Monday, August 17, 2009

Ten Years

Well, today marks a milestone.

What? No, not this guy's birthday, you fools! Though yes, that is today.

Today marks my 10-year anniversary of moving to New York.

That's right. Tuesday, August 17, 1999, I moved to New York. My first apartment (of sorts) was on East 6th between Avenues A and B. It was a friend of a friend's vacated and barely-furnished apartment where Ben VandenBoom, Matt Wexler and I stayed/semi-squatted for two weeks rent free before I moved to my first proper address on East 14th between First and Second Avenues.

At the East 6th apartment, we had one of those portable faux couches in the living room (really just an oversized couch-shaped cushion) and slept on inflatable mattresses in tiny windowless lofts. We didn't have cell phones at the time (oddly enough, pagers were still in when I moved to the city) and the landline was disconnected about halfway through our stay. This was actually fine. We didn't have any real obligations to anyone (we weren't paying rent in the semi-empty apartment) and had enough working payphones in the area if we needed to get in touch with someone.

I find it odd to consider that I'd often use the Twin Towers and Empire State Building as my compass points to find my way back home after nights of heavy drinking. ("Ssssooookay...I'mmmon...Ninth. Need to go to...Ssssssssixth. That's...[Counts on fingers.]...downtown. Thosearethetwintowers. Those are...downtown. Sssssssso I needtogo... [Pointing in the direction of the World Trade Center.] thisssway...togethome.")

And the fun aspect for an aspiring playwright moving to New York was that I had landed right when the Fringe Festival had started. Bear in mind this was when most of it took place in the East Village rather than the West Village now. Plus, this was waaaaay before I had any time to be hip, cynical and jaded about the festival. So at the time, it was nice to be coming to a city where a ton of low budget, indie theatre shows were taking place all around the neighborhood I was staying in.

I can't remember when Ben and I first met up with Pete in the city (he had moved to New York a week or so before me). It may have been the first week, but I actually can't be too sure. It was definitely before I moved to 14th Street. It was at a pool hall/bar in the Lower East Side. We talked about still being interested in theatre, but how both of us lost interest in acting.

The Fringe at least gave me (and perhaps Pete, but you'd really have to check with him) the feeling that it was very possible to put on plays in New York quickly and cheaply. Is that true? That's a huge debate that will never end (and one I don't want to get into at the moment). Regardless, it was that feeling (however naïve) that allowed Nosedive Productions to start existing a few months later.

And I won't get into the formation of Nosedive. Seriously. I've told that story enough. You all know it.

It's kind of overwhelming to contemplate the number of events I've participated in and/or observed in the past 10 years here in the city, major and minor, citywide and personal, from forming my own theatre company in 1999/2000 to September 11 to the blackout in 2004 to the too-many-to-count plays I've staged to the seriously-good-lord-too-many-to-count plays I've seen to witnessing my favorite bar (The Raven) get gutted by a fire to the people I've formed very close ties with.

In a way, it feels both like I just moved here, and have been here all my life.

And it's still amazing to consider that, in the 10 years I've lived here, I've still never been to the Bronx Zoo, MoMa, the Whitney, gone to the top of the Empire State Building, or seen a Yankees or Mets game.

Hey, maybe that's what I can do during my next 10 years.

Anyway, yeah. I've been a New Yorker for 10 years as of today.

And, seriously, Adam. Happy birthday.

Officially a New Yorker,

James "Native Curmudgeon" Comtois

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