In early 2003, when I was 17 years old and had just received notification of my acceptance to NYU, I made a solemn vow to myself that I would go to at least five cool places I had seen on Sex and the City and ALWAYS play it cool around celebrities. I made absolutely no vows regarding academic excellence or self-improvement. PHEW, right? Turns out, most of the clubs and restaurants from Sex and the City are kind of gross (ex: that bar where you sit on beds, scabies much? Magnolia Bakery? More like Magnolia BARFERY.) I had three exceptions to my "cool around celebrities" rule: Claire Danes, Matt Damon, and Daniel Day-Lewis. I gave myself permission to go fan girl apeshit if I ever encountered any of them. On a snowy winter's day in mid-December, I received an email from the cruel heart of death known as the NYU Registrar's Office. My alumni friends know that this is the place where hope goes to die. I am convinced that their entire staff consists of parolees who were convicted of enacting workplace revenge fantasies and Facebook fans of the Cathy comics. The email informed me that I had not paid my tuition for the following semester and would not be able to enroll for the spring until I paid. I stormed into the Registrar's office demanding answers. I was wearing a puffy white Gap coat like this, cause #2003:
The ragged harpie that worked there was of no use. When I said there must be some mistake, she told me, "I'm sure there's another student somewhere who would be willing to take your spot if you can't pay." I can only assume the troll is still there, squashing the dreams of Fighting Violets in the comfort of her swivel chair.
In a tizzy, I did what any self-respecting white teenage girl from the suburbs would do: I left a hysterically crying voicemail strewn with hyperbolic accusations like, "LOOK IF YOU DIDN'T WANT TO PAY FOR NYU, YOU SHOULDA JUST TOLD ME" for my poor father who, it later turned out, had actually paid my tuition for the following semester but NYU fucked some shit up. I walked across Washington Square Park, teary-eyed and dreading the future I saw before me: a return to San Diego, working at Bruegger's Bagels and enrolling at a state school where I'd resort to keg-stands as flirtation material cause I had(have) no real social skills.
I arrived at the light on Washington Square North, still audibly crying when a familiar voice asked, "Are you alright, child?"
I turned and saw this face:
Well, not exactly. He hadn't magically transformed into his babely 80s self and he wasn't dressed as Hamlet. It was really more like this:
Cause we all know that DDL is one scraggly motherfucker when he is not at awards shows. He was wearing a large silver cross earring, a fedora, and was much thinner than I thought he would be. But I knew my one true love when I saw him.
Now friends, this story should have gone in so many directions. Such as...
1. I tell him "No good sir, I am not alright. I have been left abandoned and penniless and am in need of a home."
He would have adopted me on the spot and since his wife is Rebecca Miller (child of famed writer Arthur) I would have been grandfathered into a great literary family and would have published several masterpieces by now instead of toiling away at Wordpress.
2. I tell him that I am in need of a ride home as I am lost. We ride off in style.
3. I claim to be dying of a strange illness and that my dying wish is to lose my virginity to Daniel Day Lewis. My signature line in this scenario is, "So let's Daniel Day DO THIS."
But alas, dear friends, nothing of the sort transpired. I gazed up awkwardly at him, wiped my tears and probably took in a big snotty sniffle, and said, "Uhhhh...I'm fine."
Still looking concerned he said, "Well...be well." The light changed and he dashed up Fifth Avenue. I stood in silence. Transformed. Perhaps transfigured.
I think often of our encounter. What could have been. And when days are long and nights are dark, I remember his command to me. And I am well again.