El beaterío.Posted: July 14, 2012
On the eve of my birthday, I had a series of marvelous dreams. In one, a band of young women played my favorite Kiran Ahluwalia song for me and moved me to tears*; in the next, my theater company made a short film about inventing a game of nude tag (which, if you know my theater company, is very much in character); in the next, I watched a brilliant production at a school for the arts called Right Coulum High, sitting in the front row while an improv comedian sucked on my earlobe. That was nice.
I’d decided to treat myself to a nice guesthouse for my stay in Santo Domingo. It’s called El Beaterío. It was built around 1520 as a sanctuary for women seeking the contemplative life. There are mysterious paw prints on the flagstones in my room. There is a single thick candle in the corner. I keep it burning all night.
For my birthday, I wandered around the colonial quarter of Santo Domingo, where Columbus, Cortès, and Drake all dwelled and plundered. I’d thought of giving myself a day off of writing, but that distinction is artificial—work is pleasure to me, so why deny myself pleasure on my birthday? So I sat in the shade of the ruins of Monastario de San Francisco, and then on the ancient ramparts overlooking the Río Ozama, and then at a table in the Parque Colón with some frozen passionfruit juice, and worked a little more on my play each time. I can’t tell if what I’m writing is brilliant or rubbish. In a way, it doesn’t even matter.
Tonight I go to bed for the last time in my convent chamber. I’m thirty-one years old and my life is exactly what I want it to be. I’ll dream of art, and then wake, and make art again.
*She starts singing at 4:50. I love turning this song up and dancing around my living room!