Serenaded by the New York City ballet

The morning after my epic night out with Bella and Eli, I went out to brunch with Tyler and his mom at the Bronxville Diner. I had a classic American diner meal: orange juice, bacon, and scrambled eggs. The afternoon that followed seemed to be going perfectly. I had Valentina over for tea, I watched “Pride and Prejudice,” with Colin Firth, of course, and I updated my resume– a very Raquel afternoon.

It was not until much later in the afternoon that I started throwing up violently and took my school’s shuttle to the emergency room. There was a dull, yet all-encompassing pain in my abdomen, but the real torture was throwing up every five minutes until there was nothing left but stomach lining. They gave me an IV to stop the nausea and vomiting and did a cat scan of my abdomen, which should make for a juicy medical bill. I was made to sleep sitting up with the lights and tv on, vaguely watching cable TV shows with the thinnest premises imaginable. An infomercial for a Jesus meditation service was on TV when I dozed off and an infomercial for a face cream that tightens up old lady’s faces was on when I woke up. They discharged me the next morning at 6am, telling me that they detected an acute infection in my abdomen, brought on by something that I ate. 

Me, not being dramatic at all

I took it easy for the rest of the week, not doing anything or going into the city until Friday night, when I made plans to go and see the ballet with Anahat. Back during our first year, Anahat and I passed on an opportunity to watch a rendition of Swan Lake. A few weeks later, we’d gone our separate ways to quarantine in different parts of the country, regretting missing our chance to watch the ballet. Finally, after two years at Sarah Lawrence College, Anahat and I made it to the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. 

We got ready for over an hour in her dorm room with our friend Alexis, with Anahat agonizing over whether she should wear that skirt with that top or those pants with those heels, while listening to Regina Spektor.

Alexis and me
See, I clean up nicely when I am not in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm

We took the One train to Lincoln Center, feeling completely overdressed when we stepped onto the subway platform, but all of that went away when we got to Lincoln Center, where everyone looked ready for a Vogue cover shoot.

Anahat was wearing a full ballerina skirt that we insisted she wear. She looked so radiant that undoubtedly no one looked at me the entire night. I felt like Jane Russell in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

The picture I was taking

I was wearing a long black pencil dress and pink heels since you can never go wrong with a reliable little black dress and a pop of color. If the full ballerina skirt made Anahat look like Carrie Bradshaw, then my little black dress made me Charlotte York. 

We scrambled to our seats just as the curtain was coming up, coming in on two wheels to watch an incredible ballet. It opened with a number called “Serenade,” where the women danced in tranquil blue dresses, standing on pointe and twirling at a dizzying, break neck speed. I was struck mostly by the movement, how the skirts moved with the dancers in the most fluid ways imaginable. I could almost feel my own muscles seething with pain every time they lifted their arms above their heads. The feminist in me was awakened as I appreciated the women’s command of their bodies and their space. I admired their coordination and precision and the way that nothing in the world could break their concentration. 

During events like this, I usually forget about the orchestra, but this time, since I was sitting on the sides and could see directly below me, I had a full view of the orchestra pit and those performing in it. It all was astounding. 

The second act could be described as a fashion show and a ballet, since the second half was intended to showcase outfits that were designed by famous Japanese fashion designer, Tsumori Chisato. The best way I could describe it is as if Picasso designed ballet costumes. 

Yes, I do know that it is wrong to take pictures of performers during a ballet. In my defense, I was not the one who took the photos.

Inspired by commedia-dell’arte style, the purely avant-garde outfits were gorgeous. There were faces and flowers plastered on their mostly-yellow outfits. At one point, a woman’s tutu was cut in half. Using our admittedly limited knowledge of ballet, we decided that the second act had the most unconventional outfits for the most conventional ballet routine, while the first act was soft and traditional, as far as ballet is concerned.  

The third and final act was a modern segment of ballet, which sounds like it could have been terrible, but was actually our shared favorite. There were clusters of people walking around like on a crowded street, then suddenly breaking out dancing. After that, silhouetted women shuffled across the stage in front of the scrim. 

I’m not sure about you but when I’m watching ballet, I try and figure out what the story is, if there is one. Could this be commentary on our need to burst out of the monotony of our routine lives? That’s what I’ll take away from it. 

When the ballet was over we had much to discuss and did so while getting a snack outside of Lincoln Center. After that, we met up with Anahat’s boyfriend Jordano, so that I might be introduced. One subway ride later we were at Air’s Champagne, a “parlor” in Greenwich Village. There are some places that you can describe in one word. This place could simply be described as “loud.” It was charming and colorful with a zany bartender and other charismatic patrons, but the word “loud” comes to mind first and foremost.

Being the first of Anahat’s friends to meet her boyfriend, I felt honored, but also obligated to size him up and make sure that he is good enough for our Anahat. I can’t build suspense so I’ll just tell you that yes he is. He was sweet and charming, making for a fun time at Air’s Champagne.

After a few hours, I called it a night and Ubered back to campus. It was one of those nights where I walked back to my dorm with my heels in my hand. Anahat and I both agreed that the whole night, from the ballet to the club, was thrilling. I was happy to have such a satisfying ending to a week that began with me curled up in the fetal position on a hospital bed, hurling into a trash can and calling out for help. Throughout the night we saw many college age girls, at various levels of inebriation, living it up in the city as well. Like all of those other girls, I had an equally wonderful and exciting night and can’t wait to do it all again.

It was a night to remember. I’ll report back with all my future nights like these. 

The Tragic Queen,


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