In early 2015, a dear friend of mine invited me to help out with her (then 2nd grade) daughter Layna's class project. A couple weeks later I received a life-sized paper doll replica of Layna (made by real Layna, herself) and some further instruction.
Then - being a lover of dance - she can’t wait to tag along for class. It was all she could do to remain on the sidelines over the course of this hour and a half. In exchange for her patience, I had to promise we'd take a “jumpy pic” afterward. (*Thank you to Mike Kirsch and Broadway Donations for inspiring us both).
Flat Layna is shocked to discover that Friday nights are FREE at the MOMA. “I heard that nothing was free in New York City," she commented. (Naturally, we brave the crowds). Here, she admires a Rothko. (*Special thanks Shannon who was keen to help make this photo happen. Timely chance encounters with friends - even in the giant maze that is the MOMA - is one of those things that keeps NYC feeling both small and magical).
And in Bryant Park, despite the signage, she jumps into a planter to get a better view of these peculiar (but beautiful) bleeding hearts. I began explaining that maybe she shouldn’t be in there, but she stated quite dryly that she's "pretty sure there are worse things going on in this big town than a paper girl [trespassing] the planters." (She's got gumption, this one). (*For the record, there were no arrests).
So excited, in fact, that as she kept thinking about it ("I can't stop thinking about it!" she exclaimed. (She REALLY has a thing for pink)), she effortlessly began flying loop-the-loops in the gardens. “See! it IS possible. Our practicing worked!” A toddler passing by was mesmerized by this. (Flat Layna couldn't see what the big deal was. "I don't understand why more people don't fly," she said plainly as if she’d known how to fly this whole time).
She's beginning to feel remarkably at home. Even the likes of occasional rat-sightings in the NYC subway stations won't wipe that smile off of Flat Layna's face. "I think they're cute," she says. "Could I take one back to Minnesota maybe?" When I tell her they'd probably miss their moms, she understands right away and drops the subject.
And no trip to NYC would be complete without a walk (or several) through Central Park. As we strolled along she kept remarking how she wouldn't mind living on THAT STREET one day (indicating Central Park West). I told her that it's good to dream. She was resolute, assuring me she could never be side-tracked from dreaming. ("I also dream of a day when all those tied-up horses [pulling the carriages] will be free too," Flat Layna mentions (becoming noticeably upset anytime these would pass by).
And when my roommate's out of town, Flat Layna insists upon our playing "in Kate's room because her room has better colors than yours." Well, touche. I practice my guitar and sing. She bounces on the bed. And flies some. And all is well. (*It should be noted that Kate loves this photo, and wasn't bothered in the least discovering that we'd infiltrated her space without prior permission).
*It's worth noting here that Flat Layna joined me for a slew of other un-(photographically)-documented adventures over the course of her stay. She had very mixed feelings about having to head back to MN. "But don't worry," she assures me, "I'll be back. And I'll own this town one day."
*Flat Layna also makes a cameo in this music video I created with my brilliant friend Camela Widad. Here is "My Turn," off of Camela's album "Warriors of Love." (Don't blink around 1:50 or you might miss her).
*And here's a photo of real Layna holding her album of pics from the project.
*Photo by Sarah, Layna's mom