Week 4 NYC

From Sunday:
     The leafs outside the upstairs window of 19 Adair stutter in the wind a little bit. The green making a contrast between the chalky pink of the window frame and the tree just outside.
This old house smells the same. The way the floors creak and the stairs are too steep. The clock in the kitchen ticks with so much familiarity, it's amazing.
This is my grandmother's house. Nearly empty now. The upstairs that used to house her four boys is clean and cobwebbed. I sleep in the south facing room on a creaking twin sized bed underneath a window that looks out on a trim lawn and my grandfathers old truck.

I've never spent much time here, just a few weeks out of my life.  But I've been thankful for it.

I've been here since Friday evening, rolling into Wilmington on the Peter Pan express, which didn't get me here any quicker than a greyhound, but it's okay. My cousin Alex and his fiancee Kelly, waited outside the doors for me and my grandmother waited in the car. It's so good to have family.

We went directly from the bus station to a baseball game. My first.
We sat on the bleachers, the smells of hot dogs and popcorn and weak beer wafting over the crowd.      The evening was warm and we sat there in our shirtsleeves, eating french fries and watching the sky turn from hazy blue into pink and orange and on into the deep indigo purple of night.
After the game there were fireworks that lit up the sky. I could feel my heart pounding with each explosion and I remembered a friend I'd met at the beginning of this journey say, that good fireworks, felt like war, when you could feel the boom and hit, inside your chest. I tilted my head back taking in the darkened sky. There weren't stars but it felt good to see so much of the darkness.

At home I unpacked in the familiar red room, laying my backpack on the other twin sized bed.
I sat up late with my cousin Alex and Kelly and then just with Kelly as we discussed their upcoming wedding plans, talking about flowers and locations and menu options.

As the clock ticked onward towards midnight our conversation grew towards my life, and what I'm discovering from living in New York.
    I have discovered that I love New York City and that I would actually like to live here for a while. Kelly was incredible supportive, encouraging me to go and get headshots done and go out and start auditioning, even without all the things I know I need, even offering me the loan of some of her clothes, if I wanted.
I felt so loved.

Saturday was the day of visiting my family. Aunts and Uncles and ex aunts and cousins and their children. It was wonderful to see everyone again. We sat around tables, and on couches and in backyards under the trees in the mid afternoon sun.  Our conversations turning from their busy lives to mine. I think I uttered the words "I just Love New York" about a thousand times throughout the day.
That night I slept well, feeling the ties that bind us all, so acutely. Knowing in my heart that we all have a choice to live the lives we want, rather than the lives we are expected to live. And wrestling with the fact that not everyone knows that.

Sunday my grandmother and I got in her car and drove up to the goodwill just over the state line in Pennsylvania. That was fun, careening around the cement barriers on the shoulders of the roads and distracting myself by asking Nanu about her life when she was my age. She had already had my dad by the time she was as old as I am.
In the thrift store, we searched. The walls lined with racks and shelves full of things other people didn't want.
I bought a dress and a few more things to tuck into my luggage and we went back home in time for a terrific rainstorm and the warmth of my Grandmothers kitchen as she made a ham casserole and tucked it into the oven.
A few more hours of visiting and then it was back to the bus station. I waited, while it rained, under the brick awning with all the other slightly disheveled people bound for not here.
I called my mom, and gave her the update on the Darby family and the sound of her sweet voice and the small news of home warmed my heart.

    Once I was on the bus again, it's little shakes and shimmies, jostled me as we roared along the highway heading towards New Jersey. The rain rolled down the wide windows, making the road dark with wetness and lighting up the green of the marshes and the silver of the power lines that we drove with, their wires swooping like some kind of beautiful giant, marching with us, back towards the city.

The first sight of the city, although delayed by darkness and rain, hit me like lightning. Through my grimy greyhound window I saw the lights and felt the feeling, that energy, rising up inside of me. excitement, and strength.

I love this city.

More than I thought I could actually. I mean, it's a city. I'm a country girl. But somehow I don't feel absolutely lost here. I think that's just because this is where I'm supposed to be.

The rest of the week, before I left for Delaware was a really good one. I worked on and performed The Most Awkward Scene in class and broke some barriers in it. I also started working on new monologues.
     Wednesday and Thursday were my absolute favorite days of classes so far. Wednesday was our class on clowning. Which was taught by this wonderfully bright little lady named Jean Taylor. She is the kind of person you instantly like and also instantly respect. She had us up, and playing games and running. Playing, and exploring.
Something I really have missed in our group, just because our classes are so short (being half day) our group doesn't feel like a crew yet, it's still polite and the running and squealing and things made a huge difference. We danced as clowns, which was an extremely interesting perspective on the clowning art. I stayed after class and talked to Jean a little bit more, just to be around her and soak in a little bit more of her magic.

Thursday was Stage Combat class with Ron Peretti. Amazing. We spent the whole day learning the precision and control of stage combat.
    We stood in a row, slappers on one side and slapees on the other. We went down the line and stage slapped each other, one by one. It was the most surreal and oddly satisfying thing. The swing, the sound of it hitting and the reaction, all while standing six feet apart.
After class, I took some extensive notes, and ended up chatting with Ron because I was still there. Ended up giving him a short blues lesson there in the empty practice hall. Our frames reflected in the dance mirror on the west wall.

Thursday evening I explored Harlem with Zach, the streets alive with people as the city darkened around us and the music of the city rose, the chimes and dings in the hiss of bus breaks and the honks of horns. It was magic, but gritty like the old men sitting on milk crates on the sidewalk, playing dominoes and drinking.

Friday I went to the  NYMF (The New York MusicalTheater Festival) Theater on 41th Street. I had gotten one of the last tickets to VolleyGirls, a musical that was written by Rob Ackerman, a friend of a friend and who I hope to meet with in the coming couple of weeks.
The house was full and as I made my way towards the actual theater I ran into a familiar face. One of the girls from Perry Mansfield was directing the theater traffic. We hugged. It was awesome to see her.
     The show was great, I really enjoyed it. I haven't taken myself to see many shows by myself, so it was fun, finding that single seat and reading my program. The show was impeccably acted, and watching the talent on the stage inspired me to get back up there. Gosh, I just love, acting.

This week, so far (it's what, Thursday?) has been good, working hard on my film and TV class and working on new material for monologues. Monday evening I spent making dinner and watching a show with a friend. It was amazingly good to just do something simple and easy with a friend.

Last night I met a different dance friend downtown and we rode the subway back to Williamsburg. We walked down the street slowly, our conversation bumpy because of not much shared history. But we shared a common goal. Music. Dancing.
We found a bar, and when the door opened, admitting a few straggling hipsters out onto the street we heard the unmistakable sound of music you can dance to. We immediately jaywalked across the street and into the establishment, squeezing past the people sitting at the bar to the front where the band was playing. No one was dancing. So we changed that.

I remember the solid feel of Chris leading against my core, the shadows broken by the pools of light that hit the floor near the stage, falling off the band members and glinting off of their instruments onto us as we flitted through the shadows. I opened my eyes and saw the bar and all the upturned faces. People watching with joy in their eyes.
Sometimes I forget, how beautiful the simple act of dancing can be. Not because it's perfect, not because it's flawless, no, because it's real. It's vulnerable and it's alive.

It was exactly what I needed.

This week was a really good one, it had a way of surprising me.
Like clown class being so incredible, and getting to walk across part of the George Washington bridge and see the view, the city all laid out like that against the river and the shores of New Jersey.  It surprised me when I was in Delaware sitting on my cousin Monica 's couch as her youngest crawled across the floor, that she told me a story about how she had been inspired by me; she had wanted to go to a color run down in Philly and felt daunted by the driving down there with all the kids and finding a parking place and all. But she told me, as we played with the baby and sat in the heat that she told herself, if Elizabeth can go all the way to New York City without knowing where anything is, I can go to Philly, which I've been to before.
I sat there for a moment, stunned. That my little life would touch or inspire anyone is incredibly surprising and amazing to me.
This week surprised me in how much I am feeling at home here. And how I am coming to find a new kind of courage to step out on the streets with.  It surprised me in receiving a letter from one of my old teachers with a little extra money inside. And it surprised me that I only have two weeks left before my ticket for a plane takes me to a different kind of home on the other side of the country.

It's been a good week. Thank you.

Pictures from the week:

Quote from clowning class

The view from the top floor of school 

The Delaware sky. I was very excited about clouds. 

My first official baseball game

The fireworks

The red room. My Grandmothers

19 Adair

Back home in Brooklyn, waiting for my laundry to finish at the laundromat down the street

Hipster shoes, and freckled legs. 

Exploring my neighborhood 

Boots I wish were mine. 

One of the best things to find in your apartment. Mail! Thanks to Karen for her thoughtful sweet heart!

From last night

From the weekend in Delaware. Made me feel at home. 


My Granddaddy and me

Fish, at the indoor Farmers Market in Delaware

Farmers market

Cashed out, from the farmers market 

Andrew and Veronica showing off their incredible garden 



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