This past summer I stumbled across a book written in the early 1900's called 'The Game of Life and How to Play it' by a woman named Florence Scovel Shinn. The book was part self help, part Christian mysticism, and part Old-Lady-Telling-You-How-It-Is. I read the book in one sitting and the last page posed a question- What is your gut telling you to do RIGHT NOW? Her advice was to do it. Whatever it was, do it.
I put the book down, closed my eyes and tried to listen to the inner callings of my soul. Immediately New York came to mind.
I was…ahem…a little broke at the time but determined to make this happen, so I booked an overnight bus ticket to NYC and posted on Facebook about needing a place to stay. Luckily a friend was in town for a Frank Ocean performance on the 4th of July and offered me the hotel room he was staying in.
In the morning on July 4th I got up early to spend the day following my impulse in Central Park to find out why I was brought there. The park was sparkling with life that day and I basked in the jazz buskers, the Afrobats, and children blowing giant bubbles in the air with a bucket of soapy water and lasso’d ropes.
After a few hours I was hungry, but not willing to spend my rationed cash at an Upper West Side restaurant. So I procured a banana and granola bar from a deli and made my way back to the park to find a nice bench to sit and enjoy my lunch.
I found the perfect bench near the entrance on 72nd St (by the Dakota where John Lennon was shot). About five feet to my right were three young men speaking in English accents. Two of them reminded me of Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe from the Harry Potter movies, but the other I could not take my eyes off of. He was young, his skin was bright and plump, he wore glasses but I could make out the bright green of his eyes with my sideways glance (stare, really. I’m a starer). His energy was warm, cheeky and sweet.
Just as quickly as I finished my banana, Goyle and Crabbe got up to leave and said ‘It was really nice to meet you’ to Mr. Green Eyes- which puzzled me because by the sound of their conversation, their familiar hugging and the fact that they all had English accents, I would have thought they all knew each other. Thankfully Mr. GE sat back down to check his phone and I had the perfect moment to ask him about what was happening over there.
“I don’t understand, you said nice to meet you to those guys but you were hugging them as if you’ve known them forever?’ I asked.
He turned to me and smiled, pausing only half a second to check out the dark red dress I was wearing before answering “Oh, I’m the unofficial tour guide of New York for my friend’s English friends, they all get send to me so I’ve spent the last two days showing them around and the last stop was Central Park”.
I told him I could relate because as a Canadian in L.A my friends would link me with their Canadian friends. Then he told me about how he just graduated from Columbia in the Theatre Directing Program. Then I tell him about my new Music Video. Then he tells me more passionately than I’ve ever seen anyone be, about how Kanye West is the David Bowie of our generation.
His phone rang and it was his friend notifying him that he was late for dinner. We hadn’t noticed that we had been sitting on that bench for almost four hours talking. He asked if I would like to go to a party with him that night. I said yes, and he left me with his number.
We ended up in the West Village on a rooftop party where we were greeted by Joe Biagini at the door. Yes. THE Joe Biagini. Apparently the party was for the Blue Jays who were in town playing the Mets. Green Eyes and I danced, talked, and at the end of the night shared a very sweet kiss.
The next morning he cancelled his plans to meet me at the MoMa- the last stop of my trip before I went on the bus back to Toronto. Walking down the street together he commented that our meeting was so fated it felt like some sort of Woody Allen film. Ah yes, I thought. ‘But what kind of Woody Allen film?’ I asked. ‘We’re barely into act one. This could be a comedy, a tragedy, a romance..who knows? If it’s a romance like we suspect, there will be a moment where we know for sure the characters are falling in love’.
Inside the MoMa he showed me the new Steve McQueen exhibit and we scoured each room for the painting that made us feel something, and compared.
We wandered down the stairs onto a bustling floor filled with tourist and weaved through the crowd for refuge in an emptier room I noticed on my right.
We walked in, and before I even saw the painting that was hanging on the wall, I felt the most curious feeling. It was like being suspended in air, like flying- but more quiet. It was like that scene in ‘The Crown’ where Prince Philip has his first flying lesson and the pilot turns of the engine to float. I slowly backed away from this bluish, purplish, greenish expanse of a painting to get a better perspective. Completely in rapture I quietly gasped when the full image was grasped by my consciousness. I burst into tears. My experience of the painting’s sublime beauty was full body. Then, with the same vulnerability as one might have after losing themselves in most spiritual orgasm ever, I looked at G.E and saw that he had witnessed my whole experience, and his eyes were watery too. He brought me into his chest and we stood there, hugging in front of Monet’s Waterlilies for a few moments longer.
It was then I knew that this was definitely a romance.
On my twelve hour bus ride home I wrote the lyrics of this new song that I called Waterlilies. Here it is!
Thanks for listening!