As the first snow of the year dances outside of my window, dressing this part of southeastern Michigan in its holiday garb, I am thinking about how things have a sneaky way of coming back around. I teeter back and forth with whether it’s beautiful or frightening that we’ve always been who we’ll always be, and right now I’m settling towards the optimistic side; that it's quite nice. Being Jewish you rack up an oddly deep sack full of Christmas traditions, and one of mine since childhood has been the movie Eloise at Christmastime. As a little girl, nothing seems more magical than having free reign of the Plaza Hotel for 21 floors worth of leaping and scheming, and for ME as a little girl, sort of lonely and prone to have crushes on my college aged summer camp counselors, nothing seemed more magical than all of that paired with the friendship of a piano playing waiter called Bill. A chivalrous blonde boy in his mid 20's with a sly smile, a knack for stage combat, and tremendous theatrical ambitions. Various aspects of Eloise’s big city fairytale lifestyle tugged at me mercilessly with no clear explanation. I loved her black Mary Janes, I loved New York City, and I loved Bill. None of these things, though, carried much weight with me the rest of the year. No black Mary Janes in the fall, or New York City in the summer, or Bill in the spring. Seasons changed, calendar years came and went, and as is nature, I began to grow up. I found new, more permanent things to love. I realized that lots of them, in some small seedy way, have been with me all along. It was all there in Eloise At Christmastime. My grungey yet feminine taste in clothes bares a striking resemblance to what one may fantasize as the dress of a grown up Eloise, as my wardrobe suffers no shortness of pleated skirts, long socks, dainty hair bows, and more than one pair of perfect substitutes for her black buckled Mary Janes. My fascination with the city of New York and all of the endless opportunities it may have to offer me, can be traced back to the Christmas Eve carriage ride taken by Eloise. The grimy magic of urban puddle jumping and skyscrapers and department stores surrounded her with a graceful strength that is impossible to ignore. Finally, there is Bill, as clear as day. The actor who played Bill, a man named Gavin Creel, has had a prolonged impact on my life in many ways since we met on either side of the screen with Eloise. He starred in “Hair”, the musical that I feel within my bones quietly influencing everything I make, he’s taught me in multiple classes at my favorite summer theatre program, and his voice on many a cast album has kept me in great company. Eloise’s black Mary Janes, New York City, and Bill. So little in this world seems constant, but I’m sure many more things are than we could ever figure to imagine. The loves we have never leave us, sometimes they just get hidden by a few inches of snow.
BY NINI KOURKOULIOTIS 🙂