05/22/2012 11:53 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

One Is the Loneliest Number

Letting go is never easy. Moving on isn't easy either. But the monkey is finally facing facts, and putting the pieces back together.


MONKEY BUSINESS by Tony Asaro (Composer/Librettist)

But like, I soooo don't get it! Things were going really well. Like really well. We were totally on the same page. And like, right at the beginning he was saying things like "I think this could work between us." And another time, "I'm so happy we're doing this together." And I was excited, you know? Cuz like, it's not often that someone gets me. Like really gets me, you know? But then, something happened. I don't know. All of a sudden, it takes him forever to return my calls... The more I call, the worse it gets. Like no phone calls, no texts, no emails. No Facebook messages, but he definitely goes on Facebook, cuz he updates his status with like, everything else he's doing...

I know what you'd say to her. Depending on who you are, the tone could range from "He's just not that into you" to "Shut the $^%$#* up, needy #&*%", but the message would be the same: "You've been dumped. It sucks, but you've gotta face it and move on." That's how I'd say it: gentle, yet tactful. But in this instance, I'm unable to give that sound advice. That desperate chick who was dumped and needs closure? That's me.

It's commonly said in musical theatre writing circle -- there aren't enough of us for the plural -- that every collaboration is like a marriage, except you don't have sex. The bliss, the fights, the struggle to keep one's identity, the negotiation of chores, the shared financial responsibility, the wanting to please... It's all there. And like many marriages, many collaborations fall apart. Mine did.

It's been over a year since I last heard from my ex-collaborator: a well-meaning guy and brilliant playwright who I'm sure never meant to hurt me. He was young. (Still is, I suppose.) And while he didn't handle things well, I don't think he knew better. He was scared to be the bad guy, so instead, he was the disappearing guy, which of course makes him the even worse guy. "Like no phone calls, no texsts, no emails." And yes, he is on Facebook, posting about his other theatrical pursuits and writing projects.

And I'm not stupid, you know? He's pulling away. I get it. So I tell him that if he needs some time to like, sort things out... I mean, I really wanted to make it work with him. Like, if he needs to catch his breath, I can totally back off a little. So then, like, he was all "No. I really think this is a good thing we got going. I want to make this happen. I've just, like, got some stuff I'm dealing with." So like, I think things are cool. I'm ready to be the kind of partner he needs. But then, nothing. Again, no communication. And I just wanna know, you know. Like, is it over? I mean, maybe I should call him...

The snivelling monologue is accurate: I had given him an out. When it was apparent that things weren't working, I told him that if he wanted out, we should address it. He assured me he didn't. He said that he was having some issues with writer's block in general, and wasn't sure where he was with his writing. So I said he should take a few months and regroup. That was fifteen months ago...

I've been pretty scarred by it. The folder on my hard drive containing the music from our ill-fated collaboration remains unopened. And those were arguably some of my best music and lyrics.

In the dating world, I'd been dumped plenty. It got to the point where I could barely even feel it. I'd just dust myself off and shout, "Next!" That's what Dan Savage says: "You're well rid of someone who doesn't want you." Logically, that makes total sense. Of course, logic doesn't figure into this at all.

While I haven't exactly been crying myself to sleep at night, I am definitely damaged. I'm finding myself not pursuing writing projects. Not the aforementioned project, nor any other project, even with different collaborators. I doubt the quality of my own work, and the relevance of my stories. I don't try, and therefore never fail. What it all boils down to: I'm scared of getting hurt again.

Lately though, something's got me thinking that I should dust that piece off again. I guess I'm healing. Maybe I'll even write the book myself, OR look for a new bookwriter to take up the reins. Perhaps I'll find someone I can trust out in San Francisco, (that's what happened in my romantic life!)

However I proceed, I have to stop looking at my failed collaboration as a personal failure. I didn't do anything wrong. It could just be that musicals aren't his thing, or that he wasn't really into my music, or that he contracted a rare form of encephalitis which impaired his ability to communicate. Whatever his reasons, so be it. I am not an unworthy collaborator just because someone wasn't able to hold up his end of the bargain. I am a good writer, and a giving, responsible collaborator who should (and will) get back in the saddle. I will finish this show, and many others.

(And I will keep telling myself these things until I believe them...)

Yeah. It totes sucks. I don't think I'll ever recover. But like, I'm totally back on OK Cupid now.

Tony Asaro is a composer/librettist currently working on various musical theatre and opera projects including the award-winning Our Country. To learn more about Tony's writing, please visit NEVER STOP SWINGING!