Through the half-wiped, window of my suffering vehicle, we finally looked out on lovely, downtown Secaucus, New Jersey, having braved the bumper to bumper traffic of rush hour, out on the washed-down highway. We pulled in sodden and weary, grabbed our second hero's luggage in a wind-whipped sprint from parking lot to front door and back to the lot, through the soaking chaos of the unrelenting rain, arranged suitcases in the trunk in a frenzied rush, stuffed our newest party member into the ruckus and flew on. And then there was more traffic. And more rain, and trying to figure our way into the City from this angle, and finally making it to and through the Holland Tunnel (which wasn't what we were going for), and then crossing over to the West Side Highway so we could bomb our way uptown to 78th, where the Triad Theater is. Oh, it was a hell ride, all of us cursing and spitting, shrieking our heads off with laughter while pounding the dashboard with the Madness - me threatening to chicken out, and not even get up on stage, and screw it, we're in the City on a Hell Ride, and let's just go out and have fun, damn the Slam. But no, they had brought me this far, they were going to deliver me at all costs, and I was going to have to Go Through With It no matter how unprepared I felt, no matter how unrehearsed and sloppy from the wet. So we found parking, and the rates quoted were high enough for me to blank them out and say, 'whatever, we'll deal with it later, we have to GO.' And the final two block hustle on foot ensuring the completion of my drenched-ness, where in the packed lobby of the theater I managed to let a guy who was yelling "$12 cover, 2 drink minimum. Cash only, there's an ATM across the street" know that I was supposed to be performing, but was rather wet and late, and he saw me through a door.
I was approached by a woman who was strongly suggesting I go backstage. "Should I tell my friends that I'm heading in?"
"You should go in the back."
"Well, they don't have very much money, I should make sure they can get in to the show..."
"You should go in the back."
"Well, I mean, if they can't get in, they'll be stuck out in the rain until..."
"You should go in the back."
"Okay." I went in the back, and figured my boys could take care of themselves, they would have to, and that I'd just have to get myself ready and do this thing, here I was, full steam ahead. 'The back' was a teeny room, with six or seven people squished in it, with a toilet-sized area that was separated by a door. I shimmied my way in, made my way to the toilet-cubby, and shucked my swim gear for the elegance I had the forethought to carry along in an old, American Tourister make-up case. Dressed and powdered, I emerged from the cubicle and finagled a place at the mirror to arrange all my hair (not very well), apply what I thought was stage/camera appropriate make-up (darker and more dramatic than usual), and accessorize with a few pieces of antique Bedouin jewelry on loan from my mother, from my grandmother's collection. It was a blessed miracle - I had not only arrived in one piece, but was as 'tv ready' as I was going to get without professional help, to tell my story Remembrance, with (hopefully) a few friends in the audience cheering me on. I attempted to read over the copy I had printed out and rolled up in my purse - crushed as it was from the many grab & stuffs it had been subjected to throughout the day as I tried to cram in that last bit of studying before go time - without much success, as I was more interested in hearing about my fellow tellers, who were they, where were they from, what were they telling, how prepared were they? One woman had flown in from New Mexico for the occassion, which put my 6 hour hell ride in a certain perspective, as well as the Sephardic Music Festival as a whole, for me. Then the hostess called my self-written intro 'adorable' and announced my name.
I walked across the stage, stood still before the microphone which I was shy of, fidgeted with my shawl as I mumbled and lowered my eyes through a shaky retelling of my poetic memory that seemed much less entertaining, emotional and amusing than it was on the page, looked quickly out into the bright lights that hid most of the crowd, and retreated to 'the back'. I felt...triumphant, embarrassed, stupid, elated, and free. I felt great because I had done it - because we had gotten there, because I had been able to 'clean up' in time for the show, because I had actually walked on to a stage, and attempted to tell a story. I was embarrassed because I was unrehearsed - I didn't act the piece as I would have liked, I would have needed a week's notice for that, not just a day's...and I attempted to qualify what I thought would be a lame performance to the audience by excusing it on stage beforehand. Seems like a big no-no, huh? A self-fulfilling prophecy, and a negatively self-imagined way to avoid dealing with giving the world little more than what is required to live in it, rather than reaching for joy. Stupid, I forgot half the story! OMG! I left this out, and that out, and I flubbed that other thing, and did I say that? Oh, lord! But I was also elated, you know why? Because once again, I immediately knew everything I would need to do it right the next time. That this was just the beginning of something really fun and exciting for me, and for a first timer (other than the aforementioned coffee houses), I didn't do as bad as a tragic disaster - I did okay. This was the final event in a week long music festival that coincided with Hannukah, featuring some of the biggest names in Israeli/American music and culture, with seasoned tv and theater pros. This was a big event, as witnessed by the woman who had flown in from New Mexico for the Slam...and here I come, some chick off the street breezing into their club and doing almost well. And part of what I knew was, had I done my prep work better (now here's the story of my life), focused more on the dramatic telling of the story rather than what I was going to wear, how I was going to do my hair, with what would I accessorize, I could have sewn that thing right up. Well, I could have been a finalist, for sure, but it was a freeing experience, the whole thing.
Then, after I had to spend the rest of the show in 'the back' because there just never seemed to be a good time to sneak out across the stage to sit in the audience with my friends, it was finally time to go find them (where no less than three people stopped to tell me how much they liked my story), catch up on our adventures, and find out who won the competition. They did make it in, the one friend having to cover the other, and had a $50 bar bill for me to pay, because they had been required to have two drinks each (before the competition even started, the lady who had flown in had a friend stop back to tell her he was leaving because of a dispute with the bar staff over not having cash, and wanting to use his credit card). Luckily, I had $51 in my wallet, not that the $1 would have done much, one of my friends had covered the $12 it cost us to go through the tunnel - there was nothing cheap about this evening, including the entire $40 tank of gas it took to get there and back. On the way out, The Hebrew Mamita was hawking books in the lobby, so I got to stop and schmooze her a second which was wonderful (♥), then it was back on the street with the boys, where it had finally stopped raining. Hooray. At the parking garage, they wanted $48 for having stored my car for a few hours, ouch, and we trudged on home with a happy vengeance. I believe there were even roadside cheeseburgers...all in all, it probably cost me about $160 to go down to the City and give a stuttered performance that didn't earn me a spot on the 11.5 minute video that got posted, featuring 'the highlights' of the show - every performer except myself and another woman. Mostly fine with me, I was a bit terrified at the thought of a video being posted, and granted the quality is not good, but jeez, was I that bad? I'd kind of like to know...you know? There aren't any pictures of me from the event, either, also serving up double-edged relief and curiosity. Weird crowd. But yeah, in the end, it was totally worth it - for no other reason than to have fun, and even with (partly because of) all the misadventure and expense, it gave me another story to tell, and so we are to the heart of it.
I finally finished my Bachelor's project, and it's time to move out of that story and into another. Add a few bits onto Nexus, get it printed up, show it off. Saint's and Kakiat still waiting in the wings, and now that I've stepped onstage, can I facilitate a group? I'm planning on heading back into academics over the Summer, how does that figure in? Talking stories...file it under 'Things I Should Have Known', remember the words of the wise-woman therapist, and get back to business, there's so much left to do, and so much joy to do it with!
here's the video - I was there! I stood on that stage and spoke, too!
*just a note about my two heroes - they totally had my back Tuesday night. I want to acknowledge them for their driving, the emotional and artistic support, for not letting me chicken out, agreeing to come with me and back me up in the first place, and for bolstering my self-esteem. You guys rock, I couldn't have done it without your help - I wish I'd won the celebrity judge's sister's cookbook so I could tear it in half for you to share! (seriously, that's a joke, I adore the celebrity judge, and I hope her sister's cookbook makes the NY Times best seller's list)