Yesterday evening I walked up Lexington Avenue from Grand Central to 96th Street. Those fifty two blocks unfolding upon themselves. One stacking on top of another to form a New York story I wasn't quite sure I had.
Four jobs, three romances, countless auditions, and the beginning of adulthood.
The Mexican restaurant I worked at for one shift. My shoes, that I depleted my bank account for, cutting their woven pattern into my feet. Hobbling home clutching a burrito in my hand that I would eat while sitting cross legged in my bed.
The steakhouse, buried underneath a pile of office buildings, where if it weren't for the slivers of light seeping through the tiny windows it would always seem like night. The first and only time I've ever worn a suit was for that job. Scratchy and black. Nails nude and perfume non existent. My knock off Danskos from Payless offensively sticking out from the pant legs of my machine washable suit.
The luxury apartment building where I would wash towels at five in the morning; pleading with my eyes to stay open, my brain to remain alert. The voice that would repeat in my head that I was doing this for the early hours. That if I started work that early it would mean getting off early enough to make it to Equity Open Calls. My dreams of being a working actor parading in front of my eyes as I folded up freshly laundered towels while everyone I knew was still asleep.
The cake shop where one year quickly turned into seven. Each day blending into one another until I woke up and was so far from the person who I was when I graduated college that I was no longer sure how I could get back there or if I even wanted to. My dreams no longer aligning with my day to day life.
The friendships I made at these jobs. Some of these life long. Others ended once the job did. Our paths diverging into whatever was directly in front of us. Out of sight out of mind.
The bartender I made out with on 86th street at three a.m. Garbage bags tossing in the wind like urban tumbleweeds. Our short lived romance was the stuff that twenty two year old romance novels were built on. Our not-quite-relationship ending when his band left on tour.
The ex who I walked with in the park by the river. Leaning against the railing while we stared out at the grey sky. How much I wanted him to validate my existence. To say that I was impressive. How much I wanted to be impressive. My hands trailing the cold steel as I tried to not look into his eyes.
The bar where I fell in love with my partner- now spouse. It was my one year anniversary of living in New York City. It was unexpected- the feeling I felt as we laughed over a glass of wine. The warm summer air enveloping us as he walked me home.
My first apartment. First time living alone. The window that I would sit in during the summer months and drink Blue Moon. That same window that I cracked open in the winter because I didn't know how to control my heat. We didn't have radiators in Florida so I didn't know they were adjustable. My friends, ditching layers as they entered my apartment. Sweating like it was summer. One night the window froze open and I woke to snow gently falling on my face.
The restaurant I signed my lease at which is now a different restaurant. The layout still the same but the decor different. More modern.
The freedom and fear I felt as I got out of the cab that I climbed into at the airport. How quickly I went from baggage claim to midtown to clutching my keys as I put them into the lock of the first place that I could truly call my own. How I laid down on the floor, crappy bagel next to my head, and thought this is all mine.
That first night I went to an audition that I found in Backstage and even though I was jobless and weightless everything felt so much heavier than it does now. Age is a funny thing. The things that seemed so important then seem so much less so now.
As I walked last night, I was struck by how my dreams haven't changed but my timeline has. I'm no longer rushing towards success; a countdown clock always blaring in my head. My dreams have extended and they now have space in them for life. For the unexpected. For things I didn't even know that I wanted to do.
It's hard to relinquish control. To say I'm here and I'm going along for the ride. Fighting it is even harder. What's that saying? Life is what happens when you've got other plans? Well, thank God for that.