I took this photo of Edward backstage on the eve of his 84th birthday during Lady From Dubuque at the Signature Theatre. This little essay I originally shared with my parents and close friends, but it feels right to share here now:
Today I brought Edward Albee 10 lemon poppyseed muffins.
Whenever he visited rehearsals, Edward always seemed to enjoy my baking. And each time I could not help wrapping up a few extras for him to take home, as he is so thin and everything about him triggers my mother instincts.....I'm sure if I told him that, he would be horrified. He is such a supremely independent individual.
On his 84th birthday he told me lemon poppyseed muffins were his favorite, and so yesterday I called him up, as I had promised that I would some day. He answered his phone on the first ring. I told him I had found a good recipe. We scheduled our meeting for today at 11.
His apartment in Tribeca is like a museum...hundreds of African sculptures and modern art paintings on the wall...he invited me to look at everything and so I wandered around, soaking it in, while he heated up a cup of coffee for me.
We sat down for a visit. Just a little chit chat. No big deal. We just talked about life and death and God and the afterlife, and man's true nature and identity, and art and consciousness and other playwrights. He was interested in my work with the prisoners and I was interested in how he took care of his longtime partner, during his year of dying, and we talked about what it is to be a true support to someone in their hour of need. Nothing deep. :)
Edward is an agnostic and I believe in God. So we definatley look at life from different perspectives. But, I think, it was challenging, respectful and interesting to us both. (Although, I'm sure he thinks, ultimately, I am a naive girl needing the crutch of God because I'm afraid to die.) But that's ok. I feel I held my own. :)
Anyway. It was such a sweet morning and I'm grateful I called him and followed through. Jane is the one who encouraged me. She said anyone who is 84 loves company. Im glad she inspired me to follow through on my instinct.
As he took me downstairs, we paused at his beautiful big window overlooking the new World Trade Centers that are being built. I asked him if he saw 9/11 happen, if he had been in town, and he said yes. He went to his rooftop and watched the whole thing. He said, "When you've had as much life experience as I have you dont shy away from it when it is happening." And I said, "Well I suppose it's the least one can do...to at least be the witness..." It somehow felt right to me, that an artist and writer like Edward, would have seen that event happen, so close up...that he would have been one of the witnesses.
I told him I would call on him again, to bring him more baked goods and he smiled and said that would be lovely. I'm grateful I had the experience of today.