Friday, March 4, 2016

Day 5 - Habitat for Humanity & Team Dinner

Waking up with the sounds of shuffling mattresses echoing beneath rested snores. 6:30 am. Somewhere in the reservoirs of my muscle sound memory (not sure if that's a thing) we wait for Jasminn's sunrise time check.

After a quick-fire breakfast and group check in, we make our way to The Habitat Site for the last time this trip. Though we're tired and our muscles still feel the strain from yesterday's incredible work, the energy in the air to finish what we started is as palpable as ever. We split up into our respective groups again and begin the day's work. It's very difficult to do justice to the determination shown by everyone. I like to think of it as a little musical arrangement of sweat, laughter and frustration. Be it Natsuko and Vicky P hammering away 20 feet above the ground while a graveyard of nails piles up below them. Or the ever persistent walk of Jayme Lawson as she hauls the next storm board with the sunlight reflecting off her sunglasses and into everyone's spirits around her. JJ's infectious smile rippling across the yard, Daniel walking like James Bond with 7 different types of power tools on him at all times, Sean oozing a whole lot of Marlon Brando AND Sabrina painting the post of the front yard just like a mother would take care of her child. A shoutout to Alyson, Sarah, Teague, Julie, John and everyone else who helped guide and assist us every step of the way. 

At lunch we witnessed a little bit of magic. We set up a small space in the front yard of the house across us and put up a short performance for the neighbourhood. I could go on for hours about what happened but I'll cut it short and pick out a moment that will stay with me for a while. It was the coming together of Michelle singing Summertime with Isaiah on the piano while Sean Jr and Riley danced to it. Pianist on the porch, singer poised on the steps and dancers moving through gravel and dirt. Time stood still - even the dust in the air paused to witness what was taking place. The sounds of Riley's feet brushing against stone, Sean Jr making leaps of faith on unkind surfaces - but they all had each other. They leaned on one another; it was that moment when you understand for a brief second how art can be just a little bit more about us, and less about 'me'. 

We left the site with exhausted limbs but fulfilled smiles. Our work is far from complete, but we're a few nails closer to another window to another life, and a couple of paint brush strokes away from a room for four children to play in. One more family is closer to calling a house a home. 

Cafe Pontabla is where we had a well deserved dinner of crawfish, gator and company. Chuckles and smiles were served all around. Later on we had the privilege of watching team member and native New Orleanian Jeffrey Miller play with the Uptown Jazz Orchestra at Snug Harbor. Watching him at home playing with musicians who loved and appreciated him as much as we did was overwhelming in all the best ways. 

Two hours later we found ourselves starting a flash mob-like dance on the street a block away from Snug Harbor. Grooving to a local jazz band, tourists, vendors, children, senior citizens all joined a bunch of happy Juilliard students enjoying the New Orleans night. 

The night ended with beignets and hot chocolate at Cafe Du Monde. Before we knew it, we were in bed, ready for NOCCA the following morning.

My acting teacher told me, "We don't have enough time, so live slowly." Today that began to make a little bit of sense. #EndofDay5 

Keshav Moodliar
MFA Drama '19
1st year NOLA team member

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