Friday, September 01, 2006

Old news, enduring love

May was a long time ago. Half a lifetime if you're MusicBaby's age. If you're of advanced years though, as I am, a couple of months can just zip right by. You can open your laptop every day (and twice on Sundays!) and see the pictures sprinkled across your desktop and think "Gotta post those." Every day. It seems to daunting, there's so much to say, you've played it up to the participants too much and you don't want to disappoint.

Is this the face of a woman who would be disappointed in me?

It's not, trust me I've tried. She just loves me, bless her pea pickin' little heart. Knows me pretty well now and has yet to run screaming. This is how you can tell that, despite her pleasant demeanor, she's a nutjob.

When somebody loves and tolerates you this well, someone supports and checks in on you and showers you with gifts even when you don't need or deserve them, you really should see that person more than once every three years. Sadly we haven't been able to manage it. I can't tell you how excited I was to see her. Just hear the voice and see the bright colors and see how she looked after all the changes she's made in the past year or so. She looks great, she sounds great, she smells fabulous!

Our excitement, however, somehow froze the logic function in our brains. This was our first attempt at self-portrait. Me, MKAEP and Reno, before we even started drinking (!) just maybe 5 minutes after we'd met up in the bar of the Edison hotel. No, wait, it's actually not our first attempt. The first attempt involved pointing the camera away from ourselves so we could see the display on the back and wondering why we couldn't see ourselves in it. Oh yes, smart, competent women, making their way in the world.

So we started drinking. We ate of fondue and we drank of wine and we talked. Then we talked some more. And after that there was another bottle of wine and more talking. That last bit probably at a somewhat higher volume. Boys, jobs, careers (yes, it's different), boys, love, kids, decisions, health, death, boys etc.

And that's the thing you can't replace with e-mail or phone messages or web sites, the talking, overlapping eachother, remembering one little thing to say that you've been wanting the other person (or people!) to know. Most of the things you wish they knew, the context, isn't worth an e-mail or even a text message, it's not the sort of thing you think of or that comes up while you're in the middle of your weekly phone call. You have to be face to face for that, for the moment when you look at her and notice her wooden necklace and remember that in January a carpenter-boy made you shiver in your boots and you need her to understand the feeling because you're not sure who else would so you just spill all that out with the background and the dramatic re-creation of the shiver and it's absolutely nothing and deeply important all at the same time.

So we talked. Reno talked. Ma & R, who organize the trip talked. Magical, mystery KC talked, people on the train talked. And we all listened.

We ate sushi. You have to go to this place. They use real crab meat and everything is beautiful. Oh but if the skinny guy is your waiter, come back some other time. He's an ass monkey and totally mean and should get a nickel tip - not that he deserves the money, just so he knows you did the mini-tip thing on purpose.

And we walked all around the city. I worked many of the days that MKAEP was here so I didn't even do all the walking. I'm told she wore a path from Waverly to Canal on Mercer. Apparently people who charge thousands of dollars to style hair, and teach others to do the same, like to keep a low profile. Informational marketing? Not their strong suit. Eventually, though, I think she saw all the things she wanted to see. And her blackened foot soles were the proof. Flip flops do not protect you from the general ick of a city street. But they're comfy and they look good.

Much though I wish it I am so not punk rock. MKAEP and KC had read a history of punk rock and the soon to be defunct CBGBs. So we went over there. As you can see below Reno is the epitome of punk rock. Or possibly Go Go. She wouldn't say no to a little heavy metal, either. She's a little bit of everything, people, and don't you just want to eat her up with a spoon.

I had never been to CBGBs. I've seen a few friends play at CB's gallery but I'd never been in the real deal. It's exactly as you'd expect it and it made me wish desperately that I'd seen at least one show there, that'd I'd been at least hip enough to realize what a slice of history that is. Now I've got to get the book and read it, too. Apparently it's intense, riveting and a historical way.

Did I mention we ate sushi? It was yummy.

At some point, fairly early on in the week I got a severe case of SesameStreetitis ("One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong..."). Here I am a taciturn, reserved (mostly) New England girl hanging out with gregarious, social southern beauties. They never seem uncomfortable, they're open and inviting. They don't seem to attract only creeps and crazies, and on the rare occasions when they do it takes them a mere sentence and a smile to extract themselves from the situation gracefully. As I shrunk into my shell I watched them work and thought, "Oh god, this is what I should be. Why can't I do that? No wonder I'm not dating, no wonder people think I'm severe. I'm such a loser!" And part of me knew that everybody's different and that it's OK to be who I am and, more than anything that they love me regardless but the other part of me, the derogatory, insufficient, needy part of me was whining a lot louder.

After a week of it I've got to say that I'm grateful to them. I can learn from them. Because, yeah, it's OK for me to be who I am but I could sure as shit stand to be more easygoing, more approachable and more bold when I'm out in the world. Let's just say, though, that I've got a lot to learn.

KC, I don't even know what to say about her. I'd never met her before, she was on the trip to see New York. She might want to live here some day. She's a business major, she works for a beauty chain and she works like a freaking horse for them. (Note to KC: You hooked me! I'm now in love, not only with my hand sanitizer - thank you for that - but this new Scrub I just bought and a coconut lotion that makes me smell like summer!) On our way to the sushi she had us stop at a local outlet so she could see how they did things. She took advantage of the sale, talked to the employees and gave us all presents. She's going to be great at whatever she does.

One of the things KC wanted to do was visit a local vintage store that I had, of course, not heard of. Tragically unhip, I've really got to get on the hipster bandwagon at some point. However, she'd had a drink or 2 the night before so it was not until we were 3 doors down from the store that she said, "Hey. Hey! HEY! Hootie Couture is right near here! I want to go there!" MKAEP and I had to take a moment before we reminded her that it was the whole reason we'd brought her to Brooklyn in the first place. And in that moment we felt like gajillion year old grandmothers. We had not had too many drinks the night before, we had not hopped to clubs, we were not nursing hangovers. We were orchestrating someone's My First Trip to NY. We are 1,000. But we're damn good tour guides.

I'm so glad we are, too. The experience of going to this store was worth a million trips to Times Square. It was truly meant to be. The woman who owns Hootie Couture is a former model who has turned business owner and author. I believe she co-owns and co-writes with her sister but it could be with her mother. She brings her mother on book tours and the shopping bags for the store have pictures of her very glam mom on them. She is like 17 feet tall and shines as bright as the sun, she's enthusiastic and kind and verging right on the pushy, she draws people to her and weaves them into her world seamlessly.

She and KC were separated at birth.

Seriously, they belong together and they were so happy to find each other. Purchases were made, photos were taken, love was declared. It was a classic New York moment.

We also saw a bunch of really great theatre like the Drowsy Chaperone. And some unmissable but not great theatre, like Three Days of Rain (Julia Roberts just doesn't have stage skills, and that's OK, I hope she gets some training and tries again. She must have been terrified. I was sure as hell terrified for her.) And yes, that was great and oh my god, it was the most important to me I have to say, to be included in that group and given complimentary tickets to these shows that I wouldn't have been able to go to or get into if they hadn't given the tickets to me is like the sort of present I dream about. I can't really express my gratitude for that. But I'm going to keep on trying. (Thank you Roger! Thank you Ma! Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Like I said, though, it doesn't compare to the times when we sat in the lobby shooting the shit. Or in the coffee shop. Or in the diner. Or as we walked through a street fair. Or anything else.

About 7 years ago, maybe 8, I rolled into Saginaw, MI to spend the school year doing educational theatre with a bunch of people I'd never met before. Probably 5 or 6 peopel mobbed the van, jumping up and down and welcoming me and asking questions and filling me in with information. I remember MKAEP was in the front row, on the left side wearing shorts and a big t-shirt with her hair up in a pony tail. She was as boisterous as any of the rest of them but when she saw me and watched me for a minute she knew. She knew I was freaked and shy and terrified and she reacted. She steered everyone away to "give [you] time to settle in" and she told me where to find them when I was settled and if I wanted to join them. What she said didn't matter because she saw me and she understood me and I knew it.

Nothing has changed.

Two days later I was drunk and trying on her shoes in the middle of the street. Two months later (I think) we were both sleeping with the same (so wrong!) guy. Two years later we were sharing a bed in the house a friend was housesitting for in St. Louis while we attended the wedding weekend of one of the other extremely welcoming people from Saginaw.

I'm glad that I waited this long to write about it because it'd helping me to remember the trip in detail and it was such an amazingly good time I love to be back in it. Part of me wishes I'd written the day she left because writing this now just makes me miss her so profoundly.

Just before KC and MKAEP got on the bus and Reno and I headed off to our boroughs to re-assemble our post-visitor lives we redeemed ourselves with another self-portrait.

Ed note: I accidentally posted this without proofreading. And when I think about that, it's probably for the best. Better for truthiness and all.


  1. sniff. sob. guffwaghk.
    This is me. Reading your words about me. and you. GEE DEE i miss us. For all the shit we lived through in Saginaw...the best things, the VERY BEST THINGS were the people living right next door. I close my eyes and can smell you baking the bread...screaming "WE'RE HOME LET'S GET TO THE BAR"..or maybe I was the one screaming.
    This was a beautiful post. Thank you. from the bottom of all I have. thank you.

    Now quit kicking yourself in the ass for not being loud and bossy and something right out of fucking carnivale. You are perfect. . . just as you are. (bridget jones on tbs tonight)

    I wouldn't change a thing.

    aaaaaaaand, i put some purple in my hair go along with the pink. it's so very SARK.


  2. ps.
    still sniffing and sobbing. prior to reading your fab post, I od'd on the last season of SATCity, more specifically the eps before she leaves for Paris and then
    sob. sniff. guffwaghk.
    am taking a pill and putting myself to bed.

  3. Anonymous9:28 AM

    This was one of the best posts I've ever read, and a touching semi-tribute to the Saginaw Times.
    "Hey, you got Law and Order in my Homicide!"
    "Well, you got Homicide in my Law and Order!"
    And while you both were sleeping with the same guy, I was wondering why, also.