Nostalgia Tour: The Beginning

We decided to rent a car. From a bad experience with one at World Wide Plaza, we went with Avis in downtown Brooklyn. Wound up with a gray Dodge Avenger. They were really rude at that location. It was better than driving through Manhattan. Driving in Brooklyn is like driving most anyplace. Most of it is one-way and you can’t turn on red. Other than that vroom, vroom, vroom.

That is until you try to leave the damn place. We lost an hour trying to get to the bridge to get to Staten Island. That we couldn’t get to the armpit of the 5 boroughs should have been a sign. Actually, the fact that Avis couldn’t get the car I ordered up from the basement should have sent my Spider Sense into high gear. 30 minutes lost there plus the hour = 90minutes late.

Jersey Turnpike was fine. Delaware slipped by. Maryland was ok.

Then came 495. The outer beltway around DC. An 18-wheeler jackknifed and flipped so it took up 2 lanes of I66 West. It took 2 hours to go 20 miles. I guess I’d rather have that than to drive in fear of dangerous drivers. I drive like a grandmother now or more like I did right after I got my license. I like driving for the freedom but I hate a lot of things about driving. It’s really unnatural. It’s like smoking. The harm outweighs the good. If cigarettes and cars gave off vitamins b and d then we’d be having a different discussion. That means 3/5 hours behind. Then it was slow on 66W so we wound up there at 7pm instead of 3pm.

That’s how a 6 hour drive turns into 10. Nightmare. I understand 81 is a better way to go FYI.

Fortunately, Carolyn and I were able to meet up with one of my favorite people in the world, Richard Warner. He was my acting teacher when I was at the University of Virginia. This was the first stop on my way to my reunion. In the six years I’d been away from Charlottesville, it had changed quite a bit. A lot of restaurants turned over, a new bandshell ampitheatre at the end of the downtown mall attracting big acts erupted from the ground, and the town burped up a new stadium.

The best part was wandering around with Richard and looking at all the changes around the Drama building. There’s a new parking deck, a new art building, a tree missing, and plans for another theatre and a reflecting pool. He will probably retire before all of this is realized.

There are some people who make you feel better being around. Like you can reach greater potential or more of you can come into existence. Richard has that gift with people. Many an actor and artist has been value-added by their time with him. What a great, kind, supportive, intelligent, open, generous, and funny man.

UVa takes only a handful of actors into their program once every three years. This cycle or next cycle will probably be his last. How does the time go so fast? I pray to Thespis I might be able to go back to spend more time working with him in some guest artist capacity. If not, I still am happy for those who do get time with him.

He gave me a sense of dignity with my work and helped me on the road to maturity as an actor, teacher, and person. We put in some great time working on my Trigorin from The Seagull and had long dialogues as we slowly strolled around the grounds of the University of Virginia or slipped to the corner for a cup of coffee away from others who might intrude on our time. It was through those conversations that I found my way to being an artist, a word I’d never used to describe myself before then.

We had a great collaboration on Six Characters in Search of an Author where we extended the work from class into a full production. I had ideas that met and mixed with his ideas that went through a lot of facets of the show. It was really amazing. One of those rare experiences you take to your grave. It became this great ghost story/trial/psychodrama/bad love story/tale of woe.

Carolyn and I wandered the town that night after seeing Richard off in his Prius from the parking deck where students are already drag racing all the way to the top. The vibe is so different from New York. I felt so exposed and kind of nervous walking around. It’s a nice place that’s been well-kept. The lawn of Mr. Jefferson’s Knowledge Box looked pristine as always. It was good to see grass and trees but C’ville will always be one person to me.

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