One of the things I’ve been working the hardest on in my recovery (and there are a LOT of things) is being able to feel alive again. Back in May, I got an email from The Writers’ Store that said Jen Grisanti was going to be leading a TV writing workshop in New York in August and my intuition was practically screaming at me to go. I knew I was going to be leaving my job in the next couple of weeks and couldn’t really afford a vacation, but I knew I had to go. I’m proud to say that I went this weekend and my trip was even more amazing that I imagined it would be.
But let’s rewind for a second because the beach is where it started.
I’m a Pisces, so being around water is something that I need more often than not; and even though I live on the Atlantic Coast, I don’t get to the beach nearly as often as I should. In June, I went to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for the first time in nearly three years. The last time I went was not a good memory for me even though I love the town, so I talked my family into going since they’d never been there. As it turns out, digging my toes into that cold sand under a glorious sunset was just what my soul needed. It was a much needed first step towards reconnecting with the Universe, humanity, and myself – something that I’ve been looking for a way to do for a long time. We ate sandwiches at Louie’s Pizza with a big shared bucket of Thrasher’s fries, went to a fun little restaurant on the main drag called Dos Locos, and I finally got a nice kite and a little steel model of the Empire State Building that you can put together at the Rehoboth Toy and Kite Company. Everyone had such a good time that we went back in July and Lord Voldemort came with us the second time.
I got a tan! I had delicious non-dairy ice cream! I got my pants all wet getting smacked by a wave! (Trust me; this happens nearly every time I try to dip a limb in a natural body of water, no matter how calm it is.) I was so relaxed that I even started going to bed at a decent hour; but when we returned home, I was once again stuck in my stagnation suckhole. I was stuck on the pilot I’ve been working on, paralyzed by the prospect of freelancing (even though I know I can do it), and falling into a major funk of the monotony of every day. I needed a way out of this that no amount of mediation/affirmations/exercise /journaling/personal growth has been able to fix. Dent, yes. Fix, not so much. But I was still really happy! (Gratitude – now that will get you somewhere.) And I knew my trip to New York was coming up! I love New York City. I really, really do. It’s a known fact that I really wasn’t on board at first, but it grew on me like a fungus on the subway walls. Like all true loves, mine has grown over time; and after this trip, I love New York now more than ever.
I took the Amtrak up on Friday morning and the creative juices were flowing by the time I got to Philly. CC#1 serenaded me and then I put on a little Frankie Valli (I just have to listen to the Four Seasons when I’m in Jersey. It’s an internal law. They’re my all-time favorite group and it makes me happy. And we all know how much I love Frankie.) Stuff just started to flow.
I’d written another couple of pages of notes in the next half hour or so; and by the time I saw the New York City skyline, I felt this indescribable feeling of being at home. At true peace for the first time in a long time. I got off the train and walked over a mile in 94-degree heat (read: melted for the first of many times this weekend) with a suitcase and a bag and ended up walking further than I had to because I couldn’t find my hotel. And I was totally okay with that.
You’re probably asking, “Melissa, why didn’t you just get a cab?” The answer to that is one of the following: I didn’t want to spend the money, I like the exercise, I like to explore, or I’m a glutton for punishment. Probably all of the above.
I stopped and asked a couple of different people a couple of different times which way the Mayfair is, and they both pulled out their phones and Google Maps’d it for me. New Yorkers get such a bad rap for being rude, but I have yet to meet a surly New Yorker. They’ve all been quite pleasant.
Finally, after about an hour of going, “Where the hell is it? It’s supposed to be right here!” I realized that I passed it about four times without even noticing. It’s an adorable little walkup that was probably once someone’s house at the turn of the century (I truly love those kinds of hotels) right in the heart of the Theater District (which I didn’t even realize – score!) only half a block from Times Square, right next to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. I was in heaven. For real. But let’s talk about this room because I just fell in love with it.
Little nooks! That wallpaper! Remote controlled air conditioner! A step-in closet! How adorable is this? And with soundproof walls? YES! (*Note: You know you’re in New York when you ask how soundproof the soundproof walls are and the staff doesn’t think you’re weird. I have singing exercises to practice every day and night. I’ve been taking singing lessons since May. I’ve always wanted to. I’m pretty fantastic and it’s lit a whole new fire in me.) I also found a great little plaza that would become one of my favorite little spots for the duration of my trip right behind Mother Burger.
Jen’s workshop was OUTSTANDING and I came away with some new friends, some new perspective, and a little more internal angst than I’d gone in with but in a good way. Basically, I’d been advised that I have to make sort of a Sophie’s Choice of dreams, at least in the beginning, and put laser focus on only one of them. One requires me to be in New York, the other in Los Angeles. I’m still trying to figure out which one to pursue first because I love both of them equally.
After the workshop finished on Saturday evening, I just wanted to walk around the city and explore a little more. It’s something I do every time I travel, even if it’s somewhere I’ve been many times, because I always find something new. I’d never thoroughly explored Broadway/the Theater District, so I went on a mission to see as much as I could. I found the August Wilson Theater (home of Jersey Boys) and the Neil Simon Theater (hooray!) at exactly the wrong time.
It was a fortuitous thing because I met a really cool couple coming out of Cats, which has apparently revived and stars Leona Lewis! (I still love Bleeding Love.) This just happens to me in New York. I always make friends with a really cool couple. I also found out that I was right down the street from Caroline’s, I watched a guy light a cigarette with a candle lighter, got catcalled a couple of times (I think – it wasn’t in English or Spanish), saw another couple having a nothing fight, melted some more, found a Scientology church, and had a Frozen Blue Hawaiian at Caffebene – delicious. Refreshing, too. Highly recommend. Oh, and I melted some more.
On Sunday morning, I was really hankering for a bagel before I had to check out at noon, so I checked out Yelp! and found a place nearby that had tofu cream cheese. I took the long way around again; but I eventually found Pick A Bagel, a little place on the outskirts of the Theater District that is famous for great bagels and long lines. I’m happy to say that it moved quickly and the bagel was absurdly huge, delicious, and filling. I checked out and hung out in Central Park for about three hours, got some information from Ellen’s Stardust Diner (if you haven’t figured out Dream #2 yet, you should know by now), picked up my bags, watched my phone almost get run over, and melted some more.
More places that I checked out (and you should, too):
- Blossom du Jour – Hell’s Kitchen – I got the Buffalo Wrap and wasn’t disappointed.
- Pick A Bagel – Theater District – Whole Wheat Everything with Tofu Cream Cheese (YUM!)
- The Pocketful Food Truck – Falafels are excellent and the pockets are enormous
- ScentElate – 48th Street – A tiny crystal store with a lot of cool gems and metaphysical stuff
On the way home, I was still buzzing with creative energy when I got stuck in the Great Northeastern Corridor Fiasco of August 14th, 2016 (Train 135 – woot woot! More on this and how I dealt with the absurdity of it over at melissawillis.net. Here’s the link.) And I finally put together the little Empire State Building model today.
I feel so rejuvenated, so creative, so inspired, so sure that good things are going happen for me, and that both of my dreams will survive and thrive no matter which I choose first. My intuition and the Universe will make sure of it. I came away a different person – the thrill of Broadway and all of its possibilities still pulsating through me – one who’s not just living, but truly alive. That, my friends, is priceless.