I have not been so fortunate. Age is against me for one thing, and a second highly invasive abdominal surgery last year put paid to ever having a solid core again. But as I have urged the dancer to do, get back in there to see what I can salvage. I've made myself stop dwelling on the things I can't do anymore. So far, I haven't been able to do as much as I would have liked, but it hasn't been as terrible as I feared it would be.
Three weeks back, I had another setback in the form of the sort of cold I haven't had for quite a while. Not one of those take it easy and you'll be over it in a week colds. This is the kind that spends a week casing the joint before slipping in the bathroom window and establishing squatter's rights. You can feel it lurking, sneaking around and making inroads. During the second week it knocks down walls and hosts a rattling, never ending rave circulating from attic to cellar. Only during the third week, if you've found the right combination of medications, do the condemned property notices go up and more stuff than you ever thought possible begins, finally, to vacate the premises.
Fortunately I know of a little studio in an unlikely place, a rather well kept secret in the city. There really is no such thing as a beginner ballet class in NYC, unless you're an eight-year-old. But there are a few studios that offer something for adults that comes close if you have the fortitude to hang in there. Life over the past two years has taken up most of my fortitude, but after going back to class with the dancer and surviving better than I thought I would, I went back to my little studio.
It is like coming home, going back there. (And I'm keeping the secret. Y'all can go slog through a workshop at Steps or BDC.) It also has a fee schedule which, when I am honest with myself, really does suit my needs. I have an annoying tendency to use lack of funds as an excuse for staying home. Over the past winter, I realized I could no longer afford to not go back to class. So I take the money for it out as soon as my paycheck hits, pay the rest of my bills, and make do with whatever is left.
There is one other thing that will come out when the paycheck hits, and for which I will live on bread and water for short stints if need be. No, it is not a shoe sale. When there are ballets I want to see, I will risk the cheap seats. I've since begun to expand this certain plays, when I get wind of them in time. There are certain theaters in NYC which will advertise tickets starting at thirty dollars. I've so far only found one such theater in which this is actually true, and that's the Harvey at Brooklyn Academy of Music. It does come with the caveat that, to reach those seats, you must be able climb seventy steps. Last year I climbed to the top of the Philadelphia Academy of Music. I didn't count the steps, but I'm pretty sure it was all that or more. I've also had to climb out of the Washington Heights A train station when both of the escalators went out, and that is close on to a hundred steps.
The cheap seats do come with a price, whether it's the climb, decreasing leg room as you go up, or obstructed views. I took a chance on a cheap seat at the Joyce Theater, a venue to which I had not been before. This was not for lack of desire. I have a friend with the Trocks whom I've yet to see dance because they only play the Joyce every other year. Now that I've been to that theater, I'm sure the affordable seats don't sell out so fast because of popularity, but because of scarcity.
It is not a large theater, and the prices charged for the prime seats are quite high. That being so, the cheap seats go fast and you have to know which ones to pick. I opted for outside center rather than inside left or right, and it made all the difference. While I might be willing to take a side box at the Met for ABT, I would not take a side seat at either the Joyce or Philly Academy of Music. In either case, the disappointment in the view would far outweigh the savings on the ticket price.
Everyday life in this city demands sacrificial budget making. When you add in wanting to make the most of what the city has to offer, you have to get somewhat radical about it. I will wear jeans and sneakers to the Met if it means being able to afford the ticket, and you can go turn your nose up until you drown in the spray from the fountain. This year I wanted to finally make it to the International Auto Show, but I got wind of a play I decided is a must see for me, so that the Auto Show is once again going by the wayside for a chance at live theater.
The stars have to align just so - the program, the ticket price, the availability of time and money, and did I find out about the event in time to get a cheap seat. In the few years I have been living in Manhattan, I have learned that when the cosmic convergence does occur, it is best to make the sacrifice and take the leap. The regrets are far fewer, and the memories far happier.