Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Have You Been Up To?

That's the question I get from a lot of the Facebookians that have popped back in to my life as a result of my finally deciding to go over the cliff. Unfortunatley, many of them I haven't seen since 1980 or so, which makes trying to encapsulate three decades of "life" rather daunting. But I tried. Here's what I sent to the wife of a teacher I was very close to in High School. Pretty much sums it up I guess:

Woooo ... that's a can of worms. Well I didn't just move to NYC as much as I ran away from home. I had done it several times when I was much younger but this time I had money and a way to book a flight. Not that I didn't have big plans for NY but mostly it was really about getting away.

The other thing I hadn't counted on was that I was running right in to the epicenter of HIV/AIDS in America, and at that time, people were literally dying in the street. I always said that if I had been alive in 1945 I probably would have rushed out and rented a condo in Hiroshima. So it was scary and confusing, and I had a lot of emotional baggage that I needed to sort out. I knew a lot of what I was taught wasn't true, but the real truth took me quite a while to uncover.

Of course it probably took significantly longer as I spent a good part of the last 20 years soaked in alcohol. I was either drunk or recovering from being drunk almost every day. Towards the end I started throwing lots of different pills in just to complete my entire homage to Neely O'Hara (Valley of the Dolls).

The entire time I was working full time, running some of the biggest , busiest venues in Manhattan, first as a bartender and then as a manager. There was no time (or desire) for auditions as my life pretty much consisted of drink and partying with other alcoholics I met through work. We would lose touch when the place ultimately closed and repeat with new people in a new venue. I bounced around Times Square, Greenwich Village, South St Seaport, whichever neighborhood was hot at the time.

I did manage to create one cabaret show that I wrote and performed at the Duplex on Christopher Street, but by then my confidence was shattered and I actually wrote a part towards the beginning of th show where I mix a martini for me to drink on stage. It was real and I needed it. I had developed awful stage fright and figured I was done performing.

Of course, mixed in to all that are disastrous love affairs (I would run, RUN! towards a cute drug addict with a hot butt - so I could save him!), friends and co-workers getting killed in accidents or murdered by lovers, losing my sister mysteriously and unexpectedly until I really became a walking Lifetime Television for Women script.

And of course it includes recovery and redemption. In 2002 I decided my 40th B-Day was a good day to give up my 2 pack a day smoking habit, and about 3 years ago I went to AA for help and got sober. So far, it stuck. I've had a few rounds of short-term therapy and many many walks and bike rides all over Manhattan convincing myself it was OK to stop running away. Finally. And I've met a lot of people just like me who give me encouragement and strength when I can't find it inside myself.

So it's not all that surprising that I was finally ready to resurface after 30 years and re-connect with a pretty happy time in my life. Because I'm at another very happy time, where I have found a measure of peace, and a large swath of contentment in a life that I feared for a while was going to end in a whimper, all alone.

I don't have that fear anymore. As a matter of fact, I don't have much fear at all anymore. I'm in a good place, and I'm thrilled to talk to you and ### again after all these years.

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