Ordinary world Patty, 65, is a retired librarian. She’s bored, wonders why she didn’t do more with her life, and she’s suffering empty nest and loneliness.
Call to Adventure
Patty’s youngest child, Ryan, 40, wants to return to her house to detox from heroin.
Turns out he has been living in a refrigerator box in Tucson, AZ for a few years, not working as a bike messenger in Seattle, as he had pretended.
Refusal of Call
Patty tells Ryan no, he must seek detox professionally, that she can’t help him But she feels terrible. She’s his mother. Who else could help but his mother?
Ryan arrives on Cape Cod unbidden, says he has nowhere else to turn. Patty’s ex, Ryan’s dad, refuses to let Ryan move to France with him and his 25 year old girlfriend. Ryan begins his detox at Patty’s by following a yoga regimen and drinking kombucha. Patty gets a job slicing meat in a deli to support him.
He fails at detoxing by himself and starts taking methadone at a clinic.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
• Tests: Ryan falls in love with a woman he meets the first day at the methadone clinic. She lost her three kids to social services. Ainsley wants to get pregnant to prove she’s a good mother, and Ryan wants to be her hero. Ainsley moves into Patty’s too although neither asked if it was OK.
• Allies: Patty’s only allies are a 12 step group she’s offended by acting superior, saying her kid is special and he’s about to go to school to become a drug counselor.
• Enemies: There are many. Society in general hates addicts, and society also dislikes the parents of addicts because the parents are deemed as failures as parents. Medical professionals dislike addicts, as well as EMTs, who are tired of saving them from overdosing.
• Patty finds money missing. Ryan secretly tells Patty that Ainsley took it. Patty believes him, but she demands that Ryan and Ainsley leave. Ryan puts up a tent in the backyard and uses the car Patty bought him as a closet and refrigerator..
Ordeal, death, rebirth
• Ryan refuses to take down his tent. Ryan saws out his mother’s safety deposit box, fastened to the upstairs floor, and it lands on the first floor living room couch, the bottom open. Thousands of dollars of money and jewelry are missing. Patty calls the police, presses charges, and Ryan gets two felonies and heads for the state pen.
Ainsley finds a new boyfriend. Patty quits the meat market and sells her house. Her house near the sea is worth a fortune after the 40 years she’s been there..
• Ryan is in prison for two years and Patty is relieved. He’s safe now, off drugs, and he can’t get out. She reinvents herself, moves to the city, takes the improv acting classes she always dreamed of doing, and becomes an actress. All the emotions she’s suffered have opened her to performance.
• Patty loves her new life. She changes her name, transforms into an older beauty through plastic surgery, writes a monologue about her life, and eventually takes her monologue on the road to small theatres.
• Ryan tries to find her after his two years in the slammer, but she’s changed her name and her looks and nobody knows where his mother went. He’s back in a tent, and back to using for a while, but left alone with no one to save him, he enters rehab, lives two years in a sober house, and becomes a drug counselor.
• Patty meets a fellow actor, falls in love, begins to notice he drinks too much, and walks out, happy to be free.