I am in love with being back in the South.
I moved to Nashville from Bainbridge Island and right now I’m in Little Rock where I just finished performing a solo theater piece at the Arkansas Repertory Theater.
In “An Evening with Rebecca Wells and the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” I’m performing from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. It’s like meeting old friends in a new way. As I revisit the material — some of it written over thirty years ago — I’m discovering themes in my life that continue to thread through my life. And I’m seeing them with new eyes.
Myself as a woman, as a daughter. My spirituality and the feminine face of God. I’m encountering what I thought I knew and discovering that I know so little.
I have loved and been loved. I’ve written four books, been married for almost a quarter of a decade, lived on a sheep arm on an island in Puget Sound, survived Lyme disease, become divorced, returned to theater which saved me in the first place. I was one of those kids in high school who stumbled onto theater and found a family. Lots of others like me who didn’t fit into other circles found ourselves and accepted ourselves while we painted sets, acted, wrote, and lit plays.
As I developed the show, I stayed in a house over-looking a huge park in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock. The tree limbs are bare and there are a million birds with so much color. I don’t know their names and I WANT TO. There is so much I want to know. I want to know how it is to live without fear. I want to know how it is to walk in gratitude.
In the first half of the show, I become Vivi, age 7, at a Shirley Temple Look-a-Like contest. Some of us may recall that the Ya-Yas were disqualified because Teensy pooted. In the second half I become Chaney, the African-American man who farmed with Sidda’s father at Pecan Grove. 1930s big band music, Leadbelly, and photos of the real live women who inspired the Ya-Yas. From the early 1930s to t 1990, the show opens up the world of the Ya-Yas, and I also open you to some of my world. Fiction and memoir blend. Nothing is a perfect category. There is no perfection. There are only beautiful broken human beings, all of us looking for the same thing. Love, compassion. Mercy. And Mercy will be on the stage with me all night. Literally. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named “Mercy” sits on her bed on stage in all her glory and Buddha-calm.
All this and more is the universe giving me.
I must take Mercy for a walk now and then we are getting in bed and I am going to meditate with Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mercy does not need to meditate with anybody. She is always meditating. She is always living in the moment. The moment so fresh, so fat, so you snooze, you lose.
So I will leave you on this February day with a list of injunctions only one of which the Ya-Yas obey. It was the entry for my birthday (which I spent driving from Nashville to Little Rock and having a grilled cheese at the Loretta Lynn Country Kitchen.)
Here you go.
“She must not swing her arms as though they were dangling ropes; she must not switch herself this way and that; she must not shout; and she must not, while wearing her bridal veil, smoke a cigarette.” –Emily Post
Hope you got a chance to see me in Little Rock. And keep an eye for what’s up next.