Friday, December 28, 2012

Vignettes: NYC 12.26.12 - 12.27.12

"No gum popping. Gum popping. Gum popping."

"Zero tolerance policy."

We turned to look at each other, my fellow passenger, a black lady with a British accent. She rolled her eyes and gestured with her right hand, saying in silence, "What's up with this driver?"

The passengers obeyed. The trip to NYC passed uneventfully. I didn't need a pepper spray after all, vanquishing an acquaintance's hypothesis that I was headed for catastrophe by taking a Greyhound bus to the Big Apple.

She didn't talk to me during most of the journey. I didn't want to disturb her. Her back was towards me as she  rested. Occasionally, she would file her nails or moisturize her hands and face. The cream smelled good. As we reached the terminal, she talked about the only city in America she would and could live in: New York city. And in other parts of the world? London. Paris? Passe, although she could speak French. She was international and couldn't imagine living anywhere else. We talked about Hongkong after she found out I was from Singapore ("a bit sterile").

"I could live there," she said about Hongkong.

"Xi-oy" (Cantonese for water), she offered this word for mirth. I laughed.

"Yes! In the right tones too!"

"Hou!" (Cantonese for good) I laughed once more.

And she vanished into the Port Authority Terminal crowd.


8 hours later. Through cloudy dark weather most of the way, I landed at Port Authority Terminal. We had ridden into a winter storm. (Why did I leave sunny Richmond?) With a heavy haversack (not so when I was packing) and a big tote, I meandered through the never-ending frenzied hordes of people at Times Square. Snowflakes larger than the size of quarters pelted down my long past-the-knee goose-down outercoat; rain ensured I whip out my umbrella. Well, for maybe 5 minutes. My umbrella succumbed to the strong gusts of wind. Past Sephora, down Broadway, I trudged on. No yellow cab would go to my hotel. Walk I must then. Without an umbrella, I lost some verve, or maybe nerve, as to when and whether I would reach my hotel. $14.88 less later, I got another umbrella and persisted.

Down Broadway, past 6th Avenue. The hotel sign with flashing lights came into view.

I stumbled into my high-class dorm, with bunk beds, that cost 4 times my play ticket.



Heading out early. People-watching with a MacDonald's breakfast.

3 words. Wet.grey.cold

Am I getting close?

Who'd have guessed? Greenwich House=Barrow Street Theatre.


I relented. I would take the train to get to 42nd Street from Barrow Street (which was near 4th Street). It was too cold at 5pm to walk.

I got on the A-train and sat down. There were no announcements. I missed the Times Square-42nd Street station. It was already the 50th Street. Fine. I got out and hopped onto the next train to get back to 42nd Street-Bryant Park.

Out of the train into the streets. Amongst travelers who were frequently taking pictures. Posing. Grinning. Is it me? Am I too tired or just longing for the solitude to reflect on the powerfully visceral play I had trekked so far to watch?

The Port Authority Terminal building loomed large. I made it down two levels and found the station.


A young girl originally from Puerto Rico sat next to me. If I thought I was inexperienced at taking buses (Well, I'd always flown), here was someone who was more anxious, although she didn't really show it. It was her first trip out of NYC into another state in the US. I told her I'd never taken a greyhound before since I arrived a decade ago. She looked and voiced her thrill at finding a "good person" on this trip, someone as "green" as she was. It was a compliment.

A dermatologist-in-training. A dancer. She gives back to the community through dance. She made me feel better about myself and my dreams. I wanted to be where she was, at her young age she was doing much more than I was at her age. Or maybe just differently.

It was uncanny. We had both seen Tribes, Mama Mia, Jersey Boys, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables. She insists she wouldn't watch Les Mis in film. I laughed.

"Just enjoy the music?" I said weakly. I couldn't even convince myself. Russell Crowe ruined it.

Our conversation centered around arts, theater, and the translation of theater into movies. We both agreed. Movies could never replace live theater.

The back of the bus was noisy. Some guys were talking loudly. I wish the first Greyhound driver was here to hush him up.

"Zero tolerance policy."I won't be amused this time.


Chesapeake House. Alexandria. Fredericksburg ... 7 hours later, I was home.

She'd travel on for 8 more hours. "If we pay attention, we will learn new things we may never have learned before." #CrashCreativity course lessons prepared me in some way to be open to new experiences. 


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