If/Then: An Auspicious Day
Saturday’s new Leo moon was in the 12th House of Destiny, so it was an ideal day to meet in person with someone I’d already “met” through a series of complex, fated steps to see a musical that interrogates the writ large question “What If?” in New York City. The City of Big Things if ever there was one.
I already knew Desirae would be a member of my “tribe.” Her careful, critically adept way of taking in a situation—of leading simultaneously with head and heart—had already convinced me she’d be a person on whom to place bets. Her love of academia and equal passion for one particular gem of pop culture makes her a kindred.
Frisco & Felicia: An Undying Love Affair (FFAULA) brings all kinds (and it takes all kinds. More on that later.), but Desirae’s commitment to the real and reel pairing created a through line that I’ve been able to cultivate with a subset of the larger group.
Arriving at New York’s Penn Station in the midst of a great throng of bodies training and de-training, I vowed to be more strategic about finding my mark than I was a couple of weeks ago when I met Selena. We’d pre-determined the Information Booth as our meeting spot, so I read the signs and headed directly there—no detours.
As soon as I saw her, I threw myself into her arms and I thought, “Wow. She’s only a little taller than me!” There she was. Smart-looking glasses, long brown hair, adorable face—my friend whose face I knew from pictures, but whose face I had never seen.
Emerging into the pale grey light of the day, we made our way to Starbucks for beverages—a grande Americano for me and a hot chocolate for her. It’s July, but we both love hot beverages all year round (see? A kindred!). Drinks in hand, we walked through the kaleidoscopic chaos of Times Square where any number of people suited up as movie and cartoon characters solicit you for photo opps with them.
And if that’s not your speed, you can pose with naked girls whose upper bodies are painted as the American flag. Before we moved quickly through the density of the populous I saw a five-year-old boy posing with one and I thought, simultaneously, “Now, that’s something this kid will never forget,” and “Why are his parents allowing this?”
“Do you want to call your husband, let him know we found each other and that you’re all right?” I asked.
She chuckled. “He said to me, ‘What if she’s a serial killer?’”
“A serial killer who rides the train to see a show, eat some Italian food, and off my victims?” What would my moniker be, I wondered: “The Cultured Killer”? “The Dinner & A Show Kid”?
We laughed and Desirae made the call.
Side note: Recently, a member of a ‘General Hospital’ fan club did kill at least one person in the group, but pre-existing imprisonment was a factor there. I couldn’t entirely discount Mr. Desirae’s fears, I supposed.
Just for the fun of it, we took a small detour through the mega Toys R Us to see the Ferris wheel inside. Children and their parents going round and round on a Saturday afternoon. I took a sweeping look of the toy store and all the faces—as many as I could—before we moved on.
Desirae pointed out the billboard for our show as we got closer to Rodgers Theatre and generously stopped to let me get a few shots and led me to better vantage points. “You might get a better one when we cross the street.” As simple a truth as it is, I was reminded.
The best way to see anything is from a distance. A living lesson about vantage points. I love both pictures I took that day, but the crisper one is undoubtedly the one I took after stepping away. I’m always concerned about losing sight of the truth and the tendency is to keep it right in front of my face so I don’t forget, but you can’t lose the stuff that’s tethered to you…
It’s difficult to stop moving in Manhattan—if you stop, you die—but once we were lined up outside the theatre, I was relieved to simply be standing there with my friend, trading anecdotes about her recent vacation to the Caribbean with her family, sharing incredulous impressions of people’s social media personas. It’s amazing to me that in a sea of mostly benevolent folks that certain relationships managed to differentiate themselves and emerged to bring me to the people whose vision is the most aligned with my own.
Our seats afforded us a perfectly centered view of the stage—all the action right, left, and middle fully available for consumption. For the next two and a half hours, I folded myself into the narrative of a protagonist who’s at a cross-section of choice and seeming happenstance. Having bought the soundtrack a couple of months ago, I was familiar with the general architecture of the story, but being here, now would supply me with those crucial transitional moments, the dialogue—the underpinnings of the story of this person’s life. There’s always so much we don’t know until we sit quietly and open ourselves up to the interpretation. The space between the facts and the events, the how you got there…
If you have the opportunity and the means to see If/Then, then you must. I’ll give nothing of those delicious underpinnings away, but let this suffice: Whether it’s now or later, you will encounter everything and everyone who’s meant for you. And if something, someone, some place is your destiny, it will intersect with the spectrum of your life.
I teared up thinking about all this—how I was sitting in a hushed theatre with someone that by all the facts of my life, I probably shouldn’t know. I thought about the fact that a car accident on Memorial Day night of 2010 is what led me to that very moment, and I could trace every step from then to now, but only from the distance time has provided.
The rain that had been threatening to come all day arrived when we left the theatre, so I huddled along with Desirae under her umbrella while we waited for an available taxi. After several minutes, we moved from the place we were and ducked into a discount store so I could buy a cheap umbrella of my own. She called a car service.
I’d decided when we were sketching out this plan that I wanted to go to Coppola’s because Jack Wagner has been touting it since his own stint on Broadway in 2000—and as recently as two months ago on Twitter. It was too delicious a beat in the story to ignore—too overt a nod to pass up. We took photos under the restaurant’s awning, deliberately leaving out the neon “Psychic Reader” sign that pointed to the business upstairs. Perhaps I shouldn’t have.
It’s smaller inside than I’d have imagined, but the intimacy and ambient lighting suited my sensibilities well. The full-bodied, gracious Merlot I chose eased my worries about everything—including about my recently cut and styled hair that I feared the humidity and light rain had undone beyond repair. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. Not too bad after all, I decided. I worry far too much and too often.
Because this isn’t a restaurant review, I’ll say only that our meals were competently prepared and that it was much more about a mission to completion and the intersection of worlds than it was about food. Even if the food had been awful, it still would have been something I had to do, some place I had to be.
On our way out, back into the daylight, we saw what we hadn’t seen on the way in. A picture of Jack from the Jekyll & Hyde era. He was mid-laugh and if the woman in the photo with him had been Kristina, it would have been perfect. But it wasn’t. Part of acknowledging destiny is that you can’t avoid the less than ideal moments—in fact, those get you closer to what’s right, what is perfect… eventually.
And this all reminded me why FFAULA exists. There needed to be something, some place where the work he did with Kristina is esteemed and honoured. The rest of the world seems to have a blind spot where it’s concerned, giving it even less than short shrift. Desirae and I exchanged a look that was the equivalent of a shoulder shrug and went outside to wait for our car.
A few seconds later, the manager came running out with my sweater. I didn’t even realize I’d left it behind. “I caught you just in time,” he said.
When our driver pulled away from the curb, he said in a subtle Eastern European accent “Your name is Desire-y?”
“Desi-ray,” Des said, sounding it out phonetically.
“Oh, Desirae,” he repeated. “I was pulled to this name like a magnet. Desire… I had to take this call to get you.”
Sometimes we are simply drawn—and even when we move away from what draws us, we’re often drawn back at the right time.
So, I was back at Penn Station with time to kill before my train home, charging my phone at one of the available outlets, and letting this all sink in. I thought about how I’d write about it—how the day had bent itself to storytelling like an agreeable friend who wanted everything to be what was most needed.
It was a generous day spent with a person whose generosity rivals her solid sense of the world. And I thought about how lucky I am that something so frightening and unfortunate that happened to me four years ago was not only the ultimate example of averted tragedy, but that it led to the best thing I’ve ever done or been part of in my life—and that energy is rippling out from me and coming back to me all the time.
I was pulled to this like a magnet.