"Do you want to come home for a couple of weeks?" That's exactly what my mom asked me in a late night e-mail from her iMac right before she went to bed last night. Her birthday was two days ago and in the card I sent her, I mentioned how hard this past year has been for me and that her and dad have been a great support system. When the going gets tough, which when you're trying to just touch your pinky toe to the edge of something resembling a Broadway stage, it's never not tough. So when this happens I tend to escape to the safety of my parents' swanky two-bedroom condo in Atlanta via Airtran Airways, even though the only place for me to sleep there is on a couch. It isn't exactly an inexpensive or quick way to escape the concrete prison I like refer to as New York City, but if I'm desperate enough, it doesn't seem so bad.
When people ask me "What do you do?", and I give them my autopilot response of "I'm an actress here in the city", the amount of pity and lack of interest in their facial expression accompanied by a vocal response you would use if someone told you they had just gotten their tongue pierced, usually says it all. We'll call this response...the face. My entire life has been this exact scenario set on repeat, just with different words, but always with the same response.
Them: "What are you majoring in in college?" Me: "Musical theatre." Them: The face.
Them: "Why are you moving to New York?" Me: "To be on Broadway." Them: The face, exaggerated.
These questions are then followed with a series of more questions, usually because they are trying to figure out why I am so...what's the word? Dumb? They ask me if I've done anything they might have seen, or if I'm in anything right now, or what I do to actually make money now as well as when this whole extravagant dream of Broadway doesn't actually work out and I'm left with nothing to show for myself, in which case they can happily whisper to themselves, I win!
Which brings me to the survival job. The job which many young women have already written books about and how it was the most agonizing, yet strangely interesting work they had ever done. The job a million girls would kill for. Babysitting. Yep, it's your classic cliche of young, bright-eyed girl goes to New York to fulfill her lifelong dream of performing on Broadway and instead fills her days pushing fancy, yet confusing, strollers through dog feces and slathering organic, salt-free peanut butter onto fifteen-grain bread, only to find out that that one particular child happens to despise peanut butter. And bread.
Working for the most esteemed and successful babysitting agency in New York City has put me in contact with the upper echelon of families in this fast-paced and competitive city. It showed me, literally, how the other half lives and that my entire apartment could equal the size of a master bathroom. Sondheim knew what he was talking about when he said "Hell, I'd even play the maid to be in a show". Too bad he meant play the role of the maid in a show, not scrape by on my hourly wage to save up for that new pair of 3" La Ducas.
I'm turning 25 later this year and for the first time in my short life, I don't know what I want. Perhaps through writing the hilarious anecdotes that are coming soon to a Facebook link near you, I can find that same bright-eyed girl that came here with the Broadway marquee in her sight line. Or maybe I'll find a different girl that's looking for something else completely.