“Some people make the world special just by being in it.”
Ten and a half years ago, I watched my first episode of General Hospital. Six years ago, I met one of my absolute favorite actresses from it, Nancy Lee Grahn, for the first time. Four years ago, Nancy came back to New York for another event. Two years ago, she hosted a third get-together. And yesterday, during a luncheon that was filled with laughter, joy, appreciation, and sincerity, she gave me a plethora of new memories to smile upon forever.
Nancy is gracious, genuine, and down-to-earth. She plops down next to you at the table, talks to you like you’ve been friends forever, and remembers so many little details from years ago that it makes you marvel. So, when she announced her most recent event in New York, I didn’t think twice about buying a ticket. Nancy’s events are simply not-missable. She’s just that awesome.
Bright and early yesterday, Mom and I headed up to NYC. Penn Station was surprisingly quiet for a holiday weekend (well, at that point, anyway – not so much on the journey home), and as we waited for our connecting train out to Long Island, chords of violin music and tinkling, twinkling Salvation Army bells played in the background. After the second train ride, we arrived at the adorable boutique restaurant where the luncheon was being held. Nancy’s previous events have all been in NYC hotels, so this had a completely different vibe. It was smaller, more intimate (which is hard to achieve at a Nancy event, because they’re already so personalized), and even more laden with laughter than usual. She did her usual “pinky swear,” where we all promised not to repeat anything, so no spoilers. I’ll just say that, as always, she was her lovely, earnest, passionate self.
She chatted for two hours – about everything from Thanksgiving to her driving escapades to Twitter – and was full of humor, insight, wit, and eloquence. She moves around so much that it was tough to get pictures (gonna have to explore that “fast motion” setting on my new camera!), but I managed to snap a few. Favorite one? Nancy showing off her waitressing skills. She blew into the restaurant like a whirlwind of energy and immediately ran over to grab this tray of drinks. “I’ll serve you all!” she declared happily, and then she proceeded to do just that.
As always, visiting with her one-on-one was my favorite part. She signed our picture from last time, then happily signed another for a friend of mine up in Massachusetts who wasn’t able to attend. Quotable line: “I’ve already managed to forget what her name is. Can you remind me?” It was extra amusing because I hadn’t yet told her. We talked for quite awhile after that. She’d mentioned several times that she wants to write about her experiences – “that’s going in the book!” – and how much she admires writers, so I told her that she should seriously pursue it. She’s so talented and so articulate that she’d honestly have a bestseller on her hands. I brought her up to speed on my books and publication quest – she knew about the journalism, but not the creative writing – and she asked if it’s hard to get published. I said yes, of course, and I swear, I’ll never forget the look on her face when I told her I’ve gotten requests from agents and that the full manuscript is currently out with one. The way her eyes got wide and she beamed will forever be imprinted in my mind, as will her “that’s AWESOME!” She asked me what the books are about and listened – genuinely cared and listened – as I described them. Then – this cracked us up – she looked at my mom, winked, and went, “is she good?!” She was teasing, of course, but Mom still launched into this whole mini-speech about my writing. ‘Twas cute on both their parts. We took a few pictures (“I wasn’t ready! Let’s take another!”), and then, in a moment I will always treasure, she turned back to me and said “Keep me updated about the books. I’ll buy them! I want to read!” So sweet and so sincere, too. Made my entire day and then some.
And, because this is too amusing not to post … the restaurant where the event was held is located in Great Neck, Long Island. Struck us funny since my constant writing-editing-querying results in too much computer work, and, subsequently, some rather not-so-fun neck pain. Maybe this is a sign that it’ll disappear for good?
Huge, ginormous thank yous go out to Nancy for yet another fabulous experience. It was truly sunshine for the soul. There are some people who make this world special just by being in it, and she’s one of them. Her heart’s as big as her talent, and I will always be grateful for the memories she has given me to treasure.
Have you ever met a favorite actor or actress? What was it like?