Catching up..

(Disclaimer: This is probably the longest blog post I've ever posted. Sorry for those of you about to embark upon it! There was just so much to be said and stories that needed to be told. Thanks for reading!)

The days are passing fast,  marching like soldiers, like grains of sand, steadily sliding out of the jar of life and out into the open air.
It's been a long time since I've posted -- anything  -- really. My time for writing seems to have diminished, or maybe just my capacity for inspiration has been tapped in other ways these past few months. But whatever the cause, my poor blog has taken the brunt of it, although, writing and work on my book still continues.
March and April have flown past in a flurry of details and days littered with the hopeful faces of new friends and a cold but fresh new wind. Spring is in the air.
Sometime in March, a day or two before my birthday, I got out of work at Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea. It had been a long 8 hours and my face was thirsty for sun and my eyes hungered for sky. It was one of the first really blue sky, clear days we'd had and I reveled in it after spending my entire shift inside in a windowless building, answering the endless questions on the other end of the unceasingly ringing telephone.
I smiled up at the blue sky and the golden late afternoon sun that was gilding the tops of the buildings. It was too good not to be shared.
I pulled out my phone and dialed my friend Dana.
"Hey! Do you want to go on an adventure? Great. Be at your place in twenty minutes."
I love spontaneous adventures and I love having friends to go on them with. Dana and I have become friends and it is one of those things that I am completely grateful for, and not quite sure how it happened. We met dancing out in San Francisco in 2012 and again in Vegas in 2013. But somehow now, we're just friends and it's just really wonderful.
     He had been inside all day too and seemed to welcome the change as I looped my arm through his and led him outside to catch the last rays of magnificent sun gilding the -- everything -- since we were at the tip of Manhattan right off of battery park.
     The wind tossed the empty branches of the trees along the avenue as we walked and the sun felt so good on my face. The way it does after a very long, gray, cold and weary winter. I practically felt my freckles delighting in the light.
We walked along the water to the Ferry Port, our destination for adventure. After waiting a minute or two the big doors opened and we moved with the Staten Island throng through the doors and stepped onto the old big boat.
From it's upper decks we watched the sun slip down across a wide, flat horizon. The last of it's colors reaching up to color the sky; pink, orange and then mauve and dusky blue.
I stood there, the wind whipping at my face and watched the colors dance, mesmerized. Dana, my quiet companion beside me, didn't say anything.
Finally I turned, breaking the sunset spell, and there behind us, the city stood, glowing in the shimmering aftershine, towering and strong.
A thrill ran down my spine. What a city this is.Once on Staten Island, we set out, or rather I did, and Dana kept pace with my leather boots, as I struck out for the top of the first residential hill I saw and the view I believed it would hold of the shining twilight sky.
     I found myself talking so much more than I had recently, as if it were spilling out of me, a spring that was bubbling up from the ground after being frozen for most of the winter.
I remember laughing, actually laughing; the sound of it reverberating against the apartment buildings as we climbed the streets.
We wound our way up to the top of a hill and just stood, in someone's driveway and watched the trees sway against the now nearly dark sky. It was quiet. Really quiet for New York. After a minute Dana brushed my arm and silently pointed skyward. I tilted my head back and there, up, far above me, twinkling like old friends were the fiery, grounding faces, of my stars.
     We rode back to the city on the prow of the ship, watching the formidable shadows of Gotham City come alive and clear before us through a grimy, sea splattered window.
The faces of the buildings glowed, the freedom tower higher and resolute above the rest. I watched as their outlines grew more and more distinct, as we sailed towards them.
     I looked east and caught sight of the bridges connecting Brooklyn and Queens, they shimmered, looking like a mothers diamond necklaces that someone had strung happily between the bits of land. Dazzling and shimmering as they called us home. 

 At school in the month of March we had a 6 week concentration on monologues. Adding to the ones we already had in our repertoire. At the end of our 6 weeks we had a small performance and recited 5 of our chosen monologues, in a row; weaving a kind of changing story from the differing monologues we told. 
Working on Film and TV class
They baited us with cookies, for the performance. But I didn't need the bribery. I adored it. I have a deep yearning to be challenged and work hard, and monologues are their own little stories, so full and deep and wide that I found myself, up late studying them and early on the train reciting them under my breath like a crazy person. I pulled from Shaw, Shakespeare, Moliere, Le Bute, Rhul, Coldwell and Woods-Darby. (Yes, that would be me.) 
For those 15 minutes I spent in front of class telling these stories, using myself, as my own canvas; I felt passion and inspiration lighting me up like an electric current running through me and throwing light from windows long dark. I love acting. Which is a comfort, since I moved two thousand miles to pursue it. 

My birthday came and went. And with it came a flutter of snowfall and a pattern of sun on wet pavement. Warm arms embraced me, a few faithful friends, gathered round me in a postage stamp size Italian restaurant on the lower East side. Thier voices melding together, singing happy birthday to me, their faces illuminated by the flickering light of a single birthday candle. 

And with my birthday came the lesson, driven home, that I am not, nor should I be, in control of the grace filled, tangled, rich and confusing life, that I live. As much as that is a staggering thought in a world we try to control at every turn, it's better that way.

In MARCH, I had a couple job interviews. I house-sat in Brooklyn. I had a good old fashioned fight with my live in roommate. I did a lot of work, a bit of sleep. I saw three shows - Kung Fu -- the one I auditioned for way back in December -- Chicago, with my Aunt who was visiting for work, and the Human Fruit Bowl with my friend Alex. 
I read five of the Anne of Green Gables books and three new plays. I strained a muscle in my back and one of my best friends left New York and moved to California. 
One of the girls I babysit, at naptime. 
I went to church with my roommate in our neighborhood. I painted at the Cloisters. I worked. I babysat. I wrote. I went to Art Church with Heidi in the East Village. 
I met up with a friend of mine from summer camp who I haven't seen since I was fourteen, and we caught up over bowls of deliciously spicy ramen and spent an hour walking around in the rain. 

APRIL brought the hope of spring, the tastable smell of thawing and sun. 
My heart, closed and cloistered from the longest winter I have known, thrilled at the sight of courageous buds thrusting budding fists above ground. 
Along with April came the promise of family. My dad, good friend Erica and my brother Logan flew to the east coast to spend time with my dads family down in Delaware and, to come and spend a little time with me in my city.
     When I went to pick them up from the train station my heart was pumping fast. 
Amid the crowded rush of Penn Station I searched the faces of strangers for the familiar ones I know almost as well as my own.  I found them, under the Madison Square Gardens sign on 34th and 8th. I caught sight of their familiar forms, wearing the bedraggled, country traveled eyes, taking in the blare, sound and constant motion of my city. And then their eyes connected with my own. I flew across the avenue as fast as my boots would carry me, honking cabs be damned, and catapulted into my dad's arms. His rough wool sweater and canvas Carhartt overalls smelling deliciously like trees and mountains and my dad; like home. 
There were tears in my eyes as I smiled up at the 6'-6" grinning tower that is my brother, but it was like he had brought a piece of me with him from home, and as he hugged me to his skinny frame I felt it connect and click into place. Family. 
Next was Erica and the smile between us felt like homecoming too. I have missed my people. 

That following week was littered with moments of such simple joy to me. 
That night, we cuddled down in my giant queen sized bed, all four of us, and watched a movie. Full on home-cooked dinner and the simple immediacy of loving. 

The whole week, though I struggled with a congested cold, I felt as if I could fly, gilded by the easy unburdened giving and receiving of love. I miss that, more than colorado water, here in this city of so many busy and frazzled, unconnected souls. 

We did a lot of walking. A few touristy things, but mainly lots of cooking in my tiny kitchen, riding the subway between Harlem and all the rest of New York and talking. I found myself inspired, which being next to my brother Logan always seems to do. Our artistic visions and ideas spark on each other and fire is made. I found in our conversations between our grins and easy jokes, the kindling for great things, yet to be forged. 

One of my favorite moments from that week, was with my dad, sitting on a bench in Battery Park overlooking the Hudson river and across to New Jersey. The sky above the city line, painted dusky and blue as the sunset faded and night slowly came. 

We had gone and seen the freedom tower, just my dad and I, walking all around its massive base, my dad, whistling through his teeth at its size and the amount of money and manpower that had made it possible. 
I watched the builder in him, the one that wakes him every morning and keeps him out till its too dark to see, stirring behind his eyes. 

We had wandered into the twin towers monument. It was fairly quiet evening. We stood and silently watched the water, pouring, pounding, down into the deep square crevices that used to be the twin towers foundations. I traced the names of the people who had perished that day, written in bronze. It was very moving. 
     I slipped my hand into my dad's, his palms papery and callused. 
I felt such a surge of deep gratitude, that I have my dad, to love and know and laugh with. 
After the memorial we went and sat on that bench in Battery Park a long time. Just quiet. Our eyes following the shapes of people, the snatches of conversations, drifting on the warm evening air. My hand still softly linked in his. 

Just as the air began to grow cold his voice spoke. 
"Right now, I'm making a memory. I am remembering this moment. Right here, with you. So that when I'm home I can remember this. Always."  He turned to me then, his face lined with a life of handwork and sun, illuminated by the soft glow of the city. 
Funny, I was making the same memory. 

Just before they all left, he turned to me as we rode the Q train across the Manhattan bridge, the view of
the Brooklyn Bridge and the city laid before us.

He turned his eyes to me, his frame leaning against the grimy subway window and said.

"You know, all those people, who can't understand why you're here, who think it's crazy. Now I can tell them, I get it. I understand. This city, yeah, it's, it's pretty neat."

A few days later I rode the train down to Delaware for Easter weekend. 
     The sound of laughter and voices filled my grandparent's old brick house. 
The first afternoon after I arrived I found myself on the roof, Erica, my brother and I dancing barefooted on the shingles my grandfather had hung. Our small cousins swarmed around us, as the sun to the west, faded in the haze of suburban sprawl; the thick fingers of trees, turning dark and beautiful against the sky. 

That night we taught a blues dancing lesson to my aunt and step-uncle, cousins and their friends. The furniture was pushed back and the rug rolled up and everybody's glasses filled with something to bite back at the fear with. 
     It was probably one of my most favorite dance classes I've taught, everybody was just excited to move. Erica and I passed it back and forth, my brother and my dad jumping in when the need arose. Watching the joy and understanding of dance infiltrate a persons mind is pretty much amazing. I sat and watched as everybody danced, feeling the joy that only sharing dance brings. 

Norah Jones played loud and late from the closed curtained windows out into the dark neighborhood. 

(How ya doing? Need some water? We're about half way. I know.)

Saturday, found us in my grandmother's maroon Mercedes, headed south. We headed down towards the beach but our real destination was the Nanticoke museum, our native American Heritage that my brother Logan and I were very interested in. 
We finally found the tiny museum, but the sign on the marquee said it was closed for repairs and the parking lot behind its shingled siding was empty, but for a few weeds growing in the asphalt. 

We parked the car and walked the grounds, finding the remains of a shed, without a roof, a small swamp like pond and a council tree fire pit with rock and two-by-four seating around it's rim.
We sat in the small strip of grass in front of the building, next to the road, searching our smart phones for a phone number to call on the off chance we could find someone to unlock it's little white doors for us. 

As far as I know, it's the only museum dedicated solely to the Nanticoke native American. 

Apparently they were very friendly and welcoming to the white men and were bred out of existence faster than you could conquer the west.  
We walked around, tried a thrift store, that smelled of old vinyl records and old lady perfume; and ended up driving down the road a bit to a volunteer firehouse and asking them for any kind of information on the museum. 
     My brother and I sat out front of the firehouse while my dad and Erica searched within its depths for someone who might be able to help us or at least give us some information, and a hazy idea if it was at all possible to get in to the museum.
    We sat there, Logan and I, just quiet. But something about the sparse cars passing on the two lane road and the ways the trees tossed their newly budded leaves in the wind; it made me think about the people who lived here before all of this, the people who we have descended from. 
I turned to Logan, "Can you imagine, that the people we came from, knew these kind of plants and trees and this landscape better than anybody else? It's like their lives, and our lives, are stitched together with the same red thread. Sewing us all to a quilt, the people before us, our ancestors. Our parents. Us. This thread stitches us onward, until one day we'll be old and our children's children will be new. 

I don't know why, but sharing blood with someone, the same blood, is beyond human and cerebral understanding to me. I think it's amazing. 

My dad came back, having found out from a native woman that the museum was actually condemned, due to black mold. So, with a sad look at the forlorn little building containing our history, we moved on. 

We pointed my grandmothers car towards the beach, loaded down with groceries and a sheet I'd stolen off of my bed at my grandmothers. 
    We picnicked on the cold sand, the chilly brown water of the Atlantic rhythmically crashing on the shore. 
It wasn't lonely, or too chilly. It was a moment separate from the rest of the world. I felt blessed to share it with these souls.

Sunday morning dawned and with it the resurrection of Easter. My small cousins hid Easter eggs filled with chocolate and caramels for all of us adults and then let us loose on the lawn. It took us a good twenty minutes to find them all. 
    The rest of that day is a bit of a blur, my cousin Monica made the family a huge brunch, and we sat around her living room talking over the heads of the kids and cousins and the delightedly licking tongue of their pit-bull. 
After that napping ensued, and then packing. But just before I left to catch my bus back to New York City, we sat down in my grandmother's dining room and had one more family meal. We ate off of her good china plates and drank from her plastic drinking glasses. 
    Afterwards, Erica and I washed the dishes in her well worn pink kitchen sink. And then it was time to go and I was hurried down the steps and out the door, garbed in my grandfather's WW2 wool army coat and toting an old leather suitcase of his; goodbyes still on my lips and hugs still flung at my large and beautiful family. 
    I caught the bus although it was an hour late out of Wilmington, and then after we discovered it had technical difficulties, sat in a dark and empty parking lot for 4 and a half hours while we waited for a part, and a replacement bus to take us home to New York. Someone started teaching yoga in the aisles, since we were gonna be stuck so long. I joined in, slipping off my brown leather boots with a smile, remembering that when we are thrust into crisis, that's sometimes where the walls come down and magic happens.  


(If you've made it this far, I salute you! It's about to get personal. Get ready. and Thanks for sticking it out.) 

    So something that has been showing up as a theme in my life these past few months is Honesty.
I've noticed that living in this world and keeping to our own honesty is sometimes a struggle. Politeness is valued, and these days, being honest, isn't very polite. 
     I have found especially since I started living in the city that I have been perfecting the skill of bending my view of the world around me to appear the way I need it to, so that I can continue living in the ways that I have been, believing things that may or may not be true. Because it lets me survive. And if I am quite honest, my life these past 6 months have been mostly that; surviving. 
     So slowly, I have began working, dismantling the walls and facades around my life and taking time to take a good long look at what I am investing in. 

The next Thursday, I boarded a bus and rode it for ten hours through upstate New York and then out and across the border of Canada and on into Toronto. My excuse for going was a fusion dance workshop taught by a friend of mine from Colorado. 

But upon arrival into Toronto, bleary eyed and stiff from a full day of sitting in a bucket seat, propped against a dirty window, watching the world go whizzing by and letting my thoughts carry me; I disembarked down the steep steps and stood on the cold pavement.             The chilly evening air of the city surrounding me as I searched the faces around me for a semi-familiar one. And then before I knew what was happening, I received an attack hug; an open-hearted, full body hug. Not sure how else to explain it.   

This was Amaya, a friend I had met in New York over the summer at a dance event. She was the reason I had come, offering me a place to stay and, although I didn't know it yet, an incredibly open hearted start to a friendship. 
    We spent Thursday night eating Sushi and talking late into the night, learning each others stories.

That weekend, being surrounded by kind hearted people, dancing and the stark difference between Canada and my life in New York, was good for me.

But the night I spent, listening with Amaya, as she told me her story, something clicked into place for me. 
It's always about the people, isn't it? 

I am a fan of whole hearted living, Brene Brown is practically my bible when it comes to whole heartedness, but even in that I find myself obstructed by fear.
The fear of judgments, of failing. Even though I truly believe that it is our imperfections that make us lovable and our flaws that make us interesting, and that it is in our vulnerability that we are real; it is still hard for me to be honest about the messy and complicated parts of my life and feel worthy of deep love. It's like I'm cheating my people of something good, when I am disappointed, or disillusioned with life. 

Funny, but when you expose yourself like that, down to the core, that is when you allow real love in.  Everything else is just surface. 
 I found as I listened to Amaya's heart wrenching story, one word kept swimming up to the surface again and again. 

I have scarcely met anyone that the word applies to so well. 
     Amaya is a kind hearted, open, giving woman. Her stories speak of that. But of the painful blows she has faced, she has not shrunk back, not let the pain overwhelm her and make her hard. She continues on, loving and being loved. 
     I was inspired. I sat in wonderment. I guess I hadn't realized how scared I've been in my own life, to screw up, to make a mess, to fail miserably. Until I saw how it's impossible to. The only fail is to stop trying . 

On Monday I boarded the bus back to New York, once we had cleared the border, I called my mom. 
Things had been shifting, like glaciers, ready to be water, and it was time to let them. 
     From the buses bucket seat and grimy window I told my mom that when I got back to the city, I was dropping out of school. 
I'd been thinking about it for a little while, but as I concentrated on honesty, I realized, I wasn't learning anything new in school. And because I spend so much time working in order to put myself through school, I don't have time to actually apply any of it, I haven't been auditioning, or acting or anything, really. Just going through the motions. And although I love my school and my classmates, through my new eyes I could see that it really wasn't worth it, any more. 
My mom's response was a moment of silence and then she asked, surprise in her voice "Really?" I explained my thoughts and shifted perspective and that I felt as if something big was around the bend for me, something different, and even though I wasn't sure what it was, I was going to clear the space for it in my life. She listened, care in the silence on her end of the phone and pride in her voice when she responded with: "Good for you peachy girl." 
     I am blessed beyond any amount of richness, in my family and their unending, incredibly loyal love and support. I love them, so much. 

So on Wednesday, I withdrew myself from school. I wrote letters to my teachers thanking them for their knowledge and their shared kindness and sharing my regret at leaving. But in the deep of me something stirred and this time, I let it.

So it's been a little over a week since I officially dropped out of school. 
Today, I ride the subway home from Brooklyn. The smell of the dinner I cooked and the dishes I washed and the laundry I sorted, for the pair of twins and their older brother I look after, clinging to my clothes. The woman across from me is cursing at her child in Spanish and the baby is crying. Big loud sobs. The train rocks and the dark shoots past the windows under this maze of a city that I love. 

There is so much that I do not know. But with every day I am alive, every step I take, every friend I make or experience I expose myself to, every fear I face, every time I fall in love, every time I make a choice and every dollar that I spend, I am investing in the best kind of education for myself. I am investing in life. 

We arrive at my stop and my feet carry me on the familiar path out of the subway, through the turnstiles and up the stairs to the street. A half moon greets me, sailing high above me in the middle of the cloud dappled sky. 
I breath in the faint breath of spring blossoms and car exhaust and smile. 
Hell, if I know what I am doing with this life, and that's okay. I am living. And in each moment I am given again the sweet chance to live and be grateful for where I am and what I have.

This life is a wild, beautiful, crazy ride. Isn't it?

(Wow.  Whew. That was long, but you did it! Thank you for reading my story. Here's to all the ones to come.) 


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