I’ll never forget my experiences in New York City for the 6 days from Friday, October 31st (Halloween) to Wednesday, November 5th.
To be sure, New York City is always an exciting place to be, especially on Halloween.
But this was outrageous.
Day 1, Friday October 31: Halloween
Halloween is that holiday that allows you the potential to be who you want to be for one night. Watch out when New Yorkers are offered that opportunity!
When Halloween lands on a Friday or Saturday evening, it tends to be much larger and much wilder. This year it landed on a Friday, which is actually even better than being on a Saturday partiers and Trick-or-Treaters tend to be tired from the night before!
Halloween at my work (The Green School) was really fun, with students dressed up and a more casual vibe. In English class we read the Tell-Tale Heart and in History we explored the history of Halloween. One class of mine danced while I played music for them from my iPod and filmed them.
Halloween evening began by meeting at the home of Adrianna a truly magical goddess from Brazil who dazzles everyone in her path. Soon our group of about 8 close friends were at her place with costumes either part completed or not completed at all. We set in on decorating each other from every angle possible while taking video footage of the entire event! In the middle of it I met very good friend of a very good friend whom I had never met until that night and who I had just decided to invite to the party spontaneously.
More on that later.
At about 7pm we headed out into the haunted night in two different taxis, driving from the Lower East Side to about 6th Avenue and Spring Street in SOHO. It was then that I learned just what a parade could be. Sure, NY is known for their parades, and I’d seen huge Halloween crowds in San Francisco, but nothing like this. The costumes were made by some of the top artists in the world. The characters were acted out by members of the most talented theater and film communities in the world. It was like being on a Halloween Planet, comparable perhaps only to Burning Man, but a different context.
We slowly worked out way north up 6th Avenue, holding hands in a long line of about 8, dressed so fabulously. To be in the parade one must be patient, waiting one’s turn until the crowd moves, and from that point on the street had barriers so that before you know it you are the focus of large crowds on both sides and it occurs to you that you are in a massive parade! At this point it is all a blur as the 8 of us twirled and danced and met others in the parade with us and had such an incredible time.
Before we left we made sure we had a “cell phone fabric” to keep in connection, knowing that inevitably we would be pulled in different directions. After a group effort we managed to meet at the same noodle shop and we ate together in triumph, makeup smeared and all.
Then it was time for the after-parade party at the home of a friend of Todd’s. Suddenly there we were on the 8th floor of NYU buildings full of more costumed people and we continued to dance and eat and drink, stepping into the role of our costumes. We went on and on for hours as a few other friends joined the group.
I should mention that this group of friends is truly remarkable. I’ll post some picture soon of a Salon we had on November 9th and you can get a sense for how close we have become in the past month or so.
Day 2, Saturday November 1: NY Rhythm Society’s All Night Dance Celebration
Saturday was a day to get some perspective. I slept and took it easy for most of that day, but managed to get the energy together to go to the East Coast All Night Dance Celebration through the Divine Rhythm Society, where I saw friends from the West Coast Rhythm Society who I had not anticipated seeing!
Day 3, Sunday November 2: New Housemate David Potter
Sunday I found a new housemate. I had been looking for the ideal apartment-mate
For over a month, being really particular, knowing that it’s a big step to choose someone to live within the same walls as you. Thanks to Jerry Candelaria, a friend of 18 years who lives in California, I found just the right person! Jerry told David Potter, who he also had known for as many years (20 or so), that he should call Scott Hannon right away.
David dropped by Sunday evening and we discovered that we were like long-lost brothers, our conversation flowing in the most remarkable ways and entering profound states of consciousness. During our conversation we moved closer and closer to seeing the potential and when I mentioned that we had sung Kirtan just one week ago, he said “That’s it…I’m in!” We haven’t looked back since! That night David brought over some bags from his other residence and it also just happened that Ella Luckett asked to stay over that night, too, and she arrived after midnight.
Day 4, Monday November 3: Led Arete Co-ed Circle
Monday morning it all caught up with me and I had difficulty getting out of bed. I felt sick and called in to report I would be late for work. Ella helped me with some orange juice and I somehow pulled it together. I went home immediately and went right to sleep, for it was the only way I would be able to get myself up in time for an Arete-style Circle I was scheduled to lead that night! I managed to get up, set up my place, go shopping for food, and be ready for my 4 guests. I facilitated a discussion about the principles of circling and coaching that Jerry and Guy had explained to us earlier and we had a beautiful circle. Somehow I managed to stay up to have another legendary talk with Mr. Potter, but soon I was out cold, preparing for what may be the most important day in a century-the presidential election!
Day 5, Tuesday November 4: Election Day
It was so exciting to wake up on Tuesday knowing what was at stake for the country and the world. I was fairly nervous although Obama had enough of a lead that it was not as frightening. The students did not have to come to classes this day because we decided to make Election Day a staff development day and we worked on improving our curriculum and our teaching techniques. Of course we were all very distracted by the election and we ended up talking about our experiences voting that morning and where we would be watching the election.
Finally the work day was over and I went out to vote for Obama in one of the most historic elections of our time. The polling place was on South 3rd at Roebling at a Junior High School and it was so magical to be in that booth that I took photos and video of the inside. People were so excited and so friendly that it was even difficult to leave. On the way out a woman handed out delicious cupcakes that she had baked herself. It really felt like a little community in that school.
After a nap I made my way on the subway to the East Village where I briefly dropped by a club called The Element. I moved on to a party connected to my friend Ella but she had not arrived so I made my way to the location of our election party-the same location where our Halloween Party took place…so it felt like a full circle within these magical 5 days.
Every result seemed to point to an Obama victory and the anticipation grew and grew.
It felt so good to have five members of our community-Todd, Julia, Ernest and Aileen, there to experience this historical moment together.
Then came 11pm when the returns were sent from several key states, and it was projected that Barack Obama was the next president of the United States! We went absolutely crazy. I was so happy to get footage of the moment that Obama was elected…it started with the announcement and then I took footage of everyone in the room cheering just moments after the announcement, spiraling around the room to get a variety of reactions, returning to the television screen to get footage like Jesse Jackson in tears and crowds of people cheering.
Needless to say the rest of the night was very special.
Day 6, Wednesday November 5: The Effect of Election The Green School (my work)
I teach at The Green School in East Williamsburg, a part of Brooklyn. It is a remarkable school focused on sustainability and designing effective curriculum for differentiated learning styles. The teachers there are truly inspiring. From the moment I walked into the building I could feel the energy, the excitement, the joy.
The Green School is in the middle of the projects. It is about 75% African American and the rest mostly Hispanic and Middle Eastern. There is not one white student in the school. As I walked through the school there were groups of students hugging, chanting, crying, laughing, and celebrating. I’ve never see a group of teens who understood and felt that level of awareness of the impact of this election. The entire day there were chants of “Obama” and other related words.
Just try to imagine growing up African American in the projects of Brooklyn and having George W. Bush as pretty much the only president you have known in your entire life.
Imagine what it would mean to you and everyone in your world to have Barack Obama elected president of the United States! All week we’ve talked about this election and it has been a part of academic lessons as well as any work I’ve done related to counseling and student coaching.
Finally, there has been a noticeable positive shift in how the students have chosen to relate with me, as if there is an anxiety lifted off of them that they did not know was there before. They have let me into their world in an entirely new way as they (and I) experience the world from a much more optimistic stance.
This was 6 consecutive days I’ll never forget.
*It wouldn’t be right to not mention that then on Sunday, November 9th this remarkable group of us who spent Halloween and Election Day (most of us) together also had a “Salon” potluck dinner on which was just as extraordinary as the the other days. We each talked about where we grew up and what our main inspiration is in our lives. Aileen Morgan sang for us, we sang Kirtan together, and then I facilitated a “salon conversation” which took the form of all of us striving to be in the moment together as much as possible…and the result was extraordinary.
So call it 7 Days to Remember…but we all have a feeling there will be many more to come with our beautifully inspiring community…