There was a roomful of people. All of them were artists in their own way. I was there with Pete. The only problem is Pete was a wise ass and he always had something to say. I had never been to a showcase before.
This is where actors do little skits. This was almost like a play, but not exactly. Each performance was extremely different. Some of the performers were talented. Others were a bit more abstract or bizarre.
I sat through the entire show with Pete sitting next to me. His comments were endless like gnats buzzing in my ear. Safe to say, I would have enjoyed this more if Pete wasn’t there. It is even safer to say I would have enjoyed this more if I was brave enough to be myself and admit that I aspired to be like the ones on stage. I never saw anything like this before. This was a live performance on a small stage in a small roomful of people. There was no plot or theme. This was just a performance of random things in a random order.
There was something to this. There was a dream in this for me. There was an idea I’ve had brewing in me since way back when. And I admit it. The thing is I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up —and here I am, getting closer to the 50 year mark. To be honest, I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. Maybe an actor. Maybe a playwright. Maybe just brave enough to pull off my trick and not be afraid to share it with the world.
I have ideas though. I still have a few of my young starry-eyed dreams and aspirations that I hold sacredly. I keep them with me, only, I seldom share them with anyone. I only take them out sometimes, like special little toys, to let myself know I haven’t forgotten.
I’ve seen a lot of things in my city. I’ve seen random acts of kindness and frequent acts of cruelty. I have seen homeless and wealthy and the needle-marked arms of people that could never get away from their own sickness. I have watched success stories and witnessed people fall from glory.
I have seen every walk of life on the shuttle train that goes back and forth from Grand Central Station to Times Square. I have seen nice places uptown and walked along Central Park West. I have seen the worst places too. I’ve seen the crack-houses and the dope-dens and shooting galleries. I have watched people whither away in long, drawn out nods in front of a clinic by 35th to get their fix.
I went up into a loft down in SoHo to do a little business once. There was a circle of people that were dosed on ecstasy, or “E” as they called it. They were sitting cross-legged on the floor, and massaging each other’s shoulders. There was strange techno music playing in the background and everyone was loosely clothed. They were a bunch of spoiled rich kids with trust funds. I remember trying to figure out if this was sexual or not. I was invited to join the circle but drugs were not my thing anymore. Besides, I was there on business with a friend. And everyone knows, business is business.
I think one of the more beautiful memories I have of the City was walking towards 14th Street during the sunrise. So much happened to me the night before. Not all that happened was good but not everything was bad either. I got laid, as a matter of fact. It is also a matter of fact that getting laid was one of the bad parts. I suppose this was just another night in the City. This was another dramatic entry to one of my journals. There was no love interest but only lust itself, which was selfish, of course. I was like a teenager on the hunt for his first kiss. I was always on the prowl and always looking to score, which I did, but after a while, the hunt began to bore me. In fact my life began to bore me. I was bored because I wanted more.
I wanted to see more. I wanted to do more and feel more. I wanted to be less afraid to try and be brave enough to dare. More accurately, I wanted to be brave enough to take the center stage and perform in front of a roomful of people. And to hell with the crowd. To hell with the critics. To hell with the wise-asses and the gnats, buzzing in my ear.
As for the night at the showcase, Pete had something to say about everyone. And sure, I nodded along. The truth is I admired everything I saw in that showcase. Good or bad, wowed or not, I admired the fact that someone had enough to ante up and take their places.
Somehow, I doubt anyone like Pete would have the stones to do something like this. This is how I knew to get away. Maybe this is why I enjoyed that sunrise walk so much on 14th Street. Maybe the sunrise and the fact that I was leaving something behind was both beautiful and redeeming enough to give me hope.
I remember walking around the West Village one morning and wondering if I was anywhere near the places where Jim Carroll used to go.
I wondered if I was near the place where Carroll wondered if O’Hara was there before him. I used to see some of the playhouses and the small theaters. I wondered what it would be like to be there and to go on stage, or do a reading, and delivering my dream to an audience.
I have this dream of mine, which is childlike and wild. No matter what my age is, my aspiration will always be young.
Who knows, right?
Maybe someday, I’ll set up a showcase and share my script to a roomful of people about a shuttle train and all the life that dwelled therein.
Come to think of it, I could use a few actors.