I lost myself in Manhattan, in about the year 2003 – have you seen me?

28 Aug

Tonight I met with an actress I know to talk about a play I wrote. I used to do this sort of thing on a regular basis. Meet with friends, actors, musicians, writers. Talk about projects. Dream. That sort of thing. Here are some other things I used to do:

I used to take acting classes, step classes, an occasional dance class, and I once tried a spin class because my roommates said the instructor was hot. (He was. But not hot enough to make me want to go back to that strange and unusual form of torture a second time.) Meet in parks to rehearse scenes. Stay up all night, on an electric roll, writing, and when the sun came up, walk to my corner Starbucks, get a grande no water extra chai chai latte and keep on writing. Go to plays and readings that my friends were in/directing/producing. Be in plays and readings that I wrote/directed. Spontaneously go out on a Monday night to a somewhat-famous dive-y blues bar down the block that now I have to think really hard to remember the name of. At said bar, do shots of Jack Daniels ’cause Monday night was Ladies Night, and the alternative was cheap wine in probably-plastic cups. Go to comedy clubs, once to see a boy I had a crush on strut his stuff. (It was bad, in that painful way that stand-up can be bad, but my crush endured.) Act in improv shows in a basement theatre on St. Mark’s Place. Memorize lines and go to rehearsals. Waitress. Cook for myself and my roommates, chicken Caesar salad and baked ziti. Have Dawson’s Creek & (homemade) chocolate chip cookies & lactose-free milk parties. Send out headshots. Act in independent films, host a cable TV show, produce a documentary, interview Matthew Broderick and The Fonz, walk the runway in the fashion show of a young Brooklyn fashion designer strutting my stuff. See a musician who has since become famous pound on his piano and belt out his heartfelt tunes while I sipped red wine at Wilson’s on the Upper West Side, which doesn’t even exist anymore. Flirt with boys and kiss them in bars. Go on dates to places like De La Guarda and Penang. Go to work hungover and throw up in the bathroom, and talk with my roommate all day on the phone, between vomiting, about how hungover we were, and how we couldn’t wait to get home. Go to movies by myself on weekdays for no reason at all. Was a game show contestant (and won (!) with the answer ‘Dorothy Parker’). Spent my entire tax refund/life savings on a yoga retreat in Mexico. Smoke Camel Lights with my friend from yoga class. Quit jobs. Put my dreams and desires first. Trust. Never wear a bra. Dated an artist with a sketchy past. Dance on the subway and smile at people on the street. Get into a “punch”-served-in-a-fishbowl drinking contest at Brother Jimmy’s. Dance on the bar there. Bartend. Go to parties. Parties that required costumes like ‘genie’ or ‘school girl’ and were at friends’ apartments in neighborhoods like Harlem and Gramercy. Try new things. Have adventures. Use credit cards with abandon. Have spontaneous dance parties with friends that involved dancing in a classroom or jumping on my bed. Get excited about things. Be not angry (less angry?). Take a chance. Pitch freelance story ideas and even with no experience, get assignments (!). Meet new people in coffee shops. Take noon yoga classes and then stroll around Manhattan in the middle of the day, and maybe sit on a bench in Washington Square Park to read The Artist’s Way. Wake up with energy, even when I quit caffeine. Blast Janet Jackson first thing in the morning and dance around my apartment. Smile (freely, frequently, generously, liberally). Relax (sometimes. This has historically been difficult for me, but in recent years, it has become more difficult). Walk. Sometimes for 100 blocks at a time. Breathe deeply. Practice impracticality. Follow my heart. Believe that I would be famous, or at least ridiculously, deliriously successful. Believed in having it all.

Laugh.

Say Yes.

Feel Free.

Have Faith.

When I was walking to the subway after this meeting, I took the long way to the subway; I turned up my recently re-discovered Lucy Pearl cd to maximum volume, added an extra spring to my step, and spent a moment with the me that got lost somewhere in 2003. And I realized, or rather remembered, that I can’t forget that wonderful, courageous girl I was – I have to bring her (minus all that drinking, smoking, angst, and debt) into the woman I am becoming.

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