Well, I’m on the way home with my dad and Joey. Car is about ready to burst with all my stuff. Why is it that whenever you come back from somewhere your stuff seems to have multiplied beyond reason?
It’s hard to see my experiences here as coming to a close. All summer I would talk about how I was going to New York. Then all semester I was living in New York. Now, it’s something in the past, something I did, which I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around.
The whole week has been a string of lasts. Monday was my last class with Sheila Barker, who I’ve come to admire and respect greatly. Sheila was one of the teachers at BDC that I made an effort to take weekly. Her class was never easy, she constantly would be yelling “Meredith, breathe!” when my face would be flushed with the effort of her warm-up. Even though I wasn’t in a program at BDC, Sheila gave me feedback and encouragement. On Monday during warm-up, Sheila came to stretch next to me.
“Is this my last class with you?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered sadly.
“Wahhh!” she groaned.
I really felt like I got her combo this week and the last time my group went all I could think about was how this was my last chance to dance Sheila’s choreography for a long time. I found myself lost amid the movement which was no longer steps and eight counts. After class, I gave Sheila a hug and she exclaimed how she’d miss me and how I’d better come back.
“You’ve gotten so much stronger,” she said.
“It’s all from you Sheila!” I know Sheila’s torturous persistence played a big part in helping me grow this semester.
Tuesday was my last Jim Cooney class. Jim was the choreographer of the Elf Yourself extravaganza I was a part of back in November. After working with him for that, I tried his beginner theater class, which I loved. He has been teaching an intermediate-advanced theater class the past couple weeks which I’ve been pushing myself in. His choreography both weeks was approximately the speed of light and he stressed the importance of performance…it was a theater class after all. After class, I told Jim I was leaving and his first question was, “When are you coming back?” I wish I had a more definitive answer than “As soon as I can!”
Wednesday I said goodbye to Chris Hale whose class I took maybe a half-dozen times. So many classes I tried later in the semester once I’d worked up the courage, which I regret. I should’ve thrown myself into those classes right away! As a result there were spectacular classes like Jamie Jackson’s hip hop, Ginger Cox’s jazz, and Chris Hale’s contemporary that I only got to take a handful of times.
I love Chris’ class because he is so anatomically conscious. His warm up always leaves me feeling so centered and strong. His choreography resonated with me from the first time I danced it and I made sure to let him know that I wished I could take his class every day.
Thursday was my last dance class of the semester with Chio. I have a special place in my heart for Chio because she comes to teach master classes at my home studio in CT, so I knew and admired her well before I came to New York. It was only fitting that I’d wrap up my semester with her.
The class was terrific. I went through the now familiar warm up and absorbed this week’s choreography quickly since I’ve gotten used to her style. When we danced in groups I was to the point where I didn’t need to focus on the steps, my body knew what it was doing, and I could really just dance. This was it, my last BDC class of the semester, and I was savoring every second of it.
But of course, noon came and class ended. When I said goodbye to Chio she insisted I not say it was my last class.
“You have to come back!” she said. She urged me to keep in touch via Facebook, wished me luck, and gave me a hug. When I walked to the locker room I still didn’t let myself register that next week I wouldn’t be coming into Sheila’s class, readying myself for another week of dance.
Thursday night, my painting career also came to a close. We had our final critique in the painting class I’ve been taking all semester. It was great to see everyone’s work up on the wall but I found it frustrating trying to say so much about each piece. Couldn’t we just look at them and enjoy them? I like letting each person develop their own interpretation, rather than having the artist explain what they were going for. But, I still shared my inspirations and talked about each of my paintings and listened as the rest of the class offered compliments and critiques.
Let’s be honest, I probably gave Picasso a run for his money this semester.
My goal this semester: slow and steady improvement, which I think I achieved! But when you look at that first painting…yikes, there wasn’t anywhere to go but up! Anyway, here is my work for you to see for yourself!
Marginal improvement…but improvement none-the-less!
After class I headed back up to the house and grudgingly started packing. No sooner had I started however, than the phone rang. It was Joey.
“Hi, can you come let me in?”
“It’s really cold outside.”
I very nearly sprinted down the stairs and ripped open the front door. There was my boyfriend in the Bronx, outside my front door, grinning madly. This was only part of the surprise though. Joey informed me we’d be going in to Central Park and taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage as part of my Christmas present. Now I couldn’t stop grinning.
The ride in the park was wonderful. I listened to the soft clip-clopping of Phoenix’s hooves on the pavement in the park and felt as though we were the only two in the city.
When we disembarked from our carriage ride, we were right on 5th avenue, so naturally I had to bring Joey to see the tree. That makes it five times for me! It doesn’t get old people! It just doesn’t get old!
Waking up at 8:15 this morning was a little difficult after how late we all stayed up, but the adrenaline of it being my last day made it a little easier. I spent the morning packing, and then set off to BDC for my last day at the office.
The day went along pretty normally with everyone (especially me) lamenting over the fact that it was my last day. Around 2:00pm, April asked me to go upstairs to the 8th floor and help Aubrey with some retail stuff. I counted some inventory and brought a few packages downstairs, then grabbed a sweatshirt out of the store and brought it back up for her.
“Great!” Aubrey said. “April just said she needed you downstairs again, so I’ll head down with you.” So we hopped in the elevator, went back down to the third floor and walked into the office where the entire staff was waiting and Mitchell was holding a plate of vanilla kreme donuts with candles in them (we all know my obsession with vanilla kreme donuts).
Hawaiian Christmas music was playing as April placed a silly purple straw hat on my head and everyone cheered and hula danced. I was so shocked I could barely even say anything! Everyone was smiling and laughing at how surprised I was. Then April said, “You have to open your present!”
In a black BDC tote bag I found super BDC sweats (which I’m currently wearing) and two gift cards for free classes at the studio (incentive to come back! As if I needed any). There was a card from April which I opted not to read right then, since I already felt tears welling up, and a large white envelope.
The front of the envelope had a picture of a group of dancers with the staff from The Pulse, only April had cut out pictures of my face and posted them over each dancer’s face so there were a bunch of goofy looking Meredith’s posing in the picture.
“You have way too much time on your hands if you did this,” I laughed.
I opened the envelope and pulled out a certificate.
“It’s for The Pulse,” April explained. “This entitles you to attend one of the cities on the tour!”
I was absolutely stunned and couldn’t manage to say much besides “Oh my, gosh,” and “Thank you!” I’ve always wanted to attend The Pulse but it was always way out of my college student budget. Now I’ll actually get to go! I can’t wait to be taking class with Mia Michaels, Wade Robeson, Chris Judd, and the rest of The Pulse staff.
By this point the tears were really flowing and I used the hand that wasn’t holding a donut to wipe my eyes before I really became a mess. I couldn’t believe all the trouble everyone had went to just to make my last day special. I got hugs from everyone in the office then April declared we were going out to Starbucks for my exit interview.
Those of you who’ve read along as I’ve written these posts (you guys rock!) can really appreciate how many doors opened for me while I was here. I danced as an elf at the New York Stock Exchange, I danced next to Radio City Rockettes, I watched auditions for Madonna, I met so many amazing students from all over the world who I’ll be happy to count among my friends even after I’ve left the city.
I’m so grateful to everyone at BDC for welcoming me into their family and helping me to get the most out of my time here. Everyone was so kind, which meant so much to me when I first started and was so intimidated by the world-renown status of BDC. I quickly found that even though we welcome students from all corners of the globe, BDC is such a tight-knit community. Teachers learned my name, I met and befriended students who I took class with every day, and I joked around with everyone in the office.
I especially need to thank April, the most amazing supervisor that ever lived, for taking me on as her intern. April, you were so patient when teaching me how to do new things and you opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed. You taught me so much while I worked for you and you trusted me enough to let me take on lots of responsibilities. When I left today, I knew I wasn’t saying goodbye to my boss, but to my friend.
I’m going to miss so many things about this semester.
First and foremost, my new home, Broadway Dance Center. I’ll miss the way the front desk greeted everyone who came out off the elevator or up the stairs: “Hello, welcome!” I’ll miss the hordes of students eating, napping, reading, stretching, speaking in foreign languages, and rehearsing outside studio four. I’ll miss watching endless classes from the observation windows and being in awe of the talent that surrounded me daily. I’ll miss coming into the office and sitting at my “desk.” I’ll miss April coming over to the coffee machine 372 times a day. I’ll miss my classes and all the amazing people I met while I was here. I’ll miss the daily challenges I faced in my classes as teachers demanded more from their dancers and the way I was inspired by the dedication of the other students; they moved me to work harder at dancing than I have in a long time.
Then I’ll miss everything about the city. I’ll miss the way the subways seem to sigh just before the slide into motion. I’ll miss the sudden appearances of break dancers on the train and the people who play guitar and don’t ask for money, playing just for the joy of playing. I’ll miss the way I always knew I came up the right set of stairs in the Bronx when I smelled the Italian place on the corner. I’ll miss watching flurries softening the harsh sky-scraper landscape. I’ll miss the friendly faces I met at my favorite lunch places. I’ll miss how amazed I was whenever I took a taxi and I got where I was going in less than 20 minutes. I’ll miss being able to give tourists directions and taking group photos for people by the tree. I’ll miss the ridiculous way Times Square never gets dark and Rockefeller and even the absurd crowds that swarm there on the weekends. I’ll miss cheesecake never being more than three blocks away. I’ll miss the almost palpable sense of holiday spirit that lingers among the crowds on Fifth Avenue.
I’ll even miss the Bronx and how the bus was never running according to schedule. I’ll miss the grungy D train (but not the rats that scurried along the tracks). I’ll miss the security guard on our street who always waved, the kids who stayed out all hours of the night playing on the fenced-in pavement and the Spanish music that is perpetually playing out of the building behind us. I’ll miss hanging out on the roof and cooking oatmeal every day for breakfast.
I know when I get home, everyone will ask, “How was New York?”
What am I supposed to say? This blog post is already obscenely long and I haven’t even come close to describing what it was like to be there.
Another question I know I’ll get is, “Will you go back?” or “Would you want to live there?”
That one’s easy: Yup. No doubt. I’d love to go back, with a few small changes…but that’s still far off. There’s school to finish up first and that’s enough to worry about.
I’m now 48 minutes from home according to the GPS in the car and I feel like I can finally start looking forward to everything I missed about home. I can’t wait to have a big bed again and a room that isn’t always either stifling or freezing. I can’t wait to see my family and friends from home and do everything that the holidays bring. I can’t wait to only be fifteen minutes from Joey and see each other every day instead of every three weeks.
I also can’t wait to see my school friends, who I’ve missed unbelievably this entire time. We’ve been scattered all over the world and we’ll finally, finally be reunited this weekend (barring cancelled flights due to snow…fingers crossed). That’s a reunion I can’t think about without getting that excited knot in my stomach.
So, folks, I think that about sums it up.
This blog was meant to be a personal account of my four months in New York, and driving home now brings that to a close.
With that, I bid you farewell. Thanks for reading and commenting and encouraging me to keep writing, I had an absolute blast the entire time.
Peace, Love, and Happy Holidays 🙂