don’t need to tell any of you that 2014 was appalling in countless ways. That said, it was also the year that Satchmo at the Waldorf came to New York and ran off Broadway for four wonderful months. In the larger scheme of things, I suppose that event must go under the heading of being thankful for small favors. To me, though, it was a grand and glorious thing for which I will forever after be unimaginably grateful to my irreplaceable collaborators, as well as to Mrs. T, without whose steadfast and inspiring love I would never have been able to summon up sufficient nerve to try my hand at writing anything so unlikely as a play.
And now…what? Well, the following posting first appeared in this space on January 1, 2013. Two years later, I can’t put it any better.
* * *
A year ago today I was with Mrs. T on Sanibel Island. I’d just learned that my mother was dying, and I was doing my best to come to terms with the knowledge. A week later I got a call from Massachusetts informing me that Shakespeare & Company had decided to produce my first play. In the months that followed, I got a Guggenheim Fellowship, drove down Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego, spent five weeks at the MacDowell Colony, saw Satchmo at the Waldorf produced by three regional theaters, made four new friends, finished writing the greater part of Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, and stood by my mother’s open grave. No matter what 2013 turns out to be like, it won’t be like that. It couldn’t.
I brought 2012 to a close yesterday by writing the first three thousand words of the antepenultimate chapter of Duke. A year from now, barring some unthinkable catastrophe, Duke will be in print and I’ll have seen a hundred more shows. Beyond that, I’ve no idea what to expect. I don’t know what my next book will be, or whether Satchmo will have a life after its most recent closing night. I know where I’ll be for the next six weeks…and that’s all.
Is it enough? It’d better be.
I once quoted in this space the following words of Ogden Nash. It seems fitting to repeat them today:
Come, children, gather round my knee;
Something is about to be.
Tonight’s December Thirty-First,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark! It’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year.
To all of you who, like me, suspect that chance is in the saddle and rides mankind, I hope that the year to come treats you not unkindly, and that your lives, like mine, will be warmed by hope and filled with love.