June 7th, 2018––
Andy Spector and I sit across from each other at the Hudson River Coffeehouse, a cozy shop on the corner of Hudson and Quail in Albany. We’ve spent our mornings and afternoons here to recharge and refresh with a cup of coffee, or for me, a freshly brewed iced tea (my favorite was the Strawberry Rumba). The first full day together we spent about two hours at Hudson River, then walked to Washington Square Park and explored Lark street in Albany. What I came to notice, was that Albany is very old and “hipster-esque.” There’s an aesthetic about the city that felt liberating. Everyone was young, too. So many young people here, and compared to Rochester, it is way more urban.
Andy hadn’t warned me that there wasn’t anything to do or that I would be bored after the first day, which he wasn’t wrong about, but the highlight was exploring downtown Albany and visiting the New York State Museum. I described myself as a “closeted history nerd”, and that museums were something I wanted to check out while I was here. The restaurants in Albany were locally owned and operated, much different than the larger companies around Long Island. The food was good; I had a small but filling breakfast at Madison Cafe down the street from Andy’s apartment. Last night, we went to a place called the Madison Pourhouse for a beer, and boy do they have beer. I know nothing about beer; I’m a Wine Mom at heart, but I am always down to try new things. I chose a lemon wheat ale, a light beer with a citrus kick. We had arrived an hour before the Pourhouse closed, so we were only able to have one drink, but we headed down the street to Junior’s for another, and of course some wings and mozzarella sticks.
I think the most memorable experience in Albany was going to Stewart's for the first time. Andy was really excited to take me there, later mentioning that Stewart's is a "generic gas station convenience store that happens to have really good ice cream and coffee." I assumed it was an old fashioned ice cream place, but I wasn't disappointed. (I recommend the Fireworks flavor if you get the chance to go).
In honor of Pride Month, I was really pleased to see many businesses, homes, and even churches sporting the Pride flag around Albany. What really excited me was seeing the Transgender Pride flag and Bisexual Pride flag adorned on a building in the Capital Plaza. So often, we forget about these groups in the LGBT+ community, and it really warmed my heart to see them represented in this city.
Will I be back to Albany? I hope so. I really did enjoy myself, and Andy was an excellent host, making sure I had what I needed every night before I went to bed. His apartment was small, but homey and clean. As I sit in Hudson River with Andy, enjoying their coffee for the first and last time (for a while), I am ready to go home and prepare for my next upcoming trip. Stay tuned for more “Greetings From…” this summer. I’m so excited to see what’s in store.
Hellooooo Readers! It’s me, coming to you live from Albany, New York! Well, on a train to Albany, New York. What brings me to Albany? A few things, actually. I’m planning on visiting a few friends while up here, as well as exploring the capital of the great state I was born in. In a recent post, you all saw that my next project coming up was called Lunar. It takes place in a small town outside of Rochester, New York. Unfortunately, I am not able to venture there this summer. I don't doubt that there are small towns near Albany. I know that it's the capital and that there are probably a few buildings, but I expect the surrounding area to be a bit suburban or rural.
My experiences in Rochester, however, have been nothing but educational and exciting. All I did was eat and go shopping. I did get to see Lake Ontario in its glory, which is one of the most invaluable moments on that trip. Rochester is home of the Garbage Plate, which is a platter of food that you would find at a barbeque. Cheeseburgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni salad, french fries...and not to mention “spicy meat sauce”. You can't go to Rochester without having a Garbage Plate. One restaurant I couldn’t stop talking about was called Mad Hatter, a small luncheonette and bakery, with phenomenal food. A trip to Mad Hatter would not be complete without having a cup of tea to celebrate your "unbirthday". I beg Dennis to bring me back an ounce of tea when we come back from break. It's incredible. There's so much I haven't seen there yet, but I promise I will be back.
So why did I set Lunar in Rochester? As you will find out in the play, the protagonist Selini lives on an apple orchard with her mother. The orchard has been in the family for generations, in order to keep up appearances around town. Selini’s mother Zoe, assures Selini that her future is set for her on the orchard. Dennis, my partner, grew up in a town called Williamson, which is where the Mott’s applesauce factory is located, and they have tons of apple orchards there. He told me that he wanted to get out because the town was so small and there’s virtually nothing there for him. This sounds like something out of a movie, but I promise he isn’t the only one wanting to escape the small town woes of upstate New York. Selini wants to go to college in Manhattan, what she wants to study is yet to be determined. Selini doesn’t know she’s a werewolf, which is why Zoe wants to keep her in Rochester. Besides the elements of feminism in Lunar, it is overall a love letter to Rochester, New York.
I am very excited to arrive in Albany. It is a place I've always heard about but never been to. I didn't research or ask questions about what it's like, hence my assumptions from the first paragraph, but I'm eager to see what it has in store. The sights from the window of my train consist of the murky waters of the Hudson River and lots of trees. I'm comfortable, although the coffee I had bought earlier has gone cold and I'm not sure where the trash is located. The first time I ever took AmTrak was when I went to Rochester last summer. I had a wonderful trip going up (lots of trees!), but coming home was...well, something I hope never to experience again. I'm convinced that Penn Station at 3am is another dimension. Albany is about a two and a half hour commute from Manhattan, while Rochester is a 7 hour trip if you’re lucky. One of my lifelong dreams (if you could call it that, I’m only 21) is to discover all of New York state. I love it so much, and I feel like traveling around New York is underrated. There's so much to explore.
Part of my writing process for this play is to learn about this Small Town State of Mind, from real people I know who grew up in such a place. I did not grow up in a small town, although I had that mentality for a while. When I went to college, I met so many people from upstate New York (and learned a thing or two about what is considered "upstate"). It got me thinking about what life is like up there, and why people from big cities romanticize this idea of a small town life. What makes it so appealing? What do the people who live there, both young and old, think about it? What makes them want to escape and why do they romanticize a big city life?
I’m expected to arrive in Albany at 11:45. Hopefully. This will be continued after I’ve experienced Albany. Until then, stay tuned for more updates about my future travels!