lonely lovely city

lonely lovely city

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eleven years young....

I have been asked to repost my story of how and when I moved to NYC by a fellow blogger, Julie Jones, who maintains, fillmeupnyc. So here it goes...

I keep track of the day I moved to New York City. November 1, 2000. I know, I am a dork. I was a bright-eyed, naive, young man who had just spent four, long years in Los Angeles. I had transported myself with two suitcases, $2000, one contact, no friends, and a nauseous foundation.

I rented a room for $500 in the top floor of a bed and breakfast in Staten Island. I'd take the ferry every day on the murky, frozen atlantic and commute to my corporate job in Midtown. During breaks, I would go out and and ponder and gawk around all the towering skyscrapers, listening to the sirens and cab drivers screaming, and take in the smells that seemed so foreign to a west coast transplant--a kid basically--who was in the middle of mid-twenties panic.

After several roommates, insufferable commutes on thousands of subway rides, unpleasant exchanges with strange people, dozens of jobs I hated, droves of horrendous dates (don't ask about Tony) or the umpteen times I fell on my ass, thinking I'd never get on my feet again and move forward, I kept going. So many dark moments have risen, yet, I go on like nothing happened. There is something nourishing about living in NYC in that one is allowed, if not granted the opportunity to re-invent themselves whenever and wherever they want. If a neighborhood, job, or relationship isn't working, you pick up and transition by moving to another borough, creating a whole different path with a interesting set of friends.

So many moments I've said out aloud as I've walked into a puddle of water on a dirty street or getting pushed out of the way by oblivious party kids on my block, that I can't wait to leave. But, then I get up in the next morning, revived, thinking, I can't imagine living elsewhere. In my humble opinion, NYC is the only livable city in America.

I look back eleven years later and question the progress I've made along with the personal success I've tasted. Much of what I thought I'd do or who I'd become didn't happen. But, the parts of myself that I thought never would surface, did, in bountiful ways. I feel stronger, mature, more content and comfortable in my skin. I stuck it out even if I was down to my last dollar. My intuition is growing. Perhaps, I sound trite. Whatever.

Some people ask where I am from. Originally, I mention, with reluctance, that I am from Nevada. But, I then preface it with saying I am a New Yorker. I feel I've at least earned that after being around for over a decade. At least that is what Carrie Bradshaw said in the third season of SATC. "It has been said one can truly call themselves a New Yorker when they have been there more than ten years."

I often wonder what keeps me here. Its not like I am ensconced in what I imagined I'd achieve. A lot of what we all crave forms as you plan it. Whether that pertains to a relationship or career or even state of mind, I think all of us go out there, well at least some of us, and attempt to demand more.

I don't question if I can't make it. I can and I have. If I were to move to another mecca, I wouldn't worry about survival. I think in staying so long without much of a support system, I've acquired life skills. What makes you stay in a city like New York for so long?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

When life happens

I posted a brief mention about the recent passing of my father just a few days ago. But, after less than 24 hours, I took it down. It seemed insensitive, possibly rash, to write about him suddenly.

When my father died on Christmas three weeks ago, I was in a state of shock. As I flew three thousand miles out west to be reunited with relatives not seen in almost twenty-years, it was surreal, but familiar, almost like I had just seen them the other day.

The three and half days I spent out west shifted my perspective about expectations and grudges. I know, it may sound strange, perhaps overtly dramatic. But, I feel lighter and relieved because I am empowered to think and act differently. There were so many things about him I didn't know. The friendships he maintained since his childhood, his marriage to his new wife after the divorce to my mother, the things he did before he even met my mother and had my brother and me, and all of the remnants he held onto throughout the duration of his life. I was astonished because I didn't know him at all.

When I walked into his apartment, I could smell him. His personal scent was something I had forgotten until I entered. It was manly as always, distinctive, but impossible to describe. Even though he was gone, I could inhale this last part of him.

I stood there with my cousin and went through his valuables. Both walls clocks, one from the living room and the other right next to me were heard loudly. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Time was passing. I opened the drawers to his packed desk and discovered things I had remembered about the way he kept the order of his belongings. Cluttered and tidy. My father was a hoarder and had this manner of doing something so organized, yet so quirky.

He would take the tops of shaving cream bottles and the empty cans of tuna fish and put loose coins and paper clips in them. This is what I remembered when I was a little boy and this is exactly how it was when I stood as a grown man opening the third top drawer with a antique silver handle. I carefully examined each of the cans and discovered how they were labeled. Whether it be nickels or pieces of gum or even the syringes for his insulin, he labeled it with a piece of paper, the writing in black ink, followed by a massive strips of tape protecting the label itself.

I went to his closet and found suits from the 80's and 90's, staples from my own childhood. My cousin and I stood in his bedroom and commiserated. Since he was her Uncle, they shared an even stronger bond, more intact than my connection to him. As she mentioned things about his other life, I nodded and felt ambivalent. What I realized as we were speaking was in that of our rift and misconnection as father and son, here was a man who loved and accepted me. I could talk to him like he was right there. Our relationship was easier now.

Of course there is more to that and the many more moments that followed, including his memorial service and funeral, but I am choosing to keep that private. The one thing I took from that solitary moment as I sifted through his stuff was the misguided anger and resentment for lack of sustaining a solid bond with him that didn't matter anymore. Life was happening around me. I was reuniting with long lost relatives, gaining closure on such a personal subject, and experiencing an open heart again.

For those that know me, most would say that I am a planner. I plan everything from excursions to upcoming films to dental appointments months away to cities I plan on visiting down to the exact dates. I plan. That's what I do. But, what I need to do more of is being in the present and taking in every minute in between. That is probably what my dad would have wanted me to do. Being happy.

This was something I struggled with for years until three weeks ago. The way in which I set out to carve my life has changed. I still have my goals and dreams. I am just not so freaked out about my future or the tiny details I tend to obsess over. I have my dad to thank for that. Seeing him once more was an invaluable gift. It brought me closer to those that matter and it drove me faster to my core and the expectations I put on myself.

Dad, wherever you are, I extend peace and gratitude. I love you.