The Other Peekskills (Part 1) - With the much-hyped blizzard on the way, I was at C-Town at 7:15am stocking up. There was hardly anyone there and they still had plenty of staples. The few people checking out had armloads of bread, milk and eggs. I have a big pot of soup started, and it's just started snowing. Out of my 5 appointments today, only one has cancelled. But I'm thinking that may change.
A couple of experiences over the last week have reminded me how much more there is to Peekskill than the city center Artist District that I inhabit. With so many walkable services (bank, P.O., grocery store, shops, train station) and close-by friends, it's easy to forget that these few square blocks of downtown represent just a small part of our community.
Last Saturday was a magic marathon rivaling those heady pre-recession days. My fully-loaded car left Peekskill at 8am, and at 11am I was onstage at the Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center in front of a nearly sold-out crowd there for the opening show of their winter/spring Family Series. The show went great, but as soon as it was over I was frantically resetting, packing and loading out so that I could get to my second show - a birthday party - at the New Paltz Community Center. Again, I loaded in and set up tables, backdrops, sound system and magic show, performed the show, then even more frantically reset, packed and loaded out so I could make the tight connection to my final show - a 5pm birthday party right here in Peekskill. I wanted to be on time; they had rescheduled the party just so I could be there.
I confess that I'm not yet that familiar with the residential neighborhoods that surround Peekskil's commercial districts. I do have a few local homeowner friends, but I usually meet them at events or local eateries.
Pulling up to the modern, split-level home up near Peekskill High School had the familiar feeling of the hundreds of children's birthday parties I've performed for - the street full of parked cars and helium balloons tied to the mailbox. Since it was already dark, I could see the party in full swing through a big front window - kids tearing around, adults balancing drinks and plates of food.
I dragged myself in, already pretty exhausted. The birthday boy's mom, meeting me face-to-face for the first time, asked me if I'd like to eat first, then do my show. YES! So I ate and relaxed and mingled with lots of Peekskill parents and kids, none of whom I already knew - although a few had seen me perform at local events. Then everyone gathered in the family room for my magic show. (It's always lots more fun when the parents watch the show with the kids.)
It felt like affluent suburbia anywhere. But when I finally finished and loaded up my car (almost staggering with exhaustion) I was less than a mile from home. The drive took two minutes; the car's heater didn't even get warm. So I'm reminded - Peekskill is lots more than our downtown enclave. Peekskill is also lots families, pursuing their piece of the American dream.
Glad to be reminded...