Wednesday, August 08, 2012

NYC March 2012 Part One

I used to watch the soap opera Guiding Light which went off the air in 2009. It Introduced me to some wonderful friends online through message boards and Twitter and I met some in person at fan luncheons in New York City for Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, two actresses from that show. Because I’m a writer and photographer I shared my experiences at those luncheons here so others who were not able to attend could know what happened there and what it meant to me and maybe feel, at least a little bit, as if they were a part of it all. Because they were. If I had a nickel for every time the name of an absent Twitter friend had been mentioned by someone at one of those luncheons I could probably afford to go to the next event! If you’d like to catch up on those stories you can read about them here: 

The weekend of Jessica Leccia’s fan luncheon in March of this year began a couple of days early for me when Kathy (@Zoogirl) arrived to spend a couple of days with me in Maryland. We had been talking about our travel plans on Twitter and decided that she’d spend some time with me here in Maryland before and after our train trip to NYC where we’d split the cost of a hotel room.  I put her to work helping me make the buttons that would be included with the fan packets at the luncheon. Then she got to watch me stress out as my computer started making strange noises and I frantically backed up everything, hoping I didn’t have a failing disk drive. (I’ll finish that story later.)

My husband dropped us off at the train station on his way to work Friday morning. Thank you, Amtrak, for wifi on your Northeast Regional trains so we could tweet all the way there! I had assured Kathy that we could easily walk to our hotel, having checked the map and compared the distance to other walks I’d taken around NYC on previous visits. I wanted her to get a feel for the city and see it up close, too, instead of speeding by in a taxi.

We met Julie (@julieluvsotalia) and her mom, Marcia, at the hotel. It was too early to check in so they had checked their bags and we did the same before heading out again to eat lunch. I had noticed we passed a burger place, a bar & grill and a pizza place on the corner near our hotel so we debated our choices as we walked and decided on pizza. I’ve been to a lot of pizza places in my day but I’ve never seen a guy bring his unicycle to one (and that’s a sentence I never expected to write!). I couldn’t resist taking a picture. Oh, and Marcia? Thanks for the pizza! (Gotta watch her… she deserves a gold medal for fastest check-grabber!)

After lunch I called Denise (@jessiewolf) who had arrived on a redeye flight the night before. She was staying at a hotel where we’d split a room when we came for Jessica’s luncheon in 2011. I led the way as we walked just a few blocks and found Denise and her friend, Natalie, in the lobby. We didn’t have too long to wait before Jill Lorie Hurst joined us. After introductions, hugs, a few pictures, and discussions about plans for the weekend we left Denise & Natalie to go to their show and Jill led the rest of us toward Grand Central Station where she and I parted company with the others. Kathy, Julie and Marcia had plans to attend an event for @nycwriterchick and Jill had plans for me....

Jill said she’d called a few friends and said, “Donna’s coming to town! Let’s have dinner!” We took the subway to the Upper West Side to a great little Greek restaurant, Symposium, and were soon joined by my friends Lisa 9@ColumbusNYC) and Bettie (@bettielavin).  I’d met them when I came to Crystal Chappell’s fan club luncheon in October, 2010. They were followed by Mimi Torchin (@Mimi_Torch) and her partner, Liron Cohen (@SunshineLiron), whom I was delighted to finally meet in person after chattering with them on Twitter for a couple of years. 

I wish I had set a tape recorder in the middle of the table to capture the evening’s conversation. I’m sure we solved all the problems of the world at least three or four times as we talked about politics and soap operas and families and politics and Texas (Mimi & I are both Texans) and writing and politics and pets and the economy and oh, did I mention politics? Mimi had been reading my blog and giving me wonderful words of encouragement for months so I shared with her my idea for a book. She thought it was a great idea and urged me to write it, just as Jill had done when I shared it with her. (It's in the works. OK, mostly in my head.)

At one point during the evening I took a deep breath, leaned back and let the conversation swirl around me, thinking, “How did this little Baptist girl from Dallas, now preacher’s wife, end up here, of all places?!” I felt honored to be in the company of these fascinating women who had courageously pursued their dreams and led such interesting lives. It made me want to reach for my dreams, too.

I had my camera with me but I hadn’t taken any photos since we got to the restaurant, choosing to be a participant in my own life rather than observer. But as we were getting ready to leave I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t document the moment. I asked everybody to gather around for a group photo, handed my camera to our gracious waiter and had him take a shot of us all together. I think it turned out great!

Stay tuned for "NYC, March 2012, Part Two".....