I SoulJourned into New York City this weekend for the inaugural BroadwayCon event – a celebration of the musical theatre community. I’d planned for this trip for nearly a year, since its announcement, and could barely contain my excitement as I boarded the train that would take me into New York Penn Station. “I’m going on an adventure,” I thought to myself with a certain hobbit’s voice resounding in my ears as the train zoomed passed unimportant destinations. I walked with confidence upon reaching street level and felt the rush of electric energy with which NYC always greets me. However, through a combination of fear and insecurities, my journey took a spiritual detour.
A BUMP IN THE ROAD
I took a cab, by myself, to my hotel and this is where (in retrospect) my confidence level slowly diminished. The cabbie must have angered a pedestrian because my driver rolled down his window and yelled “Mother-******……”. To which said pedestrian replied, “Come out of the car, mother-****** and….” The cabbie spat a few more curse words, rolled up his window and continued on as though nothing significant occurred. In my nearly 20 years visiting NYC, never have I experienced fear like that. My heart raced and a sense of helpless overwhelmed my emotions. “You’re fine,” I reminded myself. “This is New York. It happens.” But it’d never happened to me and I didn’t know how to react. I wanted, simultaneously, to demand him to stop and let me out and scold him for his unprofessional behavior. Both the cab driver and I sat in silence for the remaining 10 block drive. I pulled out cash for payment and even included enough for a tip (?????!!!!). Then I proceeded to wish him well during the impending storm. I parted company with a half smile and wheeled my luggage into the hotel.
ITSY AND BITSY
Note to self: When registering for a conference or convention that’s held in a hotel, book a room in said hotel; the convenience outweighs the cost. Given my affinity for procrastination, I waited until the week prior to the convention to book a hotel room in NYC. I found a great deal for a hotel right in the theatre district and scrolled through the photos provided. It looked quaint and comfortable. I didn’t need anything elaborate as I would be spending most of my time at the convention. The reviews repeated “the rooms are small” but I brushed it aside because it is New York.
After checking in, I walked towards the hotel elevators and instantly felt as though I was in a classic horror film. The poorly lit elevator lobby extended to the interior and I shook with apprehension. The doors parted, revealing a continuation of ghost-like ambiance as I walked to the end of a narrow hallway and inserted my key card. Disappointment flooded my senses the moment I entered my temporary quarters.
“I’ve stayed in a cruise ship cabin bigger than this,” I declared to ease some of the tension building in my neck and shoulders. I shut the door and immediately locked myself in. I proceeded to laugh at the absurdity of my situation, one that I put myself in through a sheer lack of preparedness and procrastination. “There’s no way I’m staying here. Nope, no way.” My hands shook and a few tears slid down my cheeks, and I paced in circles (because there wasn’t enough room to pace properly).
I whipped out my sometimes-smart phone and searched for the convention hotel. “Maybe some attendees canceled because of the impending storm,” I thought. “Perhaps a room is available.” Just as I readied to contact the preferred hotel, my mom called. I did my best to not alert her to my discomfort but expressed displeasure with the room. She recommended that I check with the convention hotel when I go there the next day and see if they have availability. “She’s right. I’m fine for tonight,” I convinced myself.
“You have a busy day and an early start. Go to bed,” I instructed. But slumber did not come quickly nor did it provide rest. I listened to the shouts of joy and applause coming from the stage doors across the street and wished I’d thought of joining them earlier. Sounds of city life echoed through the teeny-tiny hotel room well into midnight, and I tossed and turned. I’d envisioned this experience so differently – waking from a deep sleep in a cloud-like bed, enjoying a refreshing shower and complimentary hotel breakfast before dressing for the day. I was determined to look my best as I ventured forth in this mini adventure. I could see it all through my artist’s eyes, walking into the convention with my head held high, business cards at the ready, and a song in my heart. However, I felt dirty, dingy, and far from refreshed when I woke on convention day. I layered up for the cold trek and journeyed on, leaving my confidence trapped in the itsy-bitsy room.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
I’d never attended a convention before, only conferences on a smaller scale (the latest focused primarily on screenwriting and writing for TV). I enjoyed those events immensely and knew without hesitation that I’d fit right in at the very first convention for the Broadway community. I was certain of a couple things:
- I would not dress up. While coming to convention dressed as your favorite theatre character was welcomed and suggested, I had no desire to do so. I am on the verge of moving from self-labeled writer to one of professional stature, so I’d be attending the convention as my own role model: Me, myself, and I. I would present an air of confidence, respect for the industry, and enthusiasm for those who bring it to us.
- I’d greet fellow fans and those in the industry with equal parts enthusiasm and respect. I’d talk about why I chose to come and take lots of notes so that I can write about the experience later. I’d interact with theatre professionals on an equal level and have thoughtful, although likely brief, discussions. I would speak intelligibly about my favorite shows and express appreciation for all the hard work that goes into each performance (both in front of and behind the curtain).
With my confidence locked in my hotel room like a twinkling fairy that children stopped believing in, I waited in the unexpectedly packed lines for registration to open. I saw numerous attendees dressed in costume and listened intently to their shared passion for theatre. Like an audition novice surrounded by performing arts graduates, I cowered where I stood. I felt out of place and inexperienced – as though I didn’t belong. I hadn’t felt like that in nearly a decade yet there I was, a grown woman, quieted by my own insecurities.
The excitement and enthusiasm from the other attendees, volunteers, and organizers should have been infectious yet I could sense my spirit drifting further and further away from my body. I met some wonderful individuals during the few sessions, but recognized how deeply entrenched they were in theatre whereas I am not. Yes, I burst into song at a moment’s notice. Yes, I smile until it hurts when talking about my all-time favorite shows. Yes, I feel the incredibly powerful energy flow through my soul when awaiting a house curtain to open. However, as the day went on I realized that as much as I love theatre, it is not where I belong.
I had only experienced the same feeling once before when I sat in orientation as a Vocal Performance college major two decades ago. “This isn’t right,” I’d thought then and that same out-of-body sensation tugged at me throughout day one of the convention. I felt out of place, out of my element, and as though I was on the outside looking in. I returned to my mini hotel room, packed my bags, and caught the next train back to Pennsylvania.
As the snow blanketed my surroundings the following day, a part of me wished I hadn’t been so hasty. Sure, I was home safe from the blizzard that soon overwhelmed both Philly and NYC, but I wished I’d reacted differently. Wished I’d been more confident because even though I fully embrace the realization that dramatic television writing is more my area of professional interest, I missed out on an opportunity that I can’t get back.
I’m moving forward, planning for my next adventure this March. As I do so, I choose to celebrate the highlights of my one-and-only day of BroadwayCon and learn from the opportunities missed. Check out my entertainment website (An Entertaining Idea) in the coming days for a recap of my BroadwayCon day one highlights.
All the best from me to you!