My daughter pointed out to me this morning that she and I seem to live in different towns sometimes. I see the other artists and writers in town, and my fellow parents-- carpenters, shop owners, health care workers, sometimes even that near-extinct species the commercial fisherman. She works at The Art House http://www.ptownarthouse.com/, a cabaret theatre that shows everyone from string quartets to broadway singers to the venerable drag queen Varla Jean Merman.
Long after I'm asleep she's mopping the stage, setting the ghost light, and heading home among the phantasmagoria of the late summer night in a gay resort. Last night as she passed the men lined up outside the Governor Bradford, where Ryan Landry's Showgirls was playing, an older man turned out in a classic floor-length silk gown and a pert black wig wafted out onto his porch and called across the street to a friend, to say he'd be over as soon as he had finished putting on his face. If only Tennessee Williams had been here!
Meanwhile I'm always imagining back to one historical moment or another-- whaling, or the days when the railroad ran right to the end of MacMillan Wharf, and legions of women in white disembarked with their parasols and their paintbrushes. Seeing the cottage pictured here, I could so clearly imagine the time when the town was a clean-scrubbed vacation resort and fishing village, men in belted khakis and slicked hair, wives in cotton dresses, laundry hanging in the sea air to dry.
So, while Marisa's imaginary Provincetown and mine overlap, they are very different. But they are both imaginary, set along a street that seems to have been conceived as a stage set, inhabited by men and women who know that they are acting their parts in a drama both great and mundane. Everyone has his or her own private P-town, and you can feel all those worlds overlapping. It's a wonderful cozy feeling (if insular and claustrophobic at times). And every glimpse leads into another life-- yes, a fictionalized life, realized when one imagination is focussed on a moment in someone else's real life. I think that part of the greatness of A Streetcar Named Desire is that feeling of lives layered together on a hot, crowded street. It's also part of the pleasure of life in Ptown.