New York or Bust

The second of three storms passed through Philadelphia on Sunday night, effectively snowing everyone in. I did try to get to work in the morning, but was told to stay home, where I had my therapy session over Skype. But there was no getting out of work the next day, and it was then that winter defeated me: the snow had turned to ice, and as I was chipping it off my car roof (since the new law requires roofs to be clean) when my ice scraper broke in half. So I just hacked at the ice with the handle. I shoveled the snow from around and behind my car and got in to go to work… and couldn’t get past the ice the other cars had mashed down. So I pulled back into the driveway, stomped through the house three times to have enough salt to melt the ice, and threw it all over he ground while my Chinese neighbor watched.

The second time I tried to get out of the driveway, my car seemed to have forgotten how to go in reverse; when in that gear, the car went forward when I hit the gas. I was on the edge of a panic attack, crying and shaking and feeling like my head was full of buzzing bees. But thankfully, the third time I tried to leave, I managed it, even though it happened very slowly.

All that got me through the long, mediocre workday was the thought that this morning, I would be on my way to NYC for my birthday gift to myself: seeing Machinal on Broadway. In addition to getting to see an awesome show, I was also missing a work seminar that I wasn’t prepared for. But while at work, I got a message that my bus to New York had been cancelled. I bought a train ticket. Then I heard trains were shutting down and I started panicking. I didn’t want my ticket money for the show or the train to go to waste. And also I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO THE SEMINAR.

With the inextinguishable drive of a Jehovah’s Witness, I got on the (operating) subway, hoping that was a good sign. But when I got to 30th Street Station, there were no trains to New York because those were coming from Harrisburg, and all trains from the capitol were cancelled. My anxiety level was climbing, especially when I heard announcement after announcement saying that, because of the weather, any ticket would be accepted on any train. I went to the info desk and said, “I know all trains from Harrisburg are cancelled, but is there any way at all to get to New York?” As the guy behind the desk started to look it up, another guy came over and said, “The 614? That’s running.”

THANK GOD. I still wasn’t convinced I’d make it to New York in time to lunch with Molly, but at least I was going to New York. To my surprise, I got there in plenty of time, with no problems or delays. So I walked to the restaurant near Bryant Park where Molly and I were meeting. We had lovely conversation and delicious food before she had to go to the library and I to the show.

Between the weather and the fact that Machinal is almost a hundred years old and a play, the theatre was pretty empty. I got the most awesome usher who, when I asked if I could move down if no one took the closer seats, whispered, “Just go down now, as close as you want.” I stayed up in the mezzanine, but sat at the front, about seven rows closer than I had paid for.

The play was INCREDIBLE. I read it very quickly for a hurriedly-composed essay my senior year of college, but didn’t remember that much. But whatever I expected, the show was better. The acting was great, the revolving set was so ingenious and cool, the costumes were beautiful, and the sound design gave me chills. The script itself is very sparse, and, in the wrong hands, could be very awkward and jerky. But the combined efforts created a show that was staccato when it called for it but never unnatural. My favorite thing is that it made me FEEL what the main character was feeling. I didn’t just think, “Oh, she’s feeling trapped and scared,” I actually FELT trapped and scared. And when I left the theatre, I didn’t want to. I just wanted to find a quiet corner and think for awhile. It was a theatre experience that left me wonderfully dazed.

I got an early bus home after grabbing some dinner. My post-NYC low hit me, but not nearly as hard as it used to. It’s worse now, but again, not as bad as it’s been. It was nice to get away for a day and see a good friend and good theatre.

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