One of my favorite things is conversation. Whether I’m in the conversation, or just in a room full of friends who are talking (or debating), conversations make me feel at home. They ground me. They challenge me. They help me stay hopeful when my logic urges otherwise.
Yesterday, an exceptional phrase tumbled into a casual telephone conversation and continued to be pleasantly distracting for the rest of the day.
Avery Bateman, who graduated from Coker College in 2011, was telling me about the play “In the Red and Brown Water,” which opens tonight in Columbia. Avery plays the lead.
Although our chat was short, she told me quite a bit about the play (I even know the ending). Avery says the production is creative and warm and sharp, a really fine work. It is poetry and myth. It is movement and rhythm. It is the ancient gods, and it is life in the projects for a 17-year-old track star. It is ambition and choices and blindness.
But the phrase that Avery threw out to me, and that toyed with me all day, was about the play’s setting. Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney set his work in the “distant present,” she said.
When and where is that?
Is that a when, or is it a where? Is it some barely touchable version of today? The distant present might be a morning dream, a gauzy curtain that I push aside without thinking but which falls back into view again and again.
I know Avery is a talent. I’ve seen her perform. But yesterday’s conversation revealed something more. She wanted me to know about tonight’s stage production – and I can’t wait to see it – but through her vocabulary and pitch and timing, she drew me into the story. She made me comfortable and eager to learn.
Before she let me go, I asked her what cookies I should make for today. What cookie could represent the connection she feels with tonight’s play?
I am happy to say that she chose oatmeal raisin cookies, which, she said, bring home to mind, like the play presses home to her heart.
Whether you find home in a place, a feeling, or in loved ones, I hope today’s cookies remind you that this Friday’s “distant present” is worthy of your finest imagination.
Come and get ’em!