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Back in New York at last

Elysha and I returned to New York City on Saturday night to see Springsteen on Broadway.

Before the pandemic, I was in the city a couple times per month, but it’s been more than 16 months since I set foot in The Big Apple. Elysha and I saw Jagged Little Pill on Broadway in mid February of 2020, and then on February 29, 2020, I produced and performed in a storytelling and comedy show featuring Yale alumni.

That was it.

497 days later, we finally returned.

A lot has changed since I was last in the city. Many of the stores and restaurants around Times Square have been shuttered. Finding a restaurant that was still open was a bit of a challenge.

It was sad. It felt like the city was wounded.

I guess it was.

Prior to entering the St. James Theater, Elysha and I were required to present ID and vaccination cards, which was great. Half a dozen states – Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Texas and South Dakota – are run by mind-numbingly stupid Governors who have made it illegal to engage in this simple, protective practice.

Thankfully not New York.

Thus we were allowed to watch the show mask-free and feel safe.

Springsteen was incredible, of course. When Elysha was quarantined back in 2020 with COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus at school, I watched the Netflix version of his show more than once to buoy my spirits as I slept on the couch and tried to keep the house running. Saturday’s show was similar, with a dozen tent pole stories making up the spine of the show but with lots of room for improv and drift in between.

A man washing his hands in the restroom beside me said he’s seen the show four timers, and it’s never quite the same.

Brilliant. Just what I tell storytellers and public speakers all the time:

Don’t memorize. Remember. Allow yourself room for flexibility and adaptation. Be authentic. Don’t recite words. Tell stories. Speak from the heart.

Watching my favorite musician perform in such an intimate setting was unforgettable. Listening to him tell stories – the same thing that I do onstage – was insightful and illuminating and inspiring. Spending the day with Elysha – walking the streets hand in hand, sitting together in a Broadway theater, eating a subpar dinner in a New York City restaurant, and listening to music and talking in the car to and from the city – was exactly what I needed.

Exactly what I’ve been missing for the last 497 days.

Honestly, I was thrilled with simply being back in New York City again after being away so long.