Halfway Out of the Dark

Sorry I’ve been away. I love writing for this site, but sometimes one needs to step back and take a few deep breaths for a week.

Grief is a funny thing.

The stretch of November through January has historically been very hard for me, mental health-wise. It gets darker out earlier, finals season begins at school, and bad things just seem to happen more often this time of year. Never was it worse than November of 2017, though.  Two of my friends, Emma and Tammy, passed away suddenly, a week apart from each other. To cope, I saw SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical to cheer myself up, but that was about all I did. A year later, the sudden closing announcements for my beloved Head Over Heels, Torch Song, Once on this Island, and Summer came as the anniversary of my losses passed. This time, I didn’t have a SpongeBob to go to for forgetting my troubles for a few hours. (Never you mind I couldn’t even make time to see any of my other comfort shows - The Band’s Visit or HOH or The Prom - in my time of grief. School and work got in the way.)

I don’t particularly deal well with the death of people who matter to me. Even a few weeks before the anniversary of my two friends passing, I would lie awake at ungodly hours of the night, crying into my pillow as I mourned for them. Coupling that with the closing announcement bloodbath and the passing of Hillenburg, SpongeBob SquarePants’ creator, a week later was a very, very tough pill to swallow. The week of November 27th was my personal week from hell, and I felt pretty hopeless about so much all at once.

A week later, life stayed bittersweet. December 4th marked a week since the sudden passing of Hillenburg, and exactly a year since SpongeBob opened at the Palace Theatre. If you’ve read my article, “SpongeBob: A Testimonial,” you know how much that delightful sponge means to me. A year later and the Palace is empty, but it still has all that yellow and blue signage. I get sad every time I walk through Times Square, knowing that house is closed and the vibrant show that once pulsed within has been gone for three months.

The past week, thank goodness, has been a lot better. With some approval from fellow Hillenburg mourner Tina Landau, I wrote a short playwriting scene about SpongeBob and Patrick dealing with the loss of Stephen Hillenburg to cope, which did help.

Even so, it’s still pretty hard to handle so many of my favorite people losing their jobs at the start of the new year, as well as the aftershocks of losing the man responsible for one of the greatest sources of joy in my lifetime.

As finals season begins for me and the semester draws to a close, I’m hopeful that the rest of the year is better for me. And I hope that going forward, my writing (for your entertainment and enjoyment) continues to blossom from my fingertips and onto this wonderful website. The happy memories of my friends who passed and the joy that rewatching old SpongeBob episodes brings will be beacons to guide me through the end of the semester. And once we get to the December solstice, I will be both figuratively and literally, halfway out of the dark.

(Image from Nickelodean.)