Life of a Temp
I had a rough week. Nothing “bad” happened. It has just been emotionally draining and confusing.
Two weeks ago,my best friend (Haley) and sister-in-law (Jeri) visited me in New York and I couldn’t believe how home sick it made me. It was such a great visit, and we were New York’s finest tourists anyone has ever seen. These were my people. These are the pee-with-the-door-open friends. These are the friends that have seen me at my worst, and hopefully my best. I missed that sort of connection, and I didn’t know how much. When they left my apartment at 5:30am I sat on my couch and cried. Not a few tears, it was the kind of cry where you can’t catch your breath. My emotion took me by surprise because things have been going decent for me here.
But I realized that when they walked out of the door, I was alone. The silence hurt my ears. Their absence hurt my heart. I felt lonely in my aloneness. Alone chasing whatever it is I am chasing. Proving to myself whatever it is that I am trying to prove. I dialed my brother’s phone number this week and had to hang up immediately because I couldn’t get myself together enough to say hello. I just burst into tears. I miss my brother. And I am missing my niece grow up. I miss my nephews, and I miss my sister. I miss being able to drop by my parents house to chat.
I had a great conversation with a co-worker, Claudia, last night, coming home from the Yankees game. She has only been in New York for one year and she came from Texas. It felt good to vent, and to empathize, and to hear from someone that I look up to that she is still having a hard time. She seemed so put together, and tough. But she is feeling the exact same thing. She gets scared on the late night train rides just like I do. She gets sad when she sees someone talking to themselves on the sidewalk. She feels overwhelmed with the tight space issues. Hearing these things make me feel more…normal. I feel unsettled and alone this week. She encouraged me to fight for what I came for. Everything is a fight here. She kept telling me that this place makes you better, because nothing is handed to you. I think I am used to not having to work so hard to make things happen. I am lazy, and this is not fun for me. I have learned so much about myself, and humanity since I have been here.
Now I need to remind myself what I am fighting for. What do I want? What do I really, really, really want? I need to shift my focus on the fight. Fight for what I came here for…even though that is even blurry today. Despite feeling inadequate, I have to pursue my dreams. I have so much I want to do. I want clarity on what I want to pursue wholeheartedly. I wish I could break open a fortune cookie to see what I was meant to do.
Part of me has a feeling that I want to run…perhaps to the West coast? Perhaps to a little town somewhere that I can afford. Somewhere with a washer and dryer. Somewhere where strangers smile at you. Somewhere with pollen.
To sum up my stream of consciousness here. This week is hard. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Most importantly; I have great friends, and a wonderful family. Despite feeling worn down I am forever thankful for the people in my life, and for the opportunity to stretch myself. Even though stretching hurts right now.
When the train zips over the Manhattan bridge and you can see the skyline of Downtown and a glint of the green from the Statue of Liberty, that is when I remember that I’m here. I’m here! It is easy to forget the simple fact that I live here now. I need to focus more upon living in the moment, and letting these flashes of New York sear into me.
I have been temping again this week, but it is an entirely different experience than my first assignment. I was able to come in for an hour last Friday for training (which was a very welcome task for me) and I did not expect the delightful experience that I had. A smiling face greeted me and offered me coffee, and one of the first thing she said was,
“Now where are you from? I know you aren’t from here, you don’t look jaded.”
I told here where I was from, and she asked questions, and I felt like she actually cared. It felt so good to talk to someone with such a cheerful personality. I felt like she actually saw me. She gave me shampoo samples (it is a high-end shampoo company) and sent me on my way feeling refreshed and nourished.
The company is in the meatpacking district, my favorite part of the city so far. As I walked away and had a silly grin on my face because I was so happy to have a job that was actually going to be pleasant. I looked up and noticed that a huge crew of people were setting up to shoot a movie right outside of the building! Tents were being set up, and the street was lined with trailers where I’m assuming an A-lister was sitting right inside. I didn’t stick around to see who was being filmed, but in that moment I was so deliriously happy to be in this city of opportunity. It was the perfect timing for me to receive the spark of a “New York moment.”
I saw my first musical improv show at The Pit, and it was amazing. There are so many amazing people here that are following their dreams! I was also able to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway this weekend, and it was incredible. I sat in my chair in wonder at the talent of the actors, and the beauty of the theater. Yesterday I ate lunch at Chelsea Market, and it reminded me a lot of Pikes Place Market in Seattle.
I am going to focus more upon looking around and really seeing New York…because, I’m here!
I was able to work a few days this week through my temp agency. I filed papers, in a storage closet for 17 hours. I spoke to two people in three days, and they were just giving me instructions. My hands were busy, but not as busy as my mind. I was stuck in the closet-thinking and getting choked up at the thought…
“Is this going to be my life in New York?”
I was the invisible worker. Replaceable. As a temp you are quickly forgotten, so why would the employees invest any of their time into you? I get it. But walking in on my second day I felt an unbearable sadness. Another day in the closet. My feet hurt standing up all day in dress shoes, and my wrist hurt (the constant reminder of my former career.) I cried the whole way home on my second day feeling completely defeated.
On my third day temping for the same company, I was a little more hopeful knowing that it would be my last day filing endless stacks of papers, but I was still so sad walking to the train station. While I walked down the stairs, I heard the most beautiful sound. A woman played the violin in the middle of the platform with her eyes closed. I stood close to her in the sea of people and I wept, not for sadness, but for the beauty of the music that she was giving to all of us. She gave me hope to finish my day strong. She made me realize why I’m here. This is the city of dreams.
The violin has always sounded a little sad to me- and it was like the exact sound that my heart was making. I was so moved by the sound of her music. It gave me strength for the day… for the week. With each person I meet, who is chasing their dream, it gives me nourishment- and it fills my soul a little.
That, and having a roommate who brings me home a root beer float when the city takes too much from me.
This city is hard. But it’s going to be worth it. The violinist taught me that this week.