01 December 2015

See The Forest For The Trees

Back in 1988, I had a job at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I was living in Manhattan, with my then boyfriend/now husband, and more often than not, I commuted back and forth to Brooklyn by car, because the BAM staff could park as cheaply as subway fare and my car lived on the street and was going to have to be moved for alternate side of the street parking anyway. And then there were those late nights when, in 1988, one did not want to take the subway home alone anyway, and cabs were expensive (but cheaper if you made the driver go over the Manhattan Bridge and up First Avenue, please, which they never wanted to do because the other way was both faster and longer and therefore more lucrative).

One of the productions in 1988 NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL was a Robert Wilson/David Byrne shebang called The Forest - which was apparently based on the Epic of Gilgamesh but I can't remember a thing about it, although somewhere at home I have a hard bound program complete with a synopsis and photos and essays and (I think) a CD of some of the music. It matters not that I can't remember the show. What I remember very clearly is that the opening night performance was followed by a party on the Opera House stage.

The decor for the opening night was butt simple. It was December and Christmas trees had sprouted on every street corner in the city. Someone bought 25 big, skinny, fat, little Christmas trees, a stagehand nailed two pieces of 2x4 to the bottoms, and lo, a forest grew on the stage. We danced, we drank, we gloried in the performance. And at 2 in the morning, intrepid souls shouldered trees and took them home, the ultimate centerpiece.

I drove a little white Ford Fiesta then, a tiny hatchback. Someone helped me get my tree into the car - into, not on top - and I drove home from Brooklyn to Manhattan, perhaps less sober than I should have been. Happily, I found a parking space right near my apartment, and I muscled the tree out of the car, into the building, up the elevator, and into my apartment. My then boyfriend/now husband was duly startled when he stumbled out of bed the next morning and found a Christmas tree in the kitchen.

Origami tree at the American Museum of Natural History

Nowadays, we drive to the tree sale at the church in the next town, and tip the kid who helps tie the tree to the roof of the car. But somehow, the tree that stood on the opera house stage holds a sweet spot in my heart.


edj3 said...

I bet that was incredibly startling! Did you end up with pine needles in your car forever?

Jocelyn said...



the sandwich life said...

love this.