As a requirement to being a member of the Actors’ Equity Association you are responsible for two yearly dues. My May payment, however, was bit more than the basic $60. I finally paid in full my initial fee, totalling a hefty $1,100. That’s a nice chunk of change. Even so, I couldn’t be prouder to confidently flash that card at auditions. I considered it badge of achievement, a personal summit reached. If I wasn’t feeling entirely part of the club before, I was now a certified Kool-Aid drinker.
Business with our company, The 3tO5, was running smoothly. We turned Cinco de Mayo into Work-o de Mayo and in between bites of guacamole and swigs of Corona we had ourselves a working happy hour. We were churning full speed ahead with the web series Love* (Asterisk), scheduled to shoot in the summer. Meanwhile the play Detours was still being tweaked into a second draft by yours truly in order to meet a June 1st festival competition deadline. Besides writing and producing, I was kept busy with a photo shoot for the Psychosis film poster and auditions. Another summer, another general audition for Repertorio Español. Just like The Actors Studio auditions, it looked like perseverance would be key.
On a cool Friday evening, four women got together in a Harlem apartment for some fun and games. Since Aileen had never seen Showgirls, Nina and I felt it was our nipple-tasseled duty to expose her to the campy perfection of Nomi Malone in all her violent-dancing, pelvis-thrusting, “Ver-sayce”-wearing glory. We had ourselves a classy/trashy night complete with pizza, beer, and ice cream. We played the drinking game for every time Gina Gershon drawled out a darlin’ or every time Elizabeth Berkley went off in an unprovoked fit of rage. Sometimes a girl needs to let out her inner ratchet.
That Saturday we celebrated Dougie’s birthday at The Spot Karaoke bar. Any time I get a chance to show off my Stevie Nick’s Dreams rendition is a good night. Time flies when you’re having fun. Before I even knew what hit me it was already Memorial Day Weekend also known as Fleet Week but better known to Manhattan women everywhere as the single best holiday in the calendar. It’s that time of year when we trade the boots and leggings for a skirt and a smile and we shamelessly flirt with the fine men who protect our homeland. Okay, I exaggerated. About the flirting part, I mean. The closest I come to that is shyly asking for an Instagram picture, hoping against hope my friends don’t embarrass me by telling the hunk in uniform how Oh, so thankful I am for all he does for our country. Note to self: one day, not too far away, be the bold woman who sidles up to a Navy Seal to ask his zodiac sign. I ended the long weekend with a picnic in Roosevelt Island and a tiny princess named Zooey. Nothing is more beautiful than the glimmering New York skyline as backdrop or a little girl running through an open field chasing after a rainbow-colored kite. On second thought, new note to self: one day, not too far away, be the bold woman who chases after her kaleidoscope dreams instead of a man’s astrological sign.
At the end of May I took a trip to Miami to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day and a slew of family milestones. My cousin Luisita, a wee thing whose birth I witnessed only yesterday, was graduating high school. I sat on the bleachers at FIU (my alma mater) watching her accept her diploma and I couldn’t help feeling old. Memories from my own high school graduation, also conducted in this same gymnasium, suddenly came rushing back. How did ten years rush past me so quickly? Is that all life was? A second, a breath, and then gone? Our ten year reunion was that same weekend but my girlfriends and I opted out. Instead we met at Applebee’s— our trusty hang out spot, witness to many a life & love conversations over shared plates of appetizers and Coca Cola refills. Basketball jerseys hung on the walls and a big mural depicted our Spartans in full football action. The Miami Heat was in the play-offs and the place was packed. I was definitely home. We scrounged together three empty chairs and reminisced about our times together at good ol' Southridge High: the pep rallies, prom, old boyfriends, graduation, Grad Night at Disney, lunches by the stadium lawn. I hadn’t seen these girls in almost a decade. Life had taken us on different paths, different careers, even different cities. We had traded the Cokes for margaritas and high school crushes for live-in boyfriends yet the ease with which we fell back into each other was as if we’d never parted. We couldn’t believe we’d let so much time pass by without communication. We promised to keep in touch before another reunion sneaked up on us and plans were made to have them visit me in New York.
Late Friday afternoon the family donned their semi-formal wedding attire to witness Tia Olga and Tio Eduardo tie their hands and lives in matrimony. The rain may not have been welcomed at the backyard wedding, especially by the guests with fresh blowouts, but it was an omen of lifetime happiness for the couple. It filled me with such optimism to see my glowing auntie finally find her happy ending at a later chapter in her life. Most important note to self: life doesn’t peak nor does it end after high school. It was just getting started.
The trip lasted only a short while. My itinerary was booked with prior engagements and errands so my down time was limited. I spent an entire day at a Cuban embassy office working through stressful paperwork for my sisters’ reclamation. Luckily, I had an angel named Crichy guide me through it all. On my last day there we ate brunch at Cracker Barrel (they really must put crack in those pancakes!) and had a pool party with the entire family. I danced like an idiot with my mom, played chicken fight with my sister, and had a beer with my brother-in-law. It occurred to me then that these would become the moments I’d remember ten years from now. I needed to make good ones.