My friend Laurie and I typically wind up in the most amusing
We’ve crashed a few parties, gone to numerous book signings,
and weaseled our way into some fascinating scenarios.
But for this particularly cold Saturday in January, we had
simple plans: Attempt to purchase student rush tickets to a Broadway matinee,
and then enjoy a reasonably-priced brunch.
So we waited in line at the box office of The Heiress,
completely frozen, though high in spirits. There were only two people in front
of us, meaning our chances of grabbing discounted seats were greater than
Forty-five freezing minutes later, we had two tickets to the
show (but, admittedly, we had lost all feeling in our fingers and toes).
The rest of the morning was spent at a diner in Hell’s
Kitchen, where we warmed up over coffee and eggs. Next we found ourselves
traipsing through Soho, amongst the discounted stacks of books at Housing
Works. Finally, by 1:45 Laurie and I were ushered into the Walter Kerr Theatre
on West 48th Street.
A man checked our tickets.
“Oh, first row,” he said, pointing down, down, down, toward
Laurie and I exchanged excited glances. We had noticed our tickets were listed as "orchestra," but we hadn’t realized our good
luck until seated approximately a foot away from the stage. If I had reached my hand out far enough, I could have grabbed the velvety red curtain – and all for a lovely
The play starred Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), and David Strathairn (Lincoln, The Bourne Ultimatum). It was a well-done show with ornate
costumes and a lavish set that was even more fascinating from the front row.
I’m certainly no theater critic, but I was most impressed by Chastain’s flood
of real tears in Act II and Stevens’ ability to completely snuff out his
British accent, transforming himself into an earnest Yankee.
After the curtain fell, Laurie suggested we find the stage
door to see if any of the actors appeared. As you might guess from previous Facebook
posts and squeals of delight via Instagram, the performers did indeed grace us
with their presence.
Somehow I found myself relatively close to Dan Stevens, or
Matthew Crawley as you might know him from the British miniseries, Downton
(And let’s be honest… he’s the main reason I wanted to see The
I passed our Playbills over a girl’s head so that he might
quickly sign them. Suddenly, space opened up, and I was standing right in front
of the actor, congratulating him as he initialed our programs.
Picture. I… I need a
picture, I thought to myself while fumbling to pull out my cell phone. He
just stood there and looked dashing.
Don’t act crazy.
You are starting to
look a little crazy.
Just focus on opening
the camera app.
Laurie asked if I wanted a picture with Stevens. No, no… I
didn’t want to bother him, I replied in haste. Meanwhile I attempted to snap a photo
of the actor while he signed another fan’s playbill.
But panic ensued.
My phone…my brand NEW iPhone… was completely frozen.
Apparently, he too was star struck by the great and admirable Downton Abbey
character. I silently cursed all the technology ever created in the world.
Click, click… CLICK! Nothing.
Now you really look
crazy, my mind politely told me. But augh! I needed a picture of Dan
Stevens, aka Cousin Matthew, aka the sudden love of my life. I’m not crazy!
Click, click… nope.
It wasn’t happening.
Right then, I almost chucked my iPhone at Dan Stevens’ head.
WHY NOW!? Whhhhhhy!?
Luckily, Laurie remained calm. “Just ask him for a picture
Brit,” she said with her camera ready.
“Uh… could I trouble you for a photo?” I hesitantly questioned,
with as much poise as possible.
“No trouble at all,” he smiled.
You should know that Stevens has a perfect British accent.
You should also know
that while I have a picture with him, my heart is not beating in said photo.
What a good ol' New York kind of day.
[Editor’s Note: I promise I am not as bananas as this blog
post may suggest, though I do have a certain weakness for all things British.
Also, my bashful iPhone and I are on speaking terms again.]
Laurie and I pre-show.
The cast was uber sweet and signed a ton of Playbills, despite the temperature outside.
Slightly touching, slightly bruising – we move through
periods of life at an undetermined speed, where the future becomes hindsight
and the present slips quickly into the past.
I was at a New Year’s Eve party near Washington D.C. only
hours ago, and noticed this so-called “drift.”
It was approximately 11:52 when I carefully climbed the back
of a couch in heels, and perched on a ledge above the chaos. My friends and I
held our champagne in noisy expectation, surveying the packed room.
The large crowd below us was also prepared. Everyone held
some sort of beverage while haphazardly watching the television pan Times
Square’s cold faces. (I silently thanked God I was not anywhere near Midtown, Manhattan.)
New Year’s celebrations are always slightly bittersweet.
Yes, it’s the beginning of the next chapter, and a good ol’ party is certainly
“Ten, nine, eight…”
But it’s also the birthday of time. And time seems so vastly
Take for instance, this party: Old friends, long ago
acquaintances, new faces, names I’ve forgotten… they’re all blending together
for this one moment in time. But it’s not enough! Within hours of midnight,
I’ll be back on a bus traveling to New York.
And then what? On January 2, time is more or less forgotten.
We retreat to our routines pre-holiday season in anti-climactic huffs. Another
year has passed and we’ve drifted in and out of jobs, relationships, and homes.
Sometimes it seems as though we’re counting down toward the
end, and not the beginning.
(Am I bringing you down? Well, I warned you about my
bittersweet thoughts on the New Year.)
The less sour side of my opinion reveals a more optimistic
How extraordinary the connections we form; how fascinating
our webs of finely-weaved hellos and goodbyes. Are there not so many people still left to
meet and so many intriguing opportunities left to conquer? The thought of
harping extensively on what’s already happened suddenly seems cruelly stifling.
The clock may be ticking loudly in our ears on January 1,
but it certainly never stops. So embrace this fluid motion.
Slightly touching, slightly bruising, or full-on crashing
into one another…
We drift on.
Happy New Year. May 2013 lead to some of your greatest adventures yet.