I walked home in the rain but had a hard time falling asleep. When at 1AM I still couldn't sleep, I decided to go up to my roof and look at the sky for a little while. It was perfect out. A little rainy, a little cold but not too cold, foggy up in the sky and around the giant pointy tips of the Manhattan buildings, my Manhattan buzz still going strong, and it all made me happy to live in Manhattan.
Sometimes when I'm on the roof of my building (which is the exact same view from the roof of my old building pretty much) I look across 46th street to the Paramount Hotel. It's an older place, really pretty and groovy inside.... not too fancy or anything but a neat old New York hotel that they made all hip and trendy in what I presume was the late eighties, maybe early nineties. It's where we stayed the first time we ever visited New York. I point it out to people every time they're on my roof. I wish I could remember what floor we were on (it felt like the 1,000th as I'd never been up higher than three stories before) but our windows looked down onto 46th street and the sea of yellow cabs passing by.
My parents brought my sister and I two weeks before Christmas as a joint family gift.
"Now you know this means you're not going to get as many gifts this year"
My parents warned but they warned that every year,
"This Christmas isn't going to be as extravagant as last Christmas"
Which was always a bold faced lie they told themselves and their credit card companies.
My parents were New York pros, having visited countless times over the years for my father's business trips and to buy products for my mother's clothing store. They had the places they loved to go eat, sit, walk, watch, etc. Over the years I've heard about and gotten insanely jealous of all the exciting theater they saw in these visits..... the first thing they saw on Broadway right out of the gate was the original "La Cage Aux Folles".... my mom was pregnant with me at the time, I'm just saying......
For our trip they booked tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular which was AMAZING and "Beauty and the Beast" which was really early on in it's run, the enter original cast was in it. It was remarkable and enthralling. Our seats were in the front row of the balcony at the Palace which hung over at such an extreme angle that I remember legitimately fearing for my life every time I gave Tom Bosley entrance applause.
My sister and I complained most of the trip, we weren't used to walking so much especially in the winter cold. Any time we wanted a meal, we declined all ideas of exciting New York City fair and forced our parents to take us to McDonalds. We frequented the one on the corner of 51st and Broadway. I still feel an overwhelming sense of shame every time I walk by there.
We were there for a long weekend. On the last day, a Sunday, we were to fly back at 7PM or something like that. My father had the idea that maybe we ought to try for tickets to a matinee at the TKTS booth before we headed to the airport. So he went and stood in line as we sat in the diner across the way watching him wait. He knew what I wanted to see.... they all knew what I wanted to see..... it was the show I'd been talking about all week.... from the minute I saw the ads on the bus, outside the theater, in Times Square.... it was the 1995 Revival of "Hello, Dolly!" with Carol Channing. It was playing at the Lunt-Fontaine, right down the street from our hotel.... and even though I had no idea who she was, what the show was, who Jerry Herman was I had some weird tribal cosmic urge that told me
"LISTEN UP NINE YEAR OLD JEFFERY SELF. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT, NO VITAL, INSANELY VITAL THAT YOU SEE THIS WOMAN RIGHT HERE.... RIGHT NOW..... IN THIS SHOW!"
I didn't have to say anything when my father went to the TKTS booth, he could see it in my eyes what I wanted. I pressed my face against the diner window and watched, watched as the long line snaked around the booth in Duffy Square. My mother and sister talked and ordered more orange juice.... but I didn't say a word. I was transfixed, willing... secreting.... forcing the universe to make this happen.
Eventually he got to the window, was there for a while, then came back.
He had them, right?
In his pocket.... or his wallet.... he always put the tickets in his wallet. YES!
His wallet! Four tickets to Hello fucking Dolly.
He came back into the diner and sat down defeated and said,
"Hello, Dolly is too long."
Wise words from a man who knew not his wisdom.
"The show won't be out in time for us to get to the airport and to our gate. I guess we can just walk around Central Park or something."
Heartbroken. They paid the bill at the diner and we made our way to the park. We wandered around there for a while, every once in a while a cab would whiz by with an advertisement for "CAROL CHANNING IN HELLO DOLLY!" on top. Each time served as a grotesque reminder of my failure to fulfill what I still think was probably a great prophecy from beyond. We returned to Georgia that night and I never got to see "Hello, Dolly"
But I always think about that when I stand on the roof and look over at 46th street, like last night.... still there is the Paramount Hotel where I forced myself to sleep every night.... too excited to even close my eyes..... New York! New York!.... and just a few doors down is the Lunt-Fontaine Theater..... where it all happened.... my defeat with the "Hello, Dolly-ing". Stuff like that makes me feel like the universe IS doing something.... pushing and pushing forward or something like that. Either way I think thats pretty cool that I can see that from where I live.
I finally fell asleep last night.