I woke up on Valentine’s morning before the alarm. Thin morning light lit my gray sheets, and I futzed around on my phone for a while with A’s arms wrapped tightly around my middle. Once we’d officially risen, I told A to stay buried in the covers while I pulled my drawers apart looking for just the right shirt to wear for the shoot I’d go to that afternoon (a recording of 3 monologues and a song to use for a bit of a demo reel, per my agent’s request). One of my favorite A’s is the mussed-up A, face still a little crinkly from sleep, eyes bright when open, and lashes soft and calm when closed. I had a couple of choices I’d bring, but the shirt I decided on was a navy blue camisole, slightly wrinkly at the bottom, but cut well and flattering on top (where it counts on camera).
I rehearsed my pieces in the shower while A sipped his chocolate milk (his daily morning fortification), and then we rotated. I made eggs and sipped a glass of water, favorite jeans on and a lazy-day flannel tied above my stomach. We watched The Office and waited.
At 11, a friend arrived to do my hair and makeup. While she futzed with my hair, A sat nearby, working on his book. She moved onto my makeup, and while we chatted too-much, awkwardly, acquaintance-friendly, while A did the dishes dutifully behind me.
With only a few minutes before our scheduled departure, I packed up the backpack with a few shirts, makeup, and my checkbook. We left hand in hand and walked in the bright sunlight and wicked cold ten blocks up to the studio.
Long story short, in a little over an hour, I filmed four pieces– a contemporary monologue, a British monologue, a Shakespeare monologue, and a Joni Mitchell song. A sat beside me on the couch, graciously, quietly, not really watching but letting me feel he was there. Somehow he always knows what I need. He accompanied me on piano for the song, which was what I was most nervous about, but stayed with me, didn’t get excited, didn’t tell me what to do or what he thought, just let me decide when enough was enough, or if a mistake was visible, and then backed me up on it. It was one of the most perfect “he-did-what-he-was-supposed-to-do” situations in our entire relationship.
Afterwards, we walked home, bought some soda, ordered a pizza, and stayed in our pajamas on the couch for the rest of the day.
Happy Valentine’s, love of mine.
A week later…
We had our real Valentine’s scheduled. A picked me up in a rental car outside of therapy at noon, and we drove to New Jersey, to the town where I did the last real show of my career, to the town where I got my Equity card, to the town where I made some of the most amazing friends in my life, to the town where I realized that my life was something different than my other friends’, and the town where I realized that there is a LOT to come.
I had an audition at the theatre (the first time back since closing!) and did totally fine work. The only people in the room were the Artistic Director (who I’m close with) and the reader. The role was a sexy twenty-something, and I walked in in my skinny jeans, hair down, and a sexy tank and she says, ‘Wow, you don’t look like you’re fourteen this time.” “That’s the idea,” I responded with a smile.
From there, I had A drive us down the road past the Buffalo Bill House, where we lived, and pointed to the window of the Anne Frank Room, where much of our courtship began. (If you are confused about what the Buffalo Bill House and the Anne Frank Room are and why this janky town in NJ is special to me, click any of these hyperlinks).
Then we drove down to the beach. The air was freezing, and because it’s the ocean, the wind was violent. I’d forgotten a hair tie, so I let my nicely curled hair whip around my face. A pulled his fedora down over his ears, and we pushed against the wind as we made our way off the boardwalk, into the sand, and towards the surf. It was clear that the storm had done a number on this tiny town (in fact, the theatre was one of the hardest hit professional theatres in all of the Eastern seaboard). They were repairing the boardwalk and much was cordoned off. But it was enough just to see the ocean, and remember the moment we saw dolphins leaping from the surf, the burning run from the cool ocean across the sun-heated sand to relief on the grass, the feel of the ocean water as it hit my body, the conversations and quiet moments with my book, friends nearby and loving.
We had time to waste, so we drove to the mall, where we wandered and joked about middle America and Jersey. We stopped in the bookstore to use the last of my gift card, and then around 3:45, headed back to the car. The plan was to drive to Edgewater and have a nice steak dinner before coming back into the city. But Google Maps (and yours truly) royally fucked up and we ended up deep in traffic on the Lincoln Tunnel, headed INTO the city. Crap.
A talked me off the ledge and we made a new plan– drop off the car, check into our hotel (yes, that was the romantic part of this evening), order room service and drink champagne, and THEN go to the ballet (the other romantic portion). I agreed, and we were off. We stopped briefly to grab a bottle of champagne (good thing we did, since a bottle cost $75 at the hotel), and after a few turnarounds (when you’re a walker in NYC, you forget that all the streets are one-way), we dropped off the car and brought our stuff to the hotel.
On the way up the elevator, I realized I didn’t have my phone in my pocket.
Nor was it in my bag.
Nor was it in A’s backpack.
We got to the room and I stayed calm and rifled through everything– throwing books on the floor and clothes on the bed, spreading everything out on the white sheets– to no avail. THAT was when the tears came. I felt… mostly just angry at myself. Because now this was a “thing” that we had to deal with and the whole plan of the evening had now turned into “where is B’s phone.” Also, I can’t afford a replacement. I felt like an idiot and I just wanted to go back in time.
A was wonderfully patient with me, and tried to talk me down. Didn’t work. I ended up just being mean. Finally, after grumpily picking what to order for dinner, A placed the order and left for the garage to see if I’d left my phone in the rental car. “I love you, you know,” he said as he walked out the door.
I moped for another few minutes, then lay face down on the bed and breathed. I calmed, then rose and walked to the bathroom, where I wet a face towel with cool water and began to clean my face. As I reapplied my foundation, the door clicked open. There was A, my phone in his hand.
I gave him an huge, huge, too-long hug, apologizing profusely, thanking him up and down and around till Thursday. We popped the champagne, ate the dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt I had purchased, then when room service arrived, sat and devoured our burgers (his, beef, mine, crab cakes) and fries. At 7, we prepped our final touches for the ballet, at 7:08 we had quick sex (if you read deeply enough to catch this, you win!), and at 7:15, walked out of the front door of the hotel, crossed Columbus, and entered the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center to see NYCB’s Sleeping Beauty.
Our seats were great (third ring, first row, dead center), and we both really love watching dance. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched dance as comfortably with anyone else (a lot of people don’t really get it… actors think it’s overwrought and silly, plebes get bored, my mother wants to talk a lot about it after). Afterwards, we stopped at Duane Reade to get ice cream and breakfast foods (yogurt and granola for both, chocolate milk for him), and headed back to the hotel.
We finished the champagne and ate the ice cream, did some other stuff, watched some Netflix on his phone (seriously… what is live TV?), and then, around midnight, both of us realized that we’re actually 85 years old and were really, really sleepy. We both read a little bit, then I curled up under his arm, half my body on top of his, just like every night, and we went to sleep.
I’m a lucky girl.
We woke up this morning at our regular time, 8:30, and lazed around for a while. We ate breakfast, watched more Netflix, took a long shower, and packed. I grabbed coffee on the way to work, and he headed down to get a haircut for Army. He has two days of Army “drill” this weekend (I don’t really get it… but basically it means he has to go to the armory and “work” from like 7am-5pm Sat and Sun, one weekend every month). I hate it because he’s gone two days, but I hate it most because he hates it.
The moral of the story, though, is threefold:
1. I haven’t blogged in a while, and I really should.
2. I had two amazing Valentine’s Days.
3. I love A. I love A. I love A.
Hugs and kisses to all of you out there.