There is something I have omitted so far, when it comes to my series of posts on seeing LLL in New York. I have talked about (some of) the fan fun, but really, there are some thanks due, too. Even though I have got nothing to do with Thanksgiving, as a European, yesterday’s tweets and posts reminded me of that. For those of us who travelled long distances from all corners of the Earth to see a play with our favourite
actor man in it, a huge part of the experience was being welcomed – and entertained – by our American sisters-in-RA. This was actually a theme that I observed in many tweets that were posted before and since I have been to NYC myself.
NYC is an amazing place to visit, at the best of times. The sights, the cultural programme on offer, the American dream alone, makes for an exciting and eventful stay. But even in a bustling city you could feel lost and alone if you cannot share what you are experiencing.
And let’s face it – an Armitage live performance plus SD is *always* a highly emotional experience that is hard to digest just on your own. Someone has to provide after-care in the wake of bursting ovaries… Now, personally, I was lucky to have Linda60 as my travel companion, which was a great relief when I initially arrived. Having made it to NYC a day before me, Linda60 had already sussed out the lay of the land in the vicinity of our frankly rather basic hotel – free wi-fi availability, nearest Pret-a-Manger, and most importantly – quickest route to Laura Pels Theater.
For someone who travelled more than 5000 kilometers to get to NYC, I felt reassured by the fact that I was not going to be alone in New York, but meeting people I *knew* – even though I had never met them before. The fandom – a safety net for those of us who travelled long-distance. And more than that because not only were we welcomed, but also hosted. Not necessarily in terms of providing accommodation, but for meetings and dinners and tours. So, in advance of my Wednesday-to-Wednesday stay in NYC, I had received a couple of kind invitations to meet with New Yorkers. Those “dates” provided a framework and a rough schedule, apart from the performances of LLL I had booked. Something to hold on to and look forward to, while there.
The first such meeting took place on Friday, lunchtime, with Armitagebesotted. We met in Bryant Park, one of those little parks in the middle of Manhattan, that I found pretty ingenious: The few open outdoor spaces that are there in New York, are public parks, equipped with tables and chairs, where you can bring your own food and eat your lunch. Which is exactly what we did – among much excited chatter about being in New York and seeing Richard perform on stage. But Armitagebesotted had a massive surprise up her sleeve for me. She wanted to take me on a tour of the New York Public Library which is right there at the Eastern end of Bryant Park. Destiny destination #1 – the NYPL happened to be one of the sights I had on my tentative sightseeing list for NYC. Armitagebesotted guided me (and Linda60) through this impressive building, showed us the beautiful reading rooms and even did a quick research on my (in-law) artist ancestor in the reference room. Thank you very much for that, J!
The next day I had reserved for some quality time with the fandom’s resident antiquity expert, Obscura. Sure, we had spent time together on our little AHA tour of Greece, but with the group shenanigans taking precedence over individual pairings in Greece, now was the opportunity for one-on-one time. Not a New Yorker herself, Obscura kindly allowed me to tag along on her mission of the day – she wanted to visit The Cloisters, a branch of the Met Museum, which consists of a set of several, original medieval cloisters which were shipped from Europe and reassembled in a custom-built museum high above the Hudson River on the edge of Manhattan. Destiny destination #2 – another one from my list of “Things to do in NYC”. We had a brilliant day with culture, history, and lots of chatting about fandom, life and Armitage – and some craft material shopping for our make-shift medal for Mr A.
The same afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting Donna – fellow fan, generous supporter of various charity auctions, and fellow traveller on Obscura’s official Greek tour earlier this year. We had missed meeting each other in Athens, but it was fabulous to meet her and her lovely daughter Michelle aka “The Enabler” in NYC, and we had much fun in the theatre and at the SD together.
You are seeing a rare glimpse of me here with Donna (subject to deletion) after the Sunday matinée, but heck, evidence of our existence has already been captured in various SD videos. (Aside: I even showed Mimi’s video of the SD to Mr Guylty, as an example of what goes down when fans meet RA. He watched silently and only remarked “oh, that’s you”. Ominous.) I have applied a little more discretion to the identity of another lovely New York fan, whom Donna and I are flanking in the picture above. She deserves a special mention because her kindness blew me away:
That day, when I came to take (my favourite) seat in the theatre,
C 9 FYI, due to extraordinarily good view of Armitagean fuzzy forearms in Act 2, a friendly woman was already sitting in the adjacent seat. While I was my usual over-excited, giddy self in advance of the performance, legging it over to the other side of the auditorium to have a pre-show chat with Donna, she waited patiently to introduce herself to me. It turned out that she is DaphneHS who has been delighting us with many a report on the SD over on Twitter for the last couple of months. She has also been a generous supporter of my charity auctions, and she topped it off by handing over two *signed* Playbills of LLL for me and/or future auctions! I was stunned! And not only that – when I later expressed my worries to her that I had been tasked with bringing back a couple of LLL posters from NYC but worried they would get damaged in my suitcase, she immediately offered to put them into a poster roll and send them to me, free of charge! How nice was that?! Those were unexpected kindnesses that I am still speechless about. Thank you so much, Daphne!
On Monday, Perry was in town and had suggested a meeting. Linda60 and I met her in a café around the corner from our hotel where she gifted me the section of the New York Times with the review of LLL (which contains much flattering praise for Mr A!) – and a very naughty mint tin *nuff said*. Perry wanted to show us around her old neighbourhood, which led us past the Dakota Building only to arrive at destiny destination #3: Central Park. The park was lovely in its autumn colours, and we had a brief wander around, from Strawberry Fields towards Bethesda Fountain. A great way to spend an afternoon in New York! Thank you for guiding and entertaining us!
Finally, my last fan meeting almost didn’t happen because I had neglected using Twitter as a tool for hooking up with people. When I eventually remembered to tweet, New Yorker Pat got in touch, incredulous that I was in her town. That was Tuesday morning, my last day before leaving on the next. We managed to squeeze a meeting in, and Pat invited me for dinner on my own turf, so to speak – we convened in the German pub around the corner from my hotel *lol*. Time passes, when you are having fun, and the hour we had together was far too short – I had to leg it to the theatre quite fast, in order to make it on time for my last show… But it was lovely to meet Pat in person, and I was grateful that she reached out to me…
During the course of the seven days in NYC, I also had the pleasure of spending time to chat with Zan and Judiang, Chazak, Jazzbaby, in the designated post-show meeting point, the Irish pub across the street.
It gives me much amusement that I ended up in Irish and German pubs respectively and exclusive during my stint in New York… As if I was missing home. It was coincidence, I assure you. I also reconnected with Kathy who made her way from the West Coast and wove her inimitable SD spell over us and Mr A. Mimi flew in from Utah, laden with gifts for my currently pitifully dormant shrining enterprise, instigating lots of antics and spreading her trademark cheer. And not to forget the new and nameless contacts with fans from all over the world whom the play, the SD – and most of all the shared admiration of affection for Mr A brought together and with whom I chatted in the theatre and at the SD. It was simply great putting a *real*, unedited and undisguised face and person (!) to your social media handles.
To loop back to the beginning, I would like to thank everyone whom I met in New York. Besotted, Perry, Daphne and Pat made me feel so welcome in their city. As did so many other American fan friends whom I met at the play, welcoming me to your country. You are a credit to NYC, the US, doing your absolute best to entertain us and not feel like strangers in a strange land. Knowing that you were there, made the whole experience of going to and being in NYC so much better for me. Not only did you spoil me with your time and attention, but also gifts and tours. It was reassuring to know you were there, and I know that you have extended this courtesy and hospitality to many other fans, too. That is the spirit of love love love. Thank you! ❤️