Any Place You Hang Your Hat
Look out of our living room window of a night, and you can make out the fairy lit Christmas trees in the windows of the apartment blocks across the way. If you want to feel really dizzy you can trawl through the thousands of festive events rattling the city every weekend leading up to the Big Day. As preparation for the holidays gears up in earnest we are still luxuriating in globally warmed sunny temperatures, luring this foreigner into a false sense of security, deciding the winter here isn’t about five foot snow falls after all (I can be a snow bunny for a maximum of two and a half days before the novelty wears off and I become a grizzly bear). And so, as husband fast approaches the end of his contract downtown, we ought to be delving into our five hundred suitcases, stuffing our wares in, wondering why it’s always harder to get the same amount of clothes back into the space they unravelled from in the first place. Only we’re not.
The city has us hooked. We’ve only just started to adjust (New York whizzes along in its own time zone). Wouldn’t it be a shame to leave now, just when this immigrant is getting to know her way around? When the logistics of riding public transportation with two small people doesn’t terrify her anymore? Wouldn’t it be sad to sail away not having visited all the nooks and crannies around town on my never ending list of to-sees?
For a month we’ve weighed up the unknown, un-chartered versus returning to London where we sprinted from as dizzy parents to a 5 year old and a newborn. We’ve voiced concerns about health care, rent, jobs, school, being far from friends and family, but, in the end, we’re suckers for a bit of a gamble. Couldn’t go back without at least giving this city our best shot. It may all go belly up; in the city of a trillion actors we may get washed ashore. Or maybe, just maybe, we’re where we ought to be. There’s no better test for our family than to learn how to juggle our dreams and needs whilst maintaining equilibrium.
On the crest of that wave, I head to interviews with agents (husband is putting me to work instead of wafting around town just dreaming about it). Firstly, I introduce myself to voice agents. In a midtown studio, I fix fat headphones on my ears, and, before I read for them, glance out of the window at the pre theatre traffic of Ninth Avenue feeling like an excitable six year old. Their feedback is positive. Enterprise here, in the actor as in any profession, is something that is valued and expected. At home, we’re pre disposed to hold ambition and the confidence to say what your talents are as somewhat uncouth.
When I return home from my first interview with an acting agent, husband asks me if I’d asked whether he liked my show reel? Resume? Photo? I reply with a feeble no, feeling too British. I’m more comfortable having whimsical chitchat about life than asking someone if they think I’d be an asset to their business? Better start learning to speak American fluently.
I type towards uncertainty and it’s pretty exhilarating. Meanwhile, husband coos Junior to sleep and Boy charges around his schoolyard. The mountain of luggage? It will stay empty for the time being. And that feels very good indeed.
Sara Alexander and her husband Cory English (formerly of Walworth NY) are actors, who met in the London acting community. They live in London, with their two children, but are currently living in New York.