Friday, April 3, 2015

Have you read this?

[This post was originally written in April 2014 and never published.]

It's called "The Opposite of Loneliness." It's by Marina Keegan, a 2012 graduate of Yale who died tragically in a car accident some 5 days after graduation at the ripe young age of 22.

A collection of her essays were published after her death in a book of the same name and while in Barnes & Noble today, I thumbed through it briefly and tonight, after I couldn't get the single paragraph I'd read out of my head, I bought it.

In the essay, Keegan talks about never losing the feeling that at any time in our lives, we can always begin. Begin writing, begin a journey, begin the next phase in our lives. The underlying current to the thought here for me is that there is no "middle." These are all our own constructs. We are free to build them and free to break them. She acknowledges that our own personal insecurities are most often our biggest boundaries. I couldn't agree more. As a doubt ridden twenty-something, I am delighted to reject the wretched notion of "it's too late" and that familiar feeling that everyone around you knows who they are and what they're doing except you.

If you're hungry for more from her, there is also this which left my mind racing late into a Sunday night. It's when I read something like that I realize my love for writing. I want to write. I want to think beautifully and commit those thoughts to the page and use beautiful words that someone might have to google to know the meaning of. I want to write to feel and to make others feel. So that they might read something I wrote and feel it deeply and carry it with them the next day like a dream from last night's sleep. Maybe that feeling will color their existence that day and while someone is talking to them about something mundane at work, they'll only half listen because inside, they're still reeling.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote from her essay, but friends, it's absolutely worth reading in it's entirety:

"But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30."

I wanted more of her writing, to get get lost in her prose and revel in her vernacular but thank goodness she burned so bright, if only for 22 short years.

Things I've Learned in Leaving NYC

[This post was originally written in June of 2014 and never published.]

My last post, just a little over a year ago, was on all the things I've learned in living in NYC. So much can change in a having left NYC, it only seems appropriate to write about what I've learned in leaving my once beloved city.

In the days and weeks before leaving NYC, friends would ask how I felt about leaving this place I boasted about and loved so much. All of my responses, however varied, centered around the idea that New York was a romance and this was the ending. I would call New York a bad boyfriend. I would call it a bad romance. I read an article recently that said New York is like the Prom King, and no one can be with the Prom King because he loves himself too much to love anyone else, that's probably the best one I've heard so far. While I still think of the city in those terms, I've also come to realize so much of my perceptions and eventual disillusions of the city were all based on self-imposed expectations of it.

You know the adage "if you don't expect anything, you'll never be disappointed?" If you're someone who abides by that then NYC is the city for you. Days when I thought my day would begin and end with no remarkable events to show for it, were the days I was pleasantly surprised by how giving the city could be. Perhaps the sun was just so in the sky that the treetops were golden or handsome strangers smiled at you or you catch the tail end of a worthwhile exchange of passerby. You can't ask for those days and you certainly never expect them. But when they come, they are like euphoria. They are soul food. You hang on to these days when others are less kind and you use them as armor against all of the other ailments the city inflicts on you because what other armor do you have?

The City tends to give you give you the things you do not need, the things you did not think to ask for ever before in your life unless you are of a rare breed known as the New Yorker, and I'm talking born and raised. But for the rest of us, you did not think to ask for Sunday brunches that are so picturesque you post them on Instagram. You did not think to ask for fashion and music that hasn't made it's way to the rest of the country yet. You did not think to ask to be ahead of the food trends because it did not occur to you that there were such things as "food trends" until you got to The City. Did you ever think you'd be able to get a coffee and bagel delivered to your apartment from your phone in less than 15 minutes? Did you think it would be possible to order chinese even in the middle of a hurricane? How about go dancing and be able to stay out until 6am without struggling to find places to go or people to dance with once you get there. I bet you never thought you'd be somewhere that people visit as their vacation, or that your place of residence was cause for ooh's and ah's at dinner parties when you go home. Isn't all of that just more than you ever thought you'd have?

But nothing is free and in the case of The City, you'll pay for your luxuries with more than just money. But I don't want to gloss over the much do you think a beer is in NYC? For fun, how much do you think a cocktail is? Those are rhetorical questions because we both know the answer is expensive. Do you know I once paid $22 for a drink? And that's not even the half of it. My rent cost the same as my parents mortgage on a 5 bedroom house in Ohio.

I left New York feeling heart broken, yes, but also like I needed the break. Or was it a break up? And now I find myself in Boston...more on that later.