Friday, March 25, 2011

NYC: Lost & Found

The first time I took the train to New York City I went with my family to celebrate my daughter's 18th birthday and found a new friend. Jill Lorie Hurst met our train at Penn Station and spent the day with us as tour guide. We adopted her as an honorary member of the family. Jill has challenged me to see myself with new eyes, to think of myself as a writer, and to tell my stories.

The second time I took the train to New York City, I went alone to attend Crystal Chappell's fan events. A generous Twitter friend (@valluv1) had offered to share her hotel room so I could go to a Venice event Saturday night and to Crystal's fan club luncheon on Sunday. Twitter friends became real life friends and I was amazed that Crystal and Kimmy knew who I was! As I took pictures with my new DSLR I felt like a real photographer again. And once more, Jill broadened my horizons as she brought me into a discussion about soaps with her friends, a former Soap Opera Digest editor, Melissa Scardaville, and a current writer for the Young & the Restless, Tom Casiello.

The third time I took the train to New York City was just a couple of weekends ago. I went to attend Jessica Leccia's fan luncheon, but so much happened in such a short time that I'm still processing it all. Instead of a chronological report, like the one I wrote about Crystal's fan club luncheon, I've decided on a topical approach.

Lost and Found: The Wallet

The first thing I did when I got to New York was lose my wallet. Really.

As I stepped off the train I thought I might have dropped something so I stopped and looked behind me. I didn't see anything on the platform or in the doorway of the train car I'd just left so I went on to meet Lynn (@Ceridwyn2) and head to the hotel where I was sharing a room with Denise (@jessiewolf). When I got to the front desk and reached and for my wallet to show them my driver's license I realized I did not have my wallet.

Oh. So that's what I dropped.

I called my husband and credit cards were reported lost and canceled. I called Amtrak, too, just in case someone might find the wallet and turn it in. I called Jill to let her know what was happening, too, as we had made tentative plans for her to meet with us later during a break from work. Lynn walked with me to find a branch of my bank and get a cash advance to see me through the weekend while Denise tried to get a little sleep since she had arrived on a red-eye flight that morning.

When we got back to the hotel I got a call from my husband saying he'd heard from the conductor on my train. He'd found my wallet... with everything – including the cash – still in it! My wallet would be going all the way to the end of the line in Boston and then he'd put it on another train back to New York the next morning for me to pick up at Penn Station.

When I called Jill to tell her the news that my wallet had been found she said, “You have some kind of crazy karma, young lady!” I replied, “I. Am. Blessed!” The next morning I walked to Penn Station, picked up my wallet that had just arrived on the train from Boston, took a cab to Brother Jimmy's and got to Jessica Leccia's luncheon before it started.

I'd like to say that the wallet was the only thing I lost during the weekend, but it wasn't. I got all the way back home to Maryland before I realized that the fan packet I'd received at Jessica's luncheon, along with the things she had autographed that were in it, did not make it home with me. I put a quick inquiry out on Twitter and discovered that it had been found at Brother Jimmy's, where the luncheon was held, and is being mailed to me! Thank you, Sharon (@golffitz) and Val (@RdBlaz) and Brother Jimmy's! Oh, and my lost hotel key card turned up in the laundry once I got home, too, having apparently been tucked away in the one pocket I did not check at the hotel in New York.

For the rest of my stay in NYC, if anyone around me dropped or lost anything, someone would look at me and say, “It's contagious!” I know Somebody was looking out for me all weekend and my friends took very good care of me! Thank you, all!

Love, Loss and What I Wore

Friday night, Denise and Lynn and I had dinner with a couple of Denise's friends at the Westway Diner, then Denise and I went to see Kim Zimmer in “Love, Loss and What I Wore” at the Westside Theater. I knew what this show was about ...using clothing and accessories to bring out women's stories about life... and I knew it would be good. But I didn't expect it to affect me the way it did.

I think I cried for the last twenty minutes of the show.

It was funny, touching, hilarious, poignant... did I mention funny? So many of the stories struck a familiar chord with me and reminded me of myself or women I've known and/or been related to throughout my life. But I lost it when they put up the drawing of a little girl who had been playing dress up in her grandmother's closet. The grandmother took such delight in her granddaughter's imaginative play and I couldn't help but think of my mother and my mother-in-law and all the times my two daughters had done the same thing.

Specific photographs I'd taken of my girls came to mind, all dressed up in their grandmother's clothes, hearing my mother talk about how much fun she'd had painting my niece's fingernails and doing her hair, watching my older daughter dress up her little sister to put on a play in front of their grandmother's fireplace... all these things danced through my mind as tears quietly ran down my cheeks. And I promised myself that I would do all I could to preserve these stories and tell them over and over again to my daughters and nieces and their daughters, too, now that my mother and mother-in-law are both gone.

And then the voice of the author came from the stage, saying she couldn't imagine how anybody would want to publish a book of her little personal stories. But they did. Because the stories were personal for other people, too.

During the past year or so, I've been thinking about writing a book. And much of what I've thought of writing are my own “little personal stories”. I've wondered if I could do it. I've wondered if what I wanted to say most has already been said by someone else, better than I could ever say it. I've wondered why anybody would want to read it since much of what I'd thought of writing is just things I've lived through.

I've always thought that everybody has a story. And as I sat in the Westside Theater, with tears streaming down my face, I thought, “OK. I get it, God. It's time I told mine.”

And that was Day One of my weekend in New York City.

It began with a wallet lost.

It ended with a purpose found.