We Are Our Characters

I am going to branch out on this post from the usual film kibbitzing to discuss the turning of a page in my life and the start of a new chapter, after a previous chapter which covered a very agreeable five-year time span spent in Philadelphia...and to also observe how cinematic the last two days have been for me. I have just moved to New York City, to an apartment on the 24th floor of a high-rise on the Upper East Side, to be exact. I think it would be a crime not to write about the last 48 hours in some form. So, as a freshly born hambone (I would have never even considered keeping a blog a year ago), I am choosing this online journal as the format for my account. Although I consider myself (apart from broadcasting my film work) a private person, I feel quite inspired to immortalize the contents of this post in an open forum.

I will begin by saying this: it is experiences like the events of my last few days of which movies are made, in my belief. How many films have you seen in which someone, if not the main character, packs it up and relocates to the Big Bad City only to have something outrageous befall them? There are at least a few I can name off the top of my head. I have no trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, but there are times where I see myself as the lead character in a movie, from a subjective P.O.V. camera's perspective. When I feel an emotion, I find sometimes find myself playing for the camera, even though I am well aware one is not there. It makes the moment richer to me. Life is cinematic to me, and I am a cinemaniac in that regard.

Okay, so onto the meat and potatoes. A friend of mine, along with a mutual friend of the two of us, helped me move two days ago. I do not have a license, so my friend was the driver. I rented a U-Haul, loaded up all my stuff and hit the road. It was an emotional time. I had grown very much to love Philadelphia, and the people I had known within it, and leaving it was not the easiest thing in the world (despite my eagerness to flee the operatic, obnoxious, broken-English kvetching of a psychotic Greek landlord).

All was well on the road. My kitty cat was relaxed and the other company in the truck was delightful. We moved into the new place without trouble, up all twenty-four floors, and went to celebrate with a few beers afterward. The Steelers won the Super Bowl (which, even though I really have no real care for sports, was proud of this due to the fact that I am originally a native Pittsburgher). Everything was going my way. We parked the U-Haul in front of the U-Haul place because they closed at 5:00 (why would they do this on a Sunday, I have no idea) and I was to come back the next day and drop off the key to the U-Haul folks. Leave it to the next day to be horrendously shitty in comparison.

The next morning, I arise, catch two subways down to Chelsea to the U-Haul place to find the truck missing! I went inside and asked the U-Haul folks if they pulled the truck into their garage. "It was towed," they told me. After much confusion and "Chinese fire-drill"-style hysterics and confusion as to where they towed the truck (mixed with a dash of corporate apathy), they told me I had to go down to the tow-pound to redeem it. Now keep in mind that I don't have a license and I don't drive. Even if I were to redeem the 17-foot truck, I would have no way to drive it back to Chelsea. I arrived at the tow-pound, a real hole-in-the-wall filthy pigsty on Pier 76, where I learned that the charge for "heavy-duty towing" was $390! Welcome to New York City, Mr. Daniel B. Kremer!

Outside, broken and about to keel over upon learning about the exorbitant charges, a nice Jewish couple approached me, claiming they overheard me talking to the abrasive and rude "pound receptionist" (for some reason, that seems like an oxymoron to me which is why I put it in quotations) about my case. Keep in mind that I wear tzitzis and a kippah 24/7 nowadays, and what they saw was a young man at the end of his rope within 24 hours of arriving. The man of the couple offered to drive it back to the U-Haul place for me. I couldn't oblige the offer because of various red-tape reasons, but he told me about how New York "tests" people. "There is always something that does that," he told me, after which he encouraged me to keep the faith and that all would be well.

Circumstances led to a U-Haul worker arriving to take care of the truck and relinquishing me to return to the Upper East Side to unpack my boxes. On the subway back, I sat next to an old man dressed in a very distinguished manner, in a nice, cashmere overcoat and a wool cap. He looked at me, and I felt his stare (keep in mind, he was about three inches away from me). He had seen one of my tzitzis hanging out. In Hebrew, he asked me, "Ben kama ata?" ("How old are you?"). It took me a moment to realize that he was speaking Hebrew (the roar of the train made it difficult to hear). When I told him 24, he said in an Israeli accent, "You look like you are 15 or 16," to which I laughed (even for an older man making the guess, this is quite a stretch). "How old do you think I am?," he asked. I guess 74-75. "You should have your glasses checked," he told me. I laughed again. "I am 91 years old," he told me. "You don't look it," I said. "You look amazing for 91." "Are you a yeshiva boy?" he asked me. We talked for a little bit more. When he was about to get off, he told me to go to Israel and join the Israeli Army, informing me that he was once a General in the Israeli army, offering me a Shalom Alaichem as he exited the train.

The day continued on after that, and other noteworthy things happened (like my chatty, but kind-hearted 67-year-old landlord stopping by to talk about tzedakah, the mandatory charity required of Jews of which he is a recipient in light of the fact that he has health issues and medical bill-paying becomes an issue...I am telling you, all this Jewish stuff just happened coincidentally), but this passage of time was particularly noteworthy to me. To me, it was very cinematic. It was my christening (if you will) into the city of New York. It may have cost me, but it was a test. And I just felt like writing about it. I just marvel at the fact that we can channel the so-called "tests" we are thrown in life into some creative engagement. It is the covenant that we have as artists...and yesterday, more than any other time, reminded me of the goodness of adventure (both good and bad). Even when I felt like disappearing and claiming a pseudonym when I was handed a nearly $400 bill, I just thought to myself, "Adventure allows for cinema and all the arts to take shape, whether they are positive or negative, real or imagined." The stories we tell each other are often not as powerful and worth their weight in gold as the stories we tell ourselves as we make our way through these adventures.

This has been Dan Kremer's Chicken Soup for the Pretentious Artist's Soul. This is Dan Kremer...out.

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