I got out of bed long after I should have been fast asleep, compelled by swirling memories of New York. I was inspired, as I am each week about this time, by tonight's episode of Smash - by the gritty kid trying to make good, the innocent girl from the hinterland learning the rough trade of the theatre world, the soaring songs, and the dramatic stories. It gets me every time, but that's not unique to this show.
I was reminded, through the guest appearance of Bernadette Peters, of my chance meeting with Madeline Kahn. Meeting is too strong a word. I was dazed and awed by the experience of shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue when I heard her unmistakable voice. She was already dying of cancer then, and was shopping for scarves. I watched her for a moment before shyly smiling at her and saying 'thanks for the laughs' and walking away. When she died later that year I was glad I'd said something, even something idiotic.
My whole week in that city was captivating. As I've mentioned before, (more than once) when I think of my most alive moments, many of them happened that week. And so I return to those memories when I'm faced with deep questions about who I am and what I really want out of life. What was it about walking the streets of Manhattan, about spending two days in the Metropolitan Museum, about wandering and soaking it all in that was so ... inspiring, in the true sense of the word?
I've had other fantastic trips - some might even say bigger or more important trips. But for me, New York is the one what always draws me back. I've looked through my old photos - taken on what was then my first really good camera, and what is now archaic technology. Photos on film that were printed when I got home, and shoved in a photo box ever since. The secret is not in them.
What started all this looking back was this set of questions posed by Gabrielle Roth and posted by UberCoach on my facebook wall yesterday: "When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?"
I don't have any answers, yet. I just know the feeling that long ago me had - that Mary Tyler Moore spin around and throw your hat up in the air because life is so perfect and you made it that way feeling - isn't confined to New York City, and that if I can find it there I can find it anywhere.