new hampshire

Last summer I had about four dollars in my bank account, so I planned on spending my summer tethered to the sticky city. But yay of all yays, playwright Jordan Seavey asked me to participate in a workshop of his lovely, beautiful, heartbreaking new play “Listening for our Murderer” with New York Theater Workshop in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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So I said goodbye to my messy little apartment.

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Goodbye to Penn Station. You smell like foot and armpit.

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Goodbye to my fuzzy departure picture. That’s the thing about traveling alone. You feel bad asking a stranger to be patient while you fiddle with the settings on your camera.

Favorite things about my New Hampshire trip:

1. The seven hour train ride. Long, yes, but fun, too. I took off my shoes, slept, read, watched my Netflix, stared out of the window, ate a wilty garden salad. The only thing that would have made the trip better would’ve been the purchase of one of those tiny little bottles of wine. I would’ve gotten white and poured it over ice– instant happiness!

2. Spending time on a college campus was all kinds of fun. We stayed on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, and I found myself thinking about my freshman year at college. How fun it was to meet new people and decorate and grind through finals together. Communal living can be really awesome, and I was reminded of how we always kept our dorm room doors open. Our RA asked us to leave our doors open for the first few weeks, and we did it for much longer, and you could walk by or into anyone’s room, lounge on their Walmart-purchased futon, drink their crappy beer, and complain about classes.

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3. I know this runs the risk of sound a bit overheated, but spending the week with artists was really, really lovely. I sometimes find myself feeling a little bashful when I tell someone I’m an actor– I have shame about not getting work, and I live in fear of people thinking I’m yet another attention-hungry, insecure, self-interested aspiring starlet.** But spending the week with a group of people who love to talk about plays and books and movies and art and the big meaning of it all made me feel like I belonged in a certain way. I like dinner discussions devoted to figuring out what we’re up to and why we’re up to it, I like walks to the river with actors trying to figure out why this particular mode of expression is so useful, I like drinking beer with writers who are contemplating what they want to reveal about the world. Discussions like that are great, they make me feel less alone in the world.

** Which of course, I am all of these things. That’s the way it works, right? The qualities you’d like to distance yourself from the most are the probably the things that exist most strongly inside of you. And my adult self is okay with that…for the most part. But I think maybe because I went to a performing arts high school, and drama majors had a terrible, albeit well-deserved reputation– loud, attention-hungry, over the top, loud, dramatic, loud– I think I’m still a little reactionary. And while I shook my fist at the time and screamed that we were so misunderstood, fact is that all of those things were true– we were brassy and bossy. But we were other things, too, and of course that was the lovely part of high school– that at 15, we could still be sensitive and creative and patient and interested. So I try not to let my memory completely pummel that 16 year old drama student who lived and thrummed with neediness and the desire to belt “Les Miserables” numbers on her way to class.

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4. Last thing– early evenings. My favorite time of the day is between 4pm and 8pm. I don’t know why, but I feel it most acutely during warm weather months. I think it’s because of the time I spent at summer camp (ten years). After dinner, there was a pocket of time when it was warm without being too hot, when things had calmed down in a certain way. At camp, we had a little break before heading to our activities for the evening, and the whole world felt kind of still and young and alive. I felt like I could feel every rock underneath my shoes. I know some people have this feeling in the morning, but for me, it’s dusk. When your belly is full and you’re walking a little slower and you’re anticipating the promise of the evening. Every one of my New Hampshire evenings reminded me of those camp nights. Pure bliss.

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This post originally appeared on my first blog. I’m finally combining my separate blogs and wanted to include some older posts, so forgive any repeat readings.

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