Before I put in this entry, I want to be clear that I am home now. I got a nice email from a reader wishing a good time in NYC. Thanks! I did have a good time but opted to not be connected with the Web because I'm such an addict about checking email, surfing, checking my email again, cleaning out my quarantine box, and checking my email. Last night I was so tired I went to bed after feeding the cats and slept 12 hours. I'm much better now and definitely more coherent, which trust me is a very good thing. So back to our heroine's story at hand....
The day did not start well. After eating, we all tramped up to our hotel rooms. I shared a room with three of my fellow choristers, one of whom had already arrived and settled in by the time we arrived. We didn't want to disturb her, so we quietly set our suitcases aside, changed in the shaded light of the closet, and went to bed. We were all too tired to realize our first mistake: no one knew where the thermostat was or had done anything to reduce the room's temperature.
I was told New York was going to be cold. "Dress for cold," I was warned. "It will be cold!" It may have been outside, but in our hotel room, you could strip down and have a sauna bath. There were lofty comforters on the bed so that you could stay nice and warm. My bedmate got my share quickly. Toss carefully. Turn carefully. Sigh. Stick one leg out from under the bed sheet. Find a cold spot. You'd think after being tired from a flight one would fall asleep right away. Nope. The last time I saw the clock it was 2 am.
The night was punctuated with snores from a roommate in the other queen bed. I had earplugs in for that contingency (with a dozen spares--one can't have too many earplugs when rooming with others), but I could hear her through the plugs. Ignore the snores. Focus on trying to sleep. Count your heartbeats; that's a way of doing it. I wafted in and out of steamy sleep, wishing that I could just go lie outside on the roof. When it was 6 am, I lay in the bed as the sound of rush hour traffic hummed and honked outside. By 6:30, I had had it. There was no way I was going to get to sleep. So I quietly dressed, gathered my purse and knitting for the morning jaunt, and went to hunt up a latte.
I found a Starbucks around the back of the hotel, got a paper and latte, and camped in a window seat where I could watch the commuters making their way to work. If there's a lovely way to start the day slowly, it's with a cup of hot beverage in hand and an advantageous location for people watching. But my poor sleep-deprived brain didn't register that as part of their garb they had umbrellas and rain-type gear. It was too good to sit and sip in the coolest part of the place, letting all that sweat evaporate while watching. I saw people in leather blazers and thought, "That would be cool to have. And where else but here to get it!" While I was perusing the paper, I saw that Bloomingdales was having a sale. There! There's my morning destination. I finished my latte, folded up my paper, and headed out for Bloomingdales.
When I caught the subway, there was no rain. When I went aboveground, it was raining steadily. I had brought an umbrella but it was nestled comfortably in my suitcase. *dope slap!* I was also early. Bloomingdales didn't open until 10 am, so I had time I had to kill. Since I didn't pick up a pastry at Starbucks, I went in search of a place to eat, which isn't hard in Manhattan.
A quick dive into a variety store yielded a cheap umbrella that at least kept me dry. At 61st and Lexington, I found a corner cafe with a very reasonable menu. I went in and sat at the counter, hungry, sweaty, and damp from the rain. Bobby the waiter served me water, hot tea and extra napkins. I ordered a spinach and feta omelet, something my still painful gums could handle. While I waited, I watched people in the mirror that stood against the wall behind the counter and listened to the conversations around me. Locals visited here--a good sign. I talked with Bobby a little and started a conversation with a woman three stools down. Turned out she had sung opera but had been out of it for a while. The omelet arrived, stuffed with spinach and glorious feta. More conversation. I told her of the performance coming up. She said she'd try to get a friend to go, someone she's been trying to convince to join the NYC Gay Men's Choir, then she left for work. I finished my omelet and headed to Bloomie's.
Bloomingdale's was what I expected to a certain degree. Many designer clothes. Very clean, reminding me of Nordstrom. The women's large size department was in the basement. I thought that was rude. They had no leather coats to speak of. By the time I got out of there, my feet were hurting and I needed to get back to the hotel in time for rehearsal.
The concert was divided into two parts: "When We No Longer Touch" was to be done first, then "Sing For The Cure". The rehearsal for "Sing" was scheduled for the afternoon on Friday, morning on Saturday, which meant opportunities to sleep for our group. I returned to the hotel in time to rest a little before going down. I was hot in my turtleneck shirt so I changed into my t-shirt which I had been using as my night shirt. The only t-shirt I had brought. I was cooler, but it also was gaining more of my sweat. Ugh.
I won't go into the rehearsal details, as most of it is pretty dull stuff for reading and I didn't note down some of the things the director Tim said that were pretty amusing. I will say that during the rehearsal the director lost his balance after jumping off the podium and ended up in my lap. "Oh, I'm sorry, are you okay?" he says. "Ohhh baby!" I murmured. He gave me a little kiss, then got up. "I just love redheads!" he quipped, then went back to the business at hand. I'll bet there were some tenors who were just greeeen with envy! Yeah, right. 'Nuff said.
After rehearsal, I was hot, tired, hungry, and feeling a little crawly inside. My temper was getting short and the prospect of going out on the town that night did not really appeal to me at all. We went to the food court at Grand Central Station (which was next door) to find dinner. I found some and quickly sought out a quiet corner where I and others could eat. The feast? Sesame chicken, stir fry beef, and rice. I scarfed it down, hoping that would help settle my mental mood. But when a fellow chorister started to talk my ear off, I felt that familiar panic again. I needed a break. I HAD to have a break! I would have a breakdown and say things I would regret if I didn't get out of the noise, the chaos, and the attention. It didn't matter if the room was hot; it was quiet, it held my medication, it was safe. I told my fellow choristers with me I wasn't going out that night and fled for my room. I was able to give my Broadway ticket to another chorister to try to sell. When asked why, I told him I needed space very badly.
The room was silent. I took my medication and stripped off for bed. I pulled out my knitting and worked on the front of the sweater. Knit, knit, knit. Purl, purl, yarn over, knit 2 together, purl, purl, knit, knit, knit..... Calm. Silence. Stitches forming in my hands. Fabric falling from the needles. One stitch. One more stitch. Breathe. Breathe again. Deep breath. A drink of water. Another drink. Knit more then turn to purl across. Work pattern at the markers. Finish another row. Soft blue wool under my fingers. The quiet click of the needles. I find the thermostat and turn it down as far as it will go. One of my roommates comes in and after a short chat settles down to read before going to bed. We both go to sleep early. I am comfortable at last and sleep the sleep of the dead.