Saturday, June 10, 2023

Goodbye, Sweet Caroline

This is my dear friend, Caroline Rosenstone. She left this world's stage on Tuesday and it feels as if the lights have dimmed.

I loved Caroline. She could make me laugh like no one else. She looked at every little bit of life and sought out the comedy, the absurdity. She made life beautiful and magical.

I met Caroline in 1995 when I interviewed for a teaching position in the writing program at the Educational Center for the Arts. We sat in a classroom upstairs from the school's theater. But the room looked more like a college dorm than a classroom. The walls were covered with India print bedspreads and one wall was covered with student writing--stories and poems and monologues. Caroline and I sat on an old couch and talked and talked and talked. This was more like a coffee klatch than an interview. Even before we walked out the door, I knew I had made a new friend. And I also knew that teaching at the Educational Center for the Arts would change my life forever.

ECA was a lot like that high school from the movie, Fame. We had dancers, writers, poets, musicians, visual artists, sculptors and actors. Every day was full of unexpected drama and comedy and theater. We lived in that rarefied atmosphere that comes when a like-minded group of people get together with the sole purpose of entering into the laboratory of the imagination--mixing the real with the unreal, liberally adding all the senses—taste, touch, smell, sight and sound to create story.

All this happened because of Caroline and her magical approach to teaching. She believed in the transformative power of writing. The fact that we had students as young as thirteen didn't matter. We were all writers. That's what mattered.

Many of her students will tell you about her magnificent teaching and her brilliant editing. They will tell you about her unbridled enthusiasm for the written and spoken word. However, as her friend, I had the rare privilege to know her as a confidant, a partner in crime and the kind of girl (because, yes, even into our sixties, we called each other girl) that could get you laughing so hard you have to stop in the middle of a New Haven street and hold onto a parking meter for fear you're about to wet your pants. And if you mention this possibility, she would grab you by the arm and make you laugh some more. She made you feel as if you were five and fifteen, thirty, forty and all the various ages that live inside of you at any given time.  

We shared a love for Hollywood and the movies and in fact, she once told me that I was like Marilyn Monroe (and then she paused for comedic effect) with a high I.Q. Whether this is true or not, I have ever since held this delightful little compliment close to my heart. Even now, I blush thinking about it. 

Caroline loved the movie There's Something About Mary starring Cameron Diaz as the adorable, popular girl with the autistic younger brother. Ben Stiller plays the boy who is in love with Mary and who is kind to her brother and this is what ultimately leads to his winning Mary's heart. Caroline had an autistic brother too. And she was kind to him. Even more than the power of comedy, Caroline believed in the power of simple kindness.

All this is made more amazing when you consider the fact that she had a rather bleak childhood. In fact, we talked about this during our last conversation just a couple of weeks ago. We talked about how we each cope with the travails of life and we talked about what brings us comfort. 

And then, somehow or another--I can't remember how--we laughed and laughed and laughed and I recall saying, oh, Caroline, no one can make me laugh out loud the way you can. 

 Little did I know that just a few weeks later, she would be gone, taking with her a precious source of joy.

Creative Friends, in honor of the recently departed Caroline, your assignment is to take the most awful thing you remember from your childhood and alchemize it into something truly funny. Then, I want you to laugh. Laugh out loud. Laugh so hard you might lose control of yourself.

Finally, have fun.



To learn more about the inimitable Caroline Rosenstone, please visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.