Packing up your life to make it look better to other people is one of the dreariest of jobs. Also back-breaking, irritating and illuminating of things you don’t want illuminated.
“Everything makes me sad,” I said, as we drove through the city on our way out of town on a recent Saturday. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but I felt its effects. We are making plans for the move I have wanted to make for nearly 20 years. To our home in Narrowsburg, NY, as full-time residents. I should be gloriously happy.
It was getting to be too much for us. Even the thought of February made me shudder back in December. So it was against frugality we made plans for a week in Costa Rica again. It was something to look forward to in the darkest, coldest months.
We are actors in a break room in an office building on the far west side of Manhattan. It could almost be any city bordered by water for all the new office buildings going up around it. I hardly recognize my hometown anymore, especially in neighborhoods that once lay fallow.
I can’t tell you the name of the show, or the network, or the stars I may have played next to, but I can give you a glimpse inside the day of a background player on a TV series being made on the set of a major studio in New York City.
I’m having a hard time getting in the spirit this season. November knocked me out, first with a killer flu complete with fever, bad dreams and a deep cough, then a residual vertigo and persistent ennui. My daughter cooked our Thanksgiving dinner, which we limited to immediate family to prevent transmission of the virus.
No one has ever accused me of being particularly funny. I can usually elicit a warm, hearty laugh from my husband for my sharp wit, but he never suggested I take my act on the road.
I called him Beau because he was beautiful. When I first saw him, he was little more than a football-sized shape that became more defined as I got closer. A hawk’s beak, a wing half-extended. I stopped the car and walked back to him. He watched me but didn’t budge. I spoke calmly to him. His head swiveled to keep me in sight.
“Perhaps the most revolutionary act for a woman will be a self-willed journey—and to be welcomed when she comes home.”
— Gloria Steinem, “My Life on the Road”
Summer. Why can’t it be ever thus? Birds of every feather on the wing. Morning glories climbing on the trellis, bees and hummingbirds hovering over blossoms. In places like this, part-timers like me are ensconced in our getaway lives, sinking into our passions, painting or writing or sawing wood. Seeing.