Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February 14th, 2008.

Despite the popularity of February the 14th to be about hearts and flowers, this is no going to be a Valentine's post.

This post is about AMDA.

I didn't have a blog until long after I'd moved back from New York City, and I realize that I haven't talked about it much. I didn't even have a Facebook yet when I moved out there, so none of what I'm about to talk about has ever been publicly shared.


On February the 14th 2008, at the age of 18, I boarded a plane with one suitcase, one carry-on, and $317.00 dollars cash. I was leaving my hometown of Springville, UT and moving myself-all alone-to New York City to begin a brand new life and live my dream. I was one of only two applicants from the state of Utah to be accepted to The American Musical and Dramatic Academy's New York Campus that semester. I had worked three jobs since graduating from high school in May of 2007 to be able to afford the move, and the cash I had with me was all that was left of my earnings. I had empty pockets and full dreams.

I was glad that orientation began on the 14th, because it was the first Valentine's Day I was spending away from Steven, who had left on his mission 3 months earlier. I took a red eye flight out of Salt Lake City, and remember thinking that I honestly didn't know when I'd see my family again. I also assumed that I might never live in Utah again. The plan was to graduate from AMDA, get on Broadway, get insanely rich, get Steven through college, get married and then retire and go back to get a University education to become a choir teacher.

*Skipping ahead 5 years, we all know that virtually none of the above happened. I ended up dropping out of AMDA after just one semester for two big reasons, both financial and personal. I was then homeless for two months and slept on a couch at my friend's apartment. My parents offered to pay for the plane ticket to fly me home, but after living on my own in New York City I knew I never wanted to live with my parents again.  I applied for all kinds of jobs to try and stay in the city and eventually landed the most amazing gig as a live-in nanny, which could deserve a hundred posts of it's own. It was an amazing blessing in so many ways and has affected my life to this day.

Even though my time at AMDA was relatively short lived, I can't begin to tell about how it has affected my life. Every February the 14th I remember the sunrise over the skyline of New York as the red-eye flight began it's descent into JFK. I remember how I cried seeing the city out the window as Hercules, "I Can Go the Distance" played in my head. I remember pulling my duct-taped red-leather grandma luggage through the terminal and praying that I would recognize my sister-in-law's mother who was picking me up. I remember the drive into the city and how my eyes were probably bugging out of my head as I tried to see everything all at once. How, as we neared my "dorm" on 71st street I saw Regis Philbin casually walking down the sidewalk with a bouquet for Kelly. I'll never forget meeting my roommates, Michelle Zwalua and Karina Davila. I'll never forget the insane whirl-wind that was orientation; paying for books (another $159.00 gone instantly), filling out forms for a loan, getting my student ID card, meeting my orientation group, finding out that the dorms were completely co-ed and that my RA was a gay black man. Thinking over and over that I wasn't in Utah anymore and it felt amazing to be so free. I could be whoever I wanted to be. I could be myself.

I miss New York so much. I miss the amazing friends that I made. Friends that feel like family. Friends that, although I knew them so much shorter than many of my friends here, I feel so close to. There were only about 60 students in our entire semester, and all of us were split into groups. Your group was your team. You all attended the same classes. Our group was C1, and there were 18 of us. Those 18 people...I can't even begin to explain how much I love them. My heart is full when I think of them.  Only we will ever understand the weirdness that was AMDA. Only we will understand having jazz, tap, ballet and theater dance classes 5 days a week. Floor barre, Kara's insane vocal coaching "FEEL EACH OTHER'S VIBRATIONS!", doing "One" a million and one times, the sweaty smell of the floor, the lost and found shoe boxes that we all stole shoes from when we forgot ours at final demos (ok, maybe that was just me...who stole my character shoes??!? I never found them), tapings with Steven Silverstien, Regina O'Malley making us all feel terrible about ourselves-but making us better. Only C1's will remember Justin singing "After School Special" and Frankie's nerd voice. Only we will remember Ariel belting out, "That's What He Said" and Karina pointing "There".

Probably the only pictures in existence of me wearing my leotard...

I realize that this blog post won't be nearly as interesting to those of you who weren't at AMDA, but I don't care. I'm writing this for me. I'm writing this for them. I hope that no matter how many years pass, be it 15 or 50, that we will still remember. That we'll remember being so full of dreams. That we will remember that exuberant freedom of the big city. I hope that we'll still fondly think about Lisa's acting class and me and Camille doing that amazing lesbian scene. haha. I hope we'll remember how hard Casey made us work in theater dance, and that we'll work that hard at everything we do. No matter where we go or where we end up in life, I hope we'll never forget being 18, 19 and 20 and feeling invincible.

There are hundreds of memories I could write about AMDA. There are so many things I could say about how wonderful it was, and how much fun I had. I guess the best way to end this post would be to say that I'm grateful. I'm grateful that five years ago I boarded a plane headed for my own special adventure. Even though that adventure took me all kinds of different ways than I anticipated, I will always be grateful that I had such an amazing experience, and most grateful of all for the people I met that have changed me "For Good."

(Come on, it's a Broadway school! Had to end it with a song lyric!)

"C Ooooooonne!" *Salute*

I'm the head poking out and waving from the long black hair on the right side. haha. :) Love this. Love them.
My AMDA Pandas. 

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