Sometimes I can’t decide whether or not I believe in coincidences.
Yesterday was the most special treat. About three days ago I got an email from a dear friend of mine, Desiree Burch. Des is a stand up/story teller/solo performer. We met back in 2011 at the Edinburgh Fringe at an opening festival party at the Counting House. She was a fellow New Yorker who had done the fringe a few times already. We hit it off immediately. It was like I had known her forever. We laughed and smoked cigarettes in that tiny bar until God knows how late. Over the course of the festival we became fast theatre friends (my favorite type). Our bond was unique. We both had theatre backgrounds. She had been a theatre major at Yale, I had an MFA from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Yet we both occupied this strange middle ground between stand up and story telling and theatre. In an industry that wants to put everyone into a box, we were refusing to be categorized. I had met a kindred spirit. Someone who got me. Or at least got what I was trying to do.
Des eventually moved to London where she’s basically famous now. I knew from the sosh meeds (social media) that she was in the states doing her new show, but I didn’t even consider the chance that I might get to see her because going to New York was not on my agenda.
Then I got the email. Turns out her brother and his wife live in Charlotte. Her sister-in-law was telling her how much she loves Greenville, this cute little town an hour and a half down the road. Des was like- wait- David Lee Nelson lives in Greenville! So yesterday I had the pleasure, the absolute pleasure, of spending the afternoon with Des and her sister in law. We ate at Tako Sushi. Had tea at M. Judson Books. Did the walk across the Liberty Bridge.
That meeting had capped a full week and a half of seeing some of my favorite people. Mixed in with the scans and the treatment and the Christmas and the Hanukkah and a trip to the Chiropractor, I got to have tea at Coffee Underground with my friend and first girlfriend Amy. I got to have food court Gyros with my grad school classmate/artistic soulmate Tom. I spent two laughter filled days with my soon to be in laws. I had coffee with Jaimie’s oldest high school friend Chase. I had a Southwest Panera Salad with the one and only Liz Coralli. Brunched at Nose Dive everyone’s favorite human Adam Knight. Met the lovely and talented Mary Jane. And then to top it all off, Tako Freaking Sushi with Desiree Burch!
Not to mention the time earlier in the month I spent rehearsing Every Brilliant Thing with the brilliant and effervescent Rick Dildine. The pre and post show chats with Jay Briggs and Mike Siblone. The super late night at the bar with Jaimie and Amanda Sox that had me hung over for three days even though I haven’t had a drink in 11 years. The greenroom tea and chocolate with stage manager Jamie. The breakfast with my dear friend and funniest person alive Brennen. Political conversations over 26 dollar a shot bourbon with Rob and his Santa Hat. A visit with Lenn and Debbie. Chicken and Waffles with Val and Michael and Patrick. Fancy coffee in Traveler’s Rest with Mike. An oddly expensive Wendy’s lunch with my parents. Not to mention text threads with Dylan and John and Joy and Lauren and Anneclaire and Rachel. The snarky Williams and Sonoma comments with Anne T.
And to experience all of this with Jaimie. My spark plug of a co-pilot. My beautiful, precocious, 7 on the Enneagram scale, gin loving, back scratch demanding, smart and charming and soon to be wife.
So I don’t know if I believe in coincidences, but I do believe in symmetry. And I know that it’s really more like year 3.5 billion and that 2020 is a completely arbitrary number, but it’s what we’re working with. I think it means something that the end of my year, the end of my decade, has been filled to the brim with people I know and love.
Theatre might not earn you a ton of money. But it does shower you in riches. Because it showers you in people. And “people are all we’ve got.”
So thank you, friends and readers, for being my people.
Happy New Year.