TheaterMania U

First Times, Last Times, and Savoring the Moment

TheaterMania intern Emma Cohen reflects upon her summer in New York City.

My cousins (from bottom right to top right): Zach, Sarah, Rachel, Rose and me

I’m one of those people who mark certain events as ‘first times’ or ‘last times.’ When my family and I went to Israel last summer, I made remarks such as “this is the first time I’m flying over the Atlantic!” When my best friend left for college, I cried relentlessly, saying “this is the first time we’re going to be apart for more than three weeks since I’ve known you!” When my brother graduated from middle school this past June, I said, somewhat in awe, “this is last time we’ll be at a Burley Middle School graduation ceremony!”

And Thursday was definitely a day of ‘last times.’ Last time that I would wake up to the sound of traffic from my bedroom window. Last time that I would work at the TheaterMania office. Last time that I would pause, just before entering the subway stop, to stare at the Empire State Building in the distance before going underground to catch the B train from 42nd Street.

I can’t believe how quickly the summer went by. What I thought would be an eternity simply seemed like a couple of days away from home. Oddly enough, now that I’m back in Charlottesville, sitting on my bed with my still-packed suitcases sprawled out across the floor, I feel like I never left. But then I think back on all the memories from the summer and realize how much I’ve changed.

For one thing, I learned how to navigate around a city that once was almost entirely foreign to me. Instead of sounding like complete gibberish, “meet me at 32nd between Park and Lexington” is now actually a doable direction. Thanks to some common sense, help from some nice strangers, and trusty Google Maps, I’ve become comfortable and confident in finding my way around. Taking the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station, booking a hair cut appointment at a salon near Central Park, going out in the meat packing district with some NYU friends–I truly feel like I can call myself a ‘New Yorker’ after the time I’ve spent here this summer.

I also feel like I have a better sense of who I am and how I relate to other people. Last Monday, my grandmother and I went out to lunch with an old friend of hers, Arlene. Eight weeks ago, I would have been completely awkward eating with a Manhattan socialite such as her. But spending time in the city made me much more bold and outgoing. I was easily able to talk to her about college and my internship in the city without feeling the least bit insecure. Something about New York City made me grow up, in a sense, because I was so independent for the first time. I became comfortable enough around my family, friends, and co-workers to really talk to them as Emma Cohen the adult, not Emma Cohen the teenager.

And finally, I learned how to savor the moment. I think theater helped me with that. I saw Chicago on my last weekend in the city, and the whole time I was completely enthralled by the performance. I wasn’t thinking about this being my ‘first time’ seeing my favorite musical or ‘last time’ I’d be in Manhattan for the weekend this summer. It was being able to enjoy the songs, dancing, and acting that mattered to me, not anything in the wider context. So I could spend the day at Coney Island, take a trip out to my grandparent’s summer home at Lake Waubeeka, watch a Brooklyn Cyclones game with my cousins, and see The Dark Knight Rises and just be really, really happy. Not because it was another experience to add to a list, but because it was something that I simply loved doing. They are memories that I will always cherish.

I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity to write for TheaterMania University. I hope that my blogs have been entertaining and heartfelt. I also hope that, to whoever is reading this, you continue to dedicate time to theater and music alike. It’s something that never has to be a ‘first’ or ‘last’–it’s here forever. Happy end of summer, and wahoowa!