1. The most exciting game of your life.
You live in a basement apartment.
They call it a garden apartment.
When it comes down to it, it’s a fucking basement.
It feels very Freudian// in a bad way//to be living in a basement.
You don’t know this yet//About Freud. About basements.
This is not your first garden apartment.
Since she’s died – you’ve had three.
It is the most lovely garden apartment you’ve had.
It has a tub and a shower and new cute cabinets and no light.
You have this bed.
The bed was your best friend Kara and her douchey frat boyfriends’ bed before//and before that it was your rich friend from Highland Parks’.
// This bed is full of ghosts of people I’ve never fucked//
Next to you in your ghost bed is your partner//they are lying next to you only in theory.
//psychically you are alone//
Too late on a weeknight//a thick blind panic arrives//a recurring guest star//every appearance
a surprise and delight.
You open all of the windows in the house, over-saging the two rooms your tiny apartment//not crying//not screaming//but padding around with no fucking clothes on like a blind rat trapped in a maze might//waving the sage wand manically//a tragic torch in basement wilderness
holding random crystals in your claw.
//You make tea.
You do not let your partner hold you.
You do not let them kiss you//
This is not the first time they have awoken to this
They ask if I want to see someone
Literally, I don’t.
A mattress on the floor.
Similar Feeling State.
He is molding found objects with canning pectin in the next room, his latest infatuation// we just bought them all out of it at the Jewel.
He comes in to grab something out of the room. A paintbrush. An exacto knife.
I am curled as close to the corner of the edge of the mattress and the crook of the wall//as close I can//the cold plaster touches the small of my back//he speaks to me and speaks to me and I can’t answer//I silently cry, my body shaking//I don’t let him touch me, but turn away and become smaller//
This is not the first time he has found me like this.
He tells me he thinks it might be helpful if I see someone.
It won’t be.
2. It’s Time to Press your Luck
Morgan McNaught is a 22-year-old from Eugene, Oregon working in Children’s Theatre. Morgan is currently grieving the death of their mother.
Spend all of your cash inheritance
Start an inappropriate relationship with a high-schooler and act like it’s totally FINE you’re not that many years apart
Begin to drink and drive across town with the windows rolled down to keep yourself sober the rock station turned up to keep you awake//a copper penny in your mouth to get rid of the smell on your breath in case you get pulled over.
Take Xanax for any reason at all. The sun is out. The sun is not out. You’re bored. You can’t afford a pizza.
Bartend at a strip club until you realize on Halloween that if the beautiful fucking mummy stripping bandages is making no money, you’re fucked
Begin an inappropriate relationship with your best friends’ boyfriend//You and his girlfriend can star in the short film he makes about it//featuring you on a storyboard under sheet in their bed and he asks you on set if you don’t mind taking your shirt off right in front of her//you do it
Buy weird pills from high schoolers. Take them. See what happens.
Quit your corporate makeup job with no job lined up//start dating a sceney rock dude who bartends at a private bar and gets tipped out in coke//stay drunk for days at a time until one weekend during Pitchfork you go too far and end up with the shakes puking in his bathtub while his best friends’ girlfriend holds back your hair and he sees how hard you can’t party.
Watch Care Bears II every night as you fall asleep.
Watch all of your taped from TV episodes of The Twilight Zone your stepdad made you.
Write a to-do manual to help other people figure out their lives.
Spend a lot of time wandering the aisles of Target because it feels like home.
Call your sister four times a day.
Become a radical vegan activist
Move in with a roommate who clearly hates your fucking guts and spend three years trying to get her to like you.
Weep. Just weep. At people you know. At strangers. In front of the Aveda you work at in the Hancock Building. In your partner’s bed. Wherever.
Become an open wound.
3. No Whammies.
I told my therapist that I loved my dead mother for at least two years.
I told her how beautiful it had been when she had died. How I took a leave from work and we were all home together. How my sister and I laid in bed with my mom snuggling and laughing and watching Ellen and Hilary Duff movies.
//How she had apologized//How she wanted me to be happy//How she was kind.
I was afraid to talk about my smallness. My hunger for love. Afraid of where it hurt and how she hurt me.
I talk about good things. Art classes and book reading and museum visiting and ballet going. Things that proved she loved me.
This was what I told my therapist.
Being happy when she died was a secret I wanted to take to the grave.
4. If you do that the little devil comes out
Waking up at 6AM to my mother manically making blintzes//filling the kitchen with hundreds of crepes to be filled//every surface covered with plates//a moment of joy before the storm.
The Virgin of Guadalupe statue she bought for my sister and me while she was still alive//they were for my sister’s 18th birthday – instead we get them a week before on the morning of her death.
My mom sitting in a kitchen chair, sneaking a Kahlua when I came in too stoned from a party, in high school//she was so wrapped up in shame and guilt that I caught her drinking//she doesn’t notice my glassy eyes
Chichen Itza on the spring solstice watching the snake move down the temple
Square Dancing Class with Turkey in the Straw, allemande left, split the center
The sound of her feet or his feet on the stairs heading down into the basement
The blue room//the white curtains moving in the summer breeze and a feeling of dread and fear
Her seeing me in Schoolhouse Rock every single week at the community theater – giving me a gift every single time.
Every mall parking lot ever//how she reminds me how much I don’t love her and how ungrateful I am and then buys me whatever I want because she will feel bad by the time we get into Dillard’s
Christmas morning meltdown by 10AM like clockwork
The manifestation list you found in your baby book of the kind of person she wanted to be and the wish for god to bring her a baby girl to adopt and love
The three thousand six hundred and fifty days you have spent lying to yourself//punishing yourself//being rough with yourself//not seeing your own sun.
5. The Returning Champion
I live in that now. An attic. Huxley’s Answer to Freud’s Basement. Associated with Love. Altruism. Artistic and Scientific Creativity or Genius. Oneness of Nature and Spiritual Vision.
And that’s pretty cool. Because I feel these ways now. Not all the time. But more often than not.
I tell my therapist the actual truth now. I work on forgiveness.
I work on actually loving and caring for myself like I might a tiny child or perfect kitten.
I keep circle with goddesses. I eat food. I take long walks with my dog even when I don’t want to.
I pray. For courage. For peace. For love.
I sleep in a bed all night mostly but sometimes the couch because change, well, is really fucking slow.
Morgan McNaught is an experience-maker with a lot of feelings and thoughts. They love collaborating with other smart/talented/challenging humans to explore and examine them, put them into words, shapes, images sounds, aromas to create theatrical experiences that cultivate and engage imagination and investigate identity.
They are an ensemble member at The New Colony who produced their first full length play The Terrible, an iteration of their short play, The Terrible Magic of Gertrude Lazarus. They have written plays for the Victory Gardens One Minute Play Festival and First Floor Theater’s Lit Fest , Queer Ill and Okay and with Walkabout and Redtape Theater as well. They have performed at or with the Steppenwolf Garage, The Goodman, Chicago Dramatists, Victory Gardens, The Hypocrites, Pavement Group, About Face, The New Colony, The Guild Literary Complex, Red Tape Theater, and The Actors Theatre Columbus.
Morgan is a founding member of Swarm Artist Residency as well as a teaching artist and new play development leader at The New Colony and a dope ass witch.