It was the first day of Spring and it was snowing in Mamaroneck….again. My husband keeps reminding me this is the northeast, NOT Oklahoma. And while my mind knows that (and is very thankful,) my body thinks it’s supposed to be 60 degrees outside. But alas, at least this time, I’m sitting in my own living room.
Yes, we were one of the families who lost their power for 9 days in the last nor’easter. A 150 year old tree in our next door neighbors’ yard came up from the roots and crashed into the power lines. That was Friday, March 2 at 2:30 PM. Our power went out and did not return until Saturday, March 10 at 4:00 PM.
When I was 25, I was performing on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship that crashed in the Caribbean. We were stuck on the island of St. Maarten for 3 days before being able to fly back to the US with no water and no electricity. That was nothing compared to dragging two children from house to house for 9 days, making trips to the gas station 3 times a day to keep the generator filled (that we finally were able to buy on Tuesday so our basement didn’t flood,) packing, unpacking and repacking daily in a freezing cold house. Oh–and try to run a business and teach classes.
Well, the first Sunday after two nights away from home, I had to play Elsa at a Princess Party. You can imagine how happy I was about that. I was exhausted, sleep-deprived and annoyed. Being cheery and singing “Let It Go” was the LAST thing I wanted to do. And yet, that two hours, was some of the best of the whole week. The birthday girl was adorable and the family was so kind and wonderful. I was able to escape real life for a short time. I had no idea how badly I needed to do that.
As the week wore on and after crashing at four other houses, we finally ended up in a hotel. I just needed space and the ability to yell at my children if I needed to. (Moms–you know what I’m talking about.) I now had to prep for my performance workshops at the Courtyard Marriott. Again–teaching was not what I wanted to do. I had no energy, no focus, no creative juice left inside me. I wanted to cry because I what I REALLY wanted to do was GO HOME. At this point, there was no sign of when that would be happening. This was Friday and the last Con-Ed truck we had seen was on Monday.
But I walked into my cast of “Into the Woods” that Friday and they all hugged me and loved on me, which was wonderful. But more importantly, as we dove into the work of the play, I was again able to “get away.” Being able to immerse myself in something other than my unfortunate circumstance saved my sanity. And then it happened again the next day with “Urinetown.”
My point in all of this is that throughout this ordeal, I was reminded of the importance of art and theater, in a crisis. By watching witnessing or being a part of something artistic, we are able to open ourselves up to another story and perhaps, put our situations in perspective. Art gives us hope, makes us think. And it’s just plain fun. It certainly helped me not to lose my mind completely as the displaced Capelles traveled around that cold and trying week. I think the next time this happens, I will book a hotel in the city and get tix to three Broadway shows. Now THAT would make me smile. Even with no power.