Catching the train! “Hurry-up and wait”—welcome to NYC. The train, into the city, comes, within seconds, as I run up and down the stairs, in my flip-flops, crossing the tracks. I catch my breath on the platform. The whistle blows. I enter as the doors open.
Last night, leaving Molly Wee’s, was a bit humorous. I grasped the directions, from the barmaid Laura Ann, to go down 34th to Park Ave to find Grand Central Station. After finishing my fourth pint, I left and entered the teeming streets in the full sun.
I snaked my way down the sidewalk between the scaffolding and strangers. What dawned on me was NYC is a ‘melting-pot’ of every: race, sex, creed, color, attitude, defect, walk, voice, smell in one place. I’ve heard about a ‘melting-pot,’ but until you walk, with and next to living people, it’s unfathomable.
Everyone I saw was an example of every type of stereotype. There was no one the same. What life! A concrete jungle of wild strange people swarming on 34th & Park Ave. – all the way down 34th, from Madison to Grand Central Station.
When I stepped on the corner of 34th & 5th Ave., I asked for directions, and realized I needed to go to 42nd St. Then I knew the beers filled my bladder, but it had leaked-out of my memory. So, with my bladder ready to explode and walking up 5th Ave, I had to act. I walked by an open-door Catholic Church, The Church of Our Savior. I stepped inside, took off my hat & glasses, opened the tall wooden door.
What I found was a holy relic. It was cool, dark and the priest was at stage right proclaiming his sermon. I quickly tried to spot an exit for a bathroom. I began to scout. I bumped into one of the office workers: a small, black, devout woman in a red blouse and glasses, to find the men’s room. We went around the congregation and through a side door. Once inside, she immediately proclaimed, “What’s dis?!” On the door was a temporary sign ‘back in a few minutes.’ The bathroom was through this locked door! Disgusted, we turned around. The door opened and a bulky black security guard stood out. She gave him a few choice words. He quickly directed me to, “down the hall and to your left.”
I arrived to my pew and began to listen…dry and garbled; something with being intoxicated. The topics were of will power, us and logic. What a combination of philosophy, theology and drunkenness in one place under God.
Well, I was bored lasting through Mass, no matter how stirring or dead-pan; but, this time, I had to exit my pew. Well, the forces-at-be were not going to let me go so quickly.
Immediately, I was asked to help take collections. Mind you, I’ve attended many Masses and I’ve not been subject to participate. Now, out of randomness, or an act-of-God, I was to go up the aisle, slightly buzzed in my flip-flops, for two offerings. Two?! I stepped out of my pew, as solemn and sober as I could; my mental state being one and my physical being another.
After finishing my second round of collecting green bills and checks, I sat down and made my Eucharist. I felt yesterday’s experience @ HB was ‘meant-to-be.’ Lastly, since I was sitting in the last pew, I held the big wooden door for Father George to exit and greet. I extended my hand, hoping he wouldn’t smell by breath, to thank him for the Mass. He grabbed my hand with vigor. He looked me square, into my eyes, and said, “Have I seen you before?” “ Yes,” I replied, “I was just at the alter.” He grinned, and asked me to return. A nice ending to a misadventure.
Forty minutes later, I proceeded down 5th Ave., to Grand Central Station. Inside, I got my round trip ticket. I went upstairs for a drink. I had fifteen minutes with my Bombay blue gin & tonic. Happiness.
With that story passed, I can now describe my morning up to this point. (Writing a journal is fun, but keeping up with the tenses of past & present is taxing.)
The train was smooth. I arrived in GCS and began to scout for a city map. Where was I? Where do I want to go? What line, or lines, on the subway do I take? These are very basic questions if you live in the city and know the lines; but, I‘m learning like some kind of thirty-nine year old babe-in-the-woods.
I jumped on a line, and immediately realized I was going downtown, or was it uptown? All I knew was the streets were going up in numbers and I wanted them lower. I got off, and connected to the E (blue)line to the Village. I arrived ‘uptown’ at 10:30am.
I stepped up the stairs at HB. I was forty minutes early. I waited at the window-seat on the second floor. Carolyn stopped, and we talked about the class. She teaches scene study and character classes. I told her my travels from Maine, and that I planned on moving down in October. She was impressed.
The second day of “Bath” was exhausting. I’ve been able to find an inner voice and began to read the text. After about an hour or more of exercises, we finally got to reading. Each person received one line, hand-selected, and to began working vowels & consonants until they came out naturally… A line from Cryano! My favorite.
A late lunch at the Bus Stop Café. My experience in NYC, the Village, will be right where it started. I’m sitting outside admiring the scenery. I know I’ll be back in two weeks for another class. This weekend has been quite eventful. Maybe it’s the novelty; maybe it’s my desire to be here.
I’m ordering another sandwich-to-go. The bus trip will be long and dry. This’ll be my eatable token, of the Village, for my ride back.
Sitting on a bus bench at South Station Boston. A whirlwind of a trip! My eyes are heavy. I’ve enough energy to get my last thoughts down before they vanish.
One of the last moments of NY was when I got on the E train to Port Authority on 42nd St. I was told it was the A train, but realized, after missing one train, that only the E was running. The time was 4:20. I couldn’t afford to re-think any other options, but to get to my bus on time. I jumped on the next E, prayed, and believed it would take me on the same line, too. It did. Relief.
4:30. I walked the long corridor from the subway to the bus terminal. My last destination. Not bad, I thought. I was approached by a friendly black man asking if I needed help to find my terminal. I knew he wasn’t an official employee, but a hand-out looking for a hand-out. He was courteous, as a guide. He delivered the way and asked for a donation. I gave him five bucks. He turned around and walked back, to his corner, for another ‘paid’ instruction.
I only waited five minutes for the Boston line. I boarded the bus back to Portland. This time, I was ironically struck: not who I sat next to but who sat next to me: a young Indian man and a fair woman incessantly talking.
Here were two people that didn’t understand the meaning of breathing, nor restraint. (Maybe it’s better they’re in the audience because ‘acting’ would be too much for their frontal lobes.) I found out, after hearing their conversation for two hours, they’re Harvard grads. The two of them were on the isle seats leaning over chit-chatting, while another passenger and I were trapped. Perfect torture! And, my legs were aching, again. No room.
On our pit-stop in Connecticut, I approached the lady and the Indian man and asked if we could switch seats. No problem. Good. They can talk together and I can relax, or so I thought.
I met a new travel friend, Corey, an English teacher. She’s from Boston visiting one of her girlfriends in the Hamptons. She mentioned her lack of interest being in the Compliance dept. at Fidelity for the last five years before her career switch. How interesting to sit next to a stranger that had some common interests, too, when I used to work in finance. Well, we talked and talked until an older man, in the front row of the bus, stood-up and walked to my seat. He announced, in a loud voice, he was tired of hearing me talk about my acting career, and if I could lower my voice! What? Me? I was incensed. I shook it off, and did lower my volume. How ironic! We’ve only been chatting for twenty minutes in a normal hushed tone, not the two people still talking without pause, and I’m the one heckled on the bus! That moment capped the weekend.
Ps. About three minutes later a young female passenger came over to me, on her way to the bathroom, and told me the old man had some ‘issues.’ Why is it that the mentally unstable ones need to express their criticism to actors?
On the bus back to Portland. It’s not Greyhound. The seats are more comfortable. As I step up, I’m questioned by the bus driver. My ticket isn’t valid. I tell her I bought my ticket at the Portland bus terminal. She snaps, “Next time, buy your ticket at our station.” Now, I understand what the Greyhound dispatch lady meant, when she told me my ticket was valid, even switching carriers, no matter what they try to tell you. What a racket. Shut-up and get me home.
Next time, I’ll use the Fung Wah bus out of Boston to NYC for twenty-bucks. Another adventure.