The set for the play of my life

CVS at Night

When I first moved to Philadelphia I didn’t have a car. I didn’t know many people. I worked 13 blocks down the street from where I lived. My world was small in those days, both in the physical distance I traveled regularly and in the mental space I devoted to it.

Part of my small world was the intersection and CVS you see above. That first summer I lived in Philly, I would spend many nights sitting in Rittenhouse Square. On my way home I’d stop in to CVS to pick up a snack or a bottle of shampoo or a magazine. There was one Saturday night when I stopped in there, wandered around for fifteen or twenty minutes and came out with a pint of ice cream. As I walked down the block back towards my building, a man came jogging after me, saying “excuse me!”

He told me that he had watched me as I walked around the store and thought it was sad that such a pretty girl was all alone on a Saturday night. He told me that he was alone as well and would I be interested in meeting him at a bar down the street in half an hour for a drink. Because we were both alone.

He must have been twenty years older than me and despite the creepiness of the approach, there was something sort of pitiable about him. You could tell that it had taken a lot of risk on his part to approach me. I smiled at him, thanked him, told him no and went home to eat my ice cream.

I’ve often thought that if I wrote a play about my life in Philadelphia, that this corner would be the stage set. I used to take my grandmother into that CVS so that she could look at lipsticks and bottles of nail polish. For a while, it was my primary grocery store. I ran into my friend Sophie outside of it last Sunday. And back in the days when it was still a movie theater, I saw E.T. there.

Can you think of any one place that you would declare to be the set for the play version of your life?

10 thoughts on “The set for the play of my life

  1. Em

    I’m sad for the man that approached you. Who knows what could have happened (good or bad) had you taken him up on his drink offer?

    I think the stage of my life would be played out at my kitchen table. Many conversations (both serious and not), drinks (both good and bad, alcoholic and not), recipe attempts (both failures and successes), laughs and tears have been shared there.

  2. Sparky

    well if it had to be a CVS, that is a good one at least.

    My set used to be my old place of work, all our lives would intersect and they were like sisters and mothers to me. Now I am not sure, though if we were shooting a movie, I would have to for sure make sure there was a photoshoot in Hawaii, just because

  3. howard

    I always wince in empathy whenever anyone gets rejected, but I remember when I first mustered the courage to approach a woman and float an idea out of nowhere (never know what’s possible until you try, right?).

    I still can’t narrow my life’s set down to less than a half-dozen backdrops, but I’ll let you know whn I’ve got it down to, say, three or four.

  4. Anthony

    I like that. The bus could be used to drop off new characters as it passes.

    Mine is the garage where my old band used to rehearse. Lots of life issues (good and bad) shared and lots of good music. I like that, too.

  5. Lolie

    I used to go to that CVS all of the time when I was in art school! My friend Christine would have to stop there for cigarettes after the bar, and she would inevitably get all teary while wandering around the aisles, and frequently sit down on the floor and refuse to move. Ah, memories. Thank you so much!

  6. Marisa

    Em, I was kind of sad for the guy who approached me too. He seemed fairly harmless, though.

    Sparky, it is a good CVS. I like your idea of making sure to include a photoshoot in Hawaii. I have cousins out there, I’m sure I could incorporate them into the story.

    Howard, I look forward to hearing your top three or four backdrops.

    Anthony, very nice, I hadn’t thought of the bus delivering new characters. I like your rehersal garage, I can just see it.

    Lolie, I’ve seen all types of behavior at that CVS, so I’m not at all surprised to hear that your friend would sit down in the aisles.

  7. Sicily

    Wow. I love this set idea!

    I never got to stay in one place long enough…
    I am in the middle of another move now too 🙁

    I think my set would be like my dreams…where I am in my bedroom, then I walk in the next room and suddenly I am in my aunt’s house, then I walk in the next room and it is my grandma’s kitchen…

    Do you ever have dreams like that? Where the landscape is a patchwork of disconnected places?

  8. Marisa

    Sicily, good luck with your move, they are neither fun nor easy. Here’s hoping that you can stay in the new place for a while!

    I have had dreams like that where you are in one familiar place, and you walk through a doorway, expecting to know where you are going to end up, but what you see on the otherside of the door is not what you expected. I always kind of enjoy those dreams though, I like to see what my sub-conscious is going deal up.

  9. Jeff

    Marisa–I read this bit about the cvs on Friday–then over the weekend I saw in that architectural salvage store on Main in Manayunk they had the letters used to put movie titles up on the marquee at the old Boyd (that theater) for sale for fifteen bucks a pop. For about sixty bucks, it looked like you could spell something like FFYL. Just in case you need extra props.

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