I started walking… not even looking at Emma who was on line at the Royal Opera to get tickets for Sunday’s matinee. “I dropped my jacket somewhere” I moaned in her direction as I headed in the opposite, retracing my footsteps, out in to Covent Garden, around the corner, then right, past the Lion King, crossing the street where we came from, eyes focused towards the ground… on to Waterloo Bridge, looking down, left, right, for the matching jacket to my pants, that I was carrying on my arm because of the extraordinary warm weather… If you lose it, you’ll find it, I kept repeating, speed walking across the Thames. It’s ok…you can still wear the pants… Or maybe it’s time to toss them…you don’t really need them… I was across the bridge on the other side when, feeling droopy, I texted:
TEXT to Emma (2:01pm)
Walking back to you now
TEXT to Emma (2:07pm)
Just found it! At the foot of the bridge – our side, where r u?
TEXT from: Emma (2:11pm)
At the Opera House didn’t want to move
But I didn’t lose my jacket. And finding it felt like winning — even though the only thing I won was my own jacket which I’d just convinced myself I didn’t need… At least I didn’t lose something. And Emma wasn’t upset that I disappeared… She was able to score a pair of Opera tickets for the otherwise sold-out Sunday matinee. That win cost a mini fortune — still, we felt victorious.
But oddly enough, her iPod fell out of her purse later that evening –and Sunday, I lost the stone to a ring I bought just a few hours earlier. Craaazy...!
And even more craaazy?
We found everything... Her iPod was at the theater two days later when we could finally get back there to check –band although we didn’t find the stone to my ring, we were able to exchange it for one (let’s hope) with better glue.
Also amazing, the TONY nominations were announced the day before Emma popped out of the cab in front of Ian and Anita‘s houseboat (our London hosts and friends of mine since the 1990s) on Taggs Island, Hampton Court. Our show made history again, garnering 12 TONY nominations despite having lasted only 2 months on Broadway. (So we shopped for our TONY dresses and found those too – ahha!) That unexpected validation from the theater community had a tremendous heeling effect on all of us involved in the production. Congratulatory emails came flying in –and coming, as they did, 3 weeks before going home, they seemed to be signaling a promising re-entry back into a life I’d been drifting away from…
Emma was over for 5 days — so apart from looking exactly the same as the last time we’d seen each other on our computer screens (merci SKYPE), from Thursday to Friday and Saturday to Sunday, I was putting one foot in front of the other in the sister city to NY/Broadway with interesting results: i.e., seeing a bunch of shows because Emma wanted to -and it was easy, slipping into “theater mode.” And meeting a couple of theater folks in London she knew –who are now interested in licensing some of my shows… And when Nelle (my mentor) showed up in London the following week --she made me a job offer—starting in June.
I was getting my jiggy back.
And then Anita, a gentile beauty at 71 with a shockingly hippie past, confided that she was having a difficult time adjusting to her mandatory retirement and dutifully dealing with an invalid mum she doesn’t particularly like. A migraine paused our conversation while Emma was there, but Ian took off on a business trip shortly after Emma left for NY and Anita and I were drawn right back in to conversations about aging and parent/child relationships. She had a difficult childhood (an abusive step-dad and a flirtatious mom) and she blames her mom for all of it. “I was alone,” she said, the hurt still very much on the surface, “raising two young children on my own…”
But she wasn’t really alone… Her mother, who is still alive, was alive then too. If Anita had known how to reach out to her mom, she might have come through for her a hundred times since then. “Surely as a woman, as a mother,” I gently intimated, “you can understand that now… You don’t have to forget, but you can forgive her…?” Anita still has a shot at finding what she’s been missing. But as smart and intelligent as she is — even with a wonderfully challenging daughter of her own — she won’t.
As I listened to her, I thought about Brielle, who, terribly affected by our divorce, accuses me of not being around when she was younger. Yet I worked from home and was very much present. I understand, her perception is her reality and although she may grow out of it, she could be telling someone Anita’s story – but about me, someday.
Anita still has her mother but I don’t.
And that thought led me to be suddenly struck by everyone who took care of me along the way. I didn’t ask them to; I even laughed at much of what they did, “mothering” me. I was listening to Anita but I was coming up empty. All that nurturing was behind me; I was out-of-sync with my friends in NY… I’m not going to find my parents at the foot of the Waterloo Bridge.
I woke Anita up the next morning because I wanted to cry with someone and I knew she was there. She didn’t mind; she said she expected that was coming. Maybe because I was so close to going home — or maybe I was feeling lost.
Eventually the conversation got around to men and she asked me what I wanted. “Someone successful in my business would be nice,” I managed a smile.
I found him on the train to Waterloo later that morning. Tall, handsome, divorced… he’s a successful business coach and professional comedian. We exchanged cards, he emailed and we met for lunch on my last day in London. Turns out, he’s a hands-on dad with four kids -his oldest has cerebral palsy but they are a together family and he’s worked his career around his need to provide a presence for them. He’s a good man and although it’s likely I’ll never see him again, I gave him a made-for-Hollywood lip-smacker when we parted — because we were both grown-ups trying to make it work – and maybe I was kissing London good-bye.
Emma and I laughed at our foibles and enjoyed each other’s company enough to trigger my focus on home. Just because you think it’s lost doesn’t mean it is. Sometimes it’s a matching jacket or a stone in a replaceable ring… But ultimately it’s the little victories that make it okay, especially when you wind up with yourself.
NOTE TO SELF: Take jacket to the cleaners.