Moments of Surrender


Last night, I arrived home late and tired from a Playwrights West meeting; so I had a difficult awakening. Running late and taking a later bus. Predictably, it filled up. I took one of the benches toward the rear. Across from me, an older man with white hair and eyebrows, huge glasses, umbrella with a flashlight in the handle. Beside him, a sleeping man maybe ten years younger than his bus companion, leather jacket over dress slacks. Next to me, a woman in her thirties, impeccably groomed, reading magical realism by a Latino writer, and, standing in front of me, a very young woman with wet hair and wearing a puffy white and brown blouson jacket, stumbling as she attempted to text. (Who was receiving at this early hour?)

And me, listening to U2’s “No Line on the Horizon”–sliding in and out of consciousness as though on a morphine drip. As the song “Moment of Surrender” neared its climax, we crossed the Ross Island Bridge, and the lights of the city spread into view, their lights reflecting on a blue-black Willamette River as Bono sang:

I was speeding on the subway
Through the stations of the cross
Every eye looking every other way
Counting down ’til the pain would stop
At the moment of surrender
Of vision over visibility
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me

And so we crossed our river, arriving at our individual days: the man with a flashlight in his umbrella, the businessman not entirely comfortable in his uniform, the woman carrying Latino magical images beneath her professionalism, the girl furiously texting to someone waiting to receive. And me, here now, bearing a memory of reflected lights.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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