Silvia   October 4, 2020   blog, friends, travel

Did it really take me a year to write this post? Yes, so let’s get to it.

Navigating Penn Station on any day is a struggle per se. Navigating it while running on fumes and carrying three heavy bags is the plot of the next Mission Impossible movie. Keep an eye out for it in 2021.

As our train took the scenic route down to Princeton, some of us decided to use the hour long journey to nap while others kept a vigilant eye on Twitter as the wonderful people at the McCarter Theatre had organised a book signing with playwright and director Emily Mann for that evening and we were trying to squirrel our way in even though we didn’t have a ticket for the evening show. As it turns out, Emily isΒ  a bloody genius and the 15 minutes before every show are devoted to talking about the play, Gloria and feminism and the event is completely open to the public. So once we got to Princeton Junction, we made our way to our hotel, quickly changed and drove back into town. We didn’t get much sightseeing in that afternoon but Princeton charmed its way into our heart within seconds of stepping onto the pavement in front of the theatre.

The staff at McCarter was so incredibly kind and welcoming and genuinely interested in our stories. They ushered us into the theatre and I was absolutely gobsmacked by how the stage was arranged. It couldn’t have been more perfect. From the warm colours all around to the giant pillows, from the oriental rugs to the seating plan. It was absolute perfection. We all sat together in the first row, all excitement and giggles, waiting for the talk to commence. I already had so much respect for Emily as a playwright but that evening intensified my appreciation for her as a human and as an artist. She speaks with such a passion and flair. I was smitten within seconds.

Once the talk was over and I had fangirled about Mary in Dances With Wolves (if there is even a minuscule chance to sneak DWW into the conversation, you all know I will) we made our way upstairs to the bar where the signing was taking place. There we were united with more of our friends whom we hadn’t seen since the last European convention Mary had attended. Twitter can only do so much to keep friendships going and it is always so lovely to meet up with fellow fangirls. Emily signed our copies of the book and was impressed by the fact that we flew all the way from Europe to see the play. As more people started to arrive, we made our way to the restaurant across the street t grab some dinner before heading back to the hotel and get some well deserved sleep.

Crossing the street wasΒ  a challenge. If you are ever in Princeton, know that that particular crossing has an automated voice, be prepared so you don’t jump out of your skin and make a fool of yourself. The restaurant across the street from McCarter is Dinky, which I found out only later on, is a Princeton staple. It has very limited menu but everything was delicious and the staff was wonderful. I had the most delicious burger and a reinvigorating G&T, because you can take the Londoner out of London but she will still get her gin fix. After saying goodbye to Christine and Celine, we went back to our hotel for much needed sleep. Sharing a room with three other girls was something I hadn’t experienced in a while. Jokes, talks about tampons and comfy pyjamas are a balm to the soul when you are running on so little sleep.

Saturday mornings are for sleeping in, I don’t make the rules. When you are jetlagged and running on pure adrenaline, sleeping in is nearly impossible. I woke up at around 4.40, craving a McDonald’s breakfast, which quite frankly as a first for me. While I waited for the girls to wake up, I did what I do best, which is research the perfect brunch spot. By the time we were all awake, I knew the menu by heart and nothing was going to come between me and my cinnamon and berries french toast.
Our first Lyft of the day was a Tesla which gave us the smoothest ride in existence. As we were about to cross the street, we bumped into more European Mary Girls, so we decided to join forces and take over the brunch joint together. In between pancakes and sips of probably the best coffee I have ever had in the States, we talked about our last meeting, we joked and laughed about questionable yet hilarious Instagram captions and our plans to go to Dortmund that December to attend German Comic Con.

As the matinee show was getting closer and closer, we decided to walk together to the theatre and we encouraged the German (and British!) contingent to check with the box office if they had any tickets left so they could see the show one more time before flying back home. As it turned out, they did have tickets so they got to join us for the show.

I’m writing this blog post a year after seeing the show and I honestly still have no words to describe how positively brilliant it was. I am biased, there is no doubt about it, but Mary was absolutely wonderful on that stage. I keep forgetting how tiny she actually is (she’s only an inch or two taller than me) but, whether she is acting or not, she exudes such a powerful, raw energy that you are simply blown away.

The script felt like it came out of one of Gloria’s books (I guess that tends to happen when Gloria is involved in the making of a play about her life). Before this trip, I had read everything I could get my hands on about Gloria Steinem. I own all her books and a subscription to Ms., I have seen every interview and speech Youtube had to offer. Nothing prepared me to witness her life on stage. It felt so real, like the pages ofΒ  My Life On The Road were coming to life in front of my own eyes.

The way Mary absolutely nailed Gloria’s voice during interviews blew me away. It’s something that I still think about it a year later. The timbre, the rhythm… she absolutely nailed it.

As we also had tickets for the evening show, we decided to use the time in-between performances to visit Princeton. We walked through the university’s campus and I fell madly in love with it. We even accidentally interrupted a bride and groom shoot.

We visited the most adorable shops, bought the most outrageous socks and scarfed down cupcakes like they were going out of fashion. Julia and I, in true September babies fashion, decided to treat ourselves to belated birthday cupcakes while wearing silly unicorn headbands. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you thought two shows in day were enough, you are mistaken. Sunday started with us getting breakfast all together again. This time we were joined by Christine, Celine and my Janeway-loving, ginger twin Lisa, whom I hadn’t seen since the big Battlestar Galactica reunion at FedCon in 2018. Needless to say, breakfast was a success and so was the final show. I will be forever grateful to the wonderful ladies working at McCarter who upgrades us to the cushion seats on stage for the last show.

We sat on the stage with all the actors and skinny assed me was too excited to complain about the fact that the pillow was just not fluffy enough for my tush. The final show was absolutely perfect… if we ignore the fact that my legs kept going numb and I couldn’t move or stretch because I was wearing the noisiest faux leather trousers to ever be created. Squeaky trousers are not for sitting on the floor during a play, specially when Mary McDonnell is two feet away being brilliant.

After the show, we had to say goodbye to Camilla who was flying back to Italy that night. This was the first of many goodbyes.

We all walked to Dinky’s for drinks as we were all still pretty hyped up from the play and the talking circle, and we were not ready to go back to the hotel just yet. We sat on the tables outside for the rest of the afternoon until it got dark. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard as I did on that day. We talked about the play and the cast, some argued about their right to receive homemade apricot jam, others experimented with Dinky’s gin drinks, creating the “GinGin” which we were promised would end up in their drinks’ menu.

When it was time to say goodbye, we all piled up in Ubers and Lyfts with our hearts and stomachs full.

 

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