Sometimes it is bitter cold walking up Eighth Avenue on Thursdays in a hat that comes down over my ears. Sometimes it is autumn and I am wearing an orange Australian hat at what I feel to be an angle as rakish as my mood. Sometimes it is spring. Whenever, I stop in the narrow vestibule at 939, rarely have to press the buzzer for Shetland Studios because singers and dancers and actors are coming and going at such a rate that the door rarely clicks into its locked position. And then I am in a cramped little elevator with singers and musicians and dancers and actors. We all burst forth on the fourth floor like 20 clowns coming out a tiny circus car. And others are there, milling about the hallways outside the studio rooms, some sitting on the floor working on lines or lyrics as they ready themselves for auditions that are always about to begin.
And I shall see Amy and we shall have a room with a piano for my voice lesson - a new passion after so many years of never singing. I am enveloped in déja vu that is sweet nostalgia, for this is so much like the Art Students League, where 20 years ago I was drawing and painting and sculpting from earlier in the morning than I had ever in my life started anything on regular basis, early morning till late at night drawing and painting and working in clay after many, many years of never doing any, many years not even remembering that I had even drawn in childhood - as unlikely that I would ever plunge into visual art as that I would ever sing.
Without art my writing and my life would have been sadly dry forever. And now singing too is need if I am to save my writing from irrelevance.
After the singing lesson last week we walked up to a Kinko¹s on 59th Street to copy the latest versions of our Song and Story scripts. And then I started to walk east to get the subway down to the Starbuck¹s at Park and 29th where I would read and/or write until time for our writing workshop nearby at TRS.
But I was turning around involuntarily, it seemed going back down Eighth to 57th Street and then the half block over to he League¹s old French Renaissance Building. I¹d read and write in the League's old cafeteria, which is tucked away on the third floor near the main print-making room.
When I came into the League building I saw the precise counterparts of who had been there in 1987 - some of them deeply dedicated artists, others who dabbled and hung around. I passed the closet-like art supply store and the area for milling about before the daily open drawing session, where a model goes on at precisely 5 every day of the week as her counterparts have done precisely at 5 for a hundred years.
Inside the cafeteria, the exact counterpart of the pretty girl artists who worked there in 1987 gave me a wilted egg salad sandwich which could have been one I ate before the 5 o¹clock session 20 years ago.
Five o¹clock! I look at my watch. It is 5 to 5. I rush down to the office and buy what is still a $6 ticket. I run into the small art supply store - get a pad - a 6B pencil - add a 3B, a 3H and an HB - and a conté crayon - and a medium charcoal pencil, and a soft charcoal pencil.
And I am there in a center seat, which is miraculously still free, precisely at 5 to see the model of this day in this year lift her arms high and go up on her toes in a one-minute pose that is an ode to spring.