By Ana Bess

Yesterday I arrived in Santa Cruz, the sun shone in my squinted eyes, and a salty breeze patted my face. Some day’s life looks like this. Picturesque, illuminated, with a warm breeze. Thoughts ran through my head on the drive down from San Francisco. While the smell of eucalyptus wafted in my window they bounced around inside of me. A conversation earlier in the day reminded me of that helpless feeling. I thought, “Who am I to write this? Will it even help? What if someone else dies? This is too big. What if I can’t do it? What if they hate it? What if I hurt someone?”


As Jess and I sat on the bed last night a breeze blew in the sliding glass door, the dogs barked outside, and the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. We talked of characters, real and imagined. We talked of family and friends. Those lost to addiction and those saved by rehab, spirituality, passion, and art. The hair on our arms stood on edge while we named each character of the play and how accurately pieces of them mirrored those from our lives. While I reflected on my life, I realized so much of it has been soaked with addiction, illness, and death.


Life can be so unbearably sad and desperate sometimes.


Jess has a knack for comedy. While writing one of the scenes last night on stools in the kitchen, she blurted out a line that brought us into a fit of laughter. As we riffed on this theme we doubled over. It was so silly. And yet I think more than anything our bodies needed a release. I laughed and laughed until my cheeks hurt.


Today we worked on the beach and giggled as the water rose to touch our toes. Jess’ five-month-old daughter is here with us on this journey, she is a memento of life. Her laughter is a constant reminder of innocence. An expression of that piece inside of us that just needs to be held. To be told that everything will be ok. Nourished. Kissed. And glanced at with love.


This process is harder than I imagined.


Today marks the one-year anniversary of another friend lost. All I can do in these moments is channel everything into the creation of this play. Into these characters, into their dialogue, their wellbeing and downfalls, into creating lightness to accompany the darkness. Otherwise it’s too much to hold. There is too much hurt here. My heart has crevices, so tender. Please don’t touch me there.


But that’s the work right? To sit in the muck of it and still feel the rays of sunshine upon your face. To laugh through hot tears. To find humor in the darkest cracks of discomfort. To create from the mess of life.


To create from the mess of life.


To create from the mess of life.