follow your heart

Remember the Romance

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IMG_1808People often ask why I moved to New York, and I can’t really give a solid answer.

I had zero interest in New York City. Like, none…until I did.

When I read my rejection letter for a creative writing program at Boise State University in a Starbucks parking lot, the tears came fast and hard. I tried to blink them away to read and re-read the email. The moment embodied hopelessness. This hopelesness was not about getting rejected by Boise State, and I know that now. But grad school was my way out, my hope, it was my chance to move on. I had just suffered a breakup that still can wreck me if I let it. A breakup that still makes my voice crack, and a breakup that has made me push every guy away for the last three years. Not getting into grad school felt like I lost an opportunity to move forward. Because I didn’t feel like I had any other options. I felt physical pain in my chest and I didn’t know what to do.

I sat there in my car crying tears for so many reasons. And then I had a feeling or a whisper that floated through my thoughts for the first time in my life. Move to New York. Writers move to New York.

The very thought, scared me. My heart raced. And I pushed it to the back of my mind. I had never even visited New York. Had never wanted to. And now, this overwhelming feeling washed over me that I had to move there.IMG_4204

So I did. I listened to the whisper. And I’m here.

And I’m so lonely.

And it’s so hard.

It’s big, sweaty, smelly, vicious, loud, uncomfortable, exhausting, and it makes me afraid.

I have been here going on two years now, and I still don’t feel like I fit here. My clothes aren’t expensive, my school wasn’t fancy, my heart is too sensitive. I feel that most days are me against everyone else. I have never cried more in my whole life combined before I moved here. I cried openly and hard on the street corner recently because the line was so long at Trader Joe’s and I just needed a few things. That day, the City won. Lately, the City wins a lot.

But there is never a time that I don’t pause in complete awe when I’m on the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridge. I look Downtown at the sky scrapers and the Statue of Liberty, and in those moments I can’t believe I live here. And I feel alive. And I remember the romance that is New York. The grocery store lines fade, and the sweat dripping down my back stills, and the smell of bagels baking, and cobble stone streets give me the nutrients to get through another day.

It’s hard to remember the dream in the tough moments, It’s hard to remember my excitement when I boarded the plane with a one way ticket. It’s so hard to go home alone every night. This place has shown me hard work, thick skin, and has broken me down pretty hard. I’m thankful for all of the things it continues to teach me. One day I won’t live here anymore, and I’m sure my heart will ache for it. I can imagine an emptiness after leaving a place like this. Because I will remember the romance and the tumultuous relationship that I had with this City.

Until the day comes, I’m hoping for a few days that the City lets me win.

Kindergarten Artist

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My mother kept school memoir books for each one of us. I remember being so jealous of how thick my older brother and sister’s books were in my elementary years. The book has a couple of pages dedicated for each grade, and a pocket to store report cards, certificates and a few school assignments. There was a space for your yearly school picture as well. Next to your picture you were able to (write in the book!) and answer a few prompted questions and sign your name, at the time it feels exciting to merely write inside of a book. When I look back through this book, you see the metamorphosis of your appearance, your handwriting, and the ever important line to fill in. “When I grow up, I want to be…”

hatchet-gary-paulsenIt just dawned on me, sitting here at my desk, I always wrote that I wanted to be an artist (and then after I got my childhood dog, it changed to a veterinarian for many years, to inevitably make Coco live forever). Remembering this fills me to the brim. I knew at age 5, that being an artist, a creative, was something that I had to do. I remember my first artist’s apron, and can smell the brand new box of oil pastels. My fingertips can still feel the raised wax and the feeling of smudging the vibrant colors across the paper. I cherished my first spiral bound sketch pad like it was my most prized possession. I remember reading books like The Boxcar Children and can still smell the stews that they would make with wild potatoes and onion. Then I read Hatchet and felt the pull of adventure on my heart, and I became obsessed with the outdoors collecting survivor gear for years after.boxcar

I have been influenced and drawn to the arts my entire life. I don’t know why this feels like such a revelation to me this morning. It feels empowering. It makes me grateful to have parents that encouraged my bookwormery and live inside of my imagination while my brother tinkered with motorcycle parts and was completely logical thinker. My sister wanted to play house, and be a mother and chase boys.

Thinking about this makes me feel like maybe I didn’t stray from my heart at all. Most people call me dreamer, a wanderer, but I always have been. I wanted the whole world then, and I still do. I want all of it. I want to hear music, paint watercolors, write poetry, travel alone, and fall in love over and over. Maybe I’m an artist, after all. My inner child approve wholeheartedly with my path. For today, that’s enough for me.