Writer in Brooklyn
I want to talk about one night in Costa Rica. On this night I felt something change inside of me. The entire trip was incredible, and both instructors were gifted, and each and every woman that was on the trip touched my heart in some way. But one night, my heart healed, and I felt it happening…and I didn’t fight it, I let it heal.
Nosara, Costa Rica is this tiny little yoga/surf town that is so quaint you may miss it if you blink, even if you are on foot. Fruit stands selling watermelons and coconuts are freckled upon a bumpy dirt road and the sandy beach is nearly empty but the waves are dotted with surfers. Dread locks, man-buns, and beautiful tanned bikini clad surfers are too cool as they walk toward the beach with their boards under arm. The constant waves make this one of the best surf breaks in the world, and one of the best places to learn on. (I took two lessons and was able to get up the entire second day! So can I say I am a surfer now?)
On the second to last night of our five-day retreat we walked quietly through the jungle to the Nosara Yoga Institute to practice yoga in “the tree house.” This was an open-air two story wooden cathedralesque building perched on the top of a hill. The jungle stood thick around us, and the treetops were eye level we were so high in the sky. The sounds of monkeys and exotic birds were so loud that it almost seemed like someone was playing a secret record that spun at the cadence of an intermittent speed of a windshield wiper. Peace and quiet, to the instant and intense deep throaty chant of a howler monkey.
When I think about this night, I think about it as if it took place in a vat of honey or tree sap. It seemed that time slowed down and the entire world had a golden glow.
I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the location, and my body was sore from the constant yoga and surf lessons. Fourteen of us sat up on our mats cross-legged and faced our instructor, Emily as she began class telling us a story out of Paulo Coelho’s book, “Adultery.”
Emily is one of those people that make you feel like the sun shines on you when she is in front of you, wether she’s teaching, or having a conversation with her. She has a gift for teaching yoga, and for giving love like no one I have ever met.
It felt like we were in Emily’s church being perched up here on this hilltop. This was where she completed her yoga teacher training, and it was as if the Earth was showing off to honor her. The sunlight beamed through the trees and cast a dusty light that looked like an Instagram filter. The scene was perfection, and then she began to talk. Her words. Her inflection. Her timing. I don’t know what it was, but the story hit me so hard in the heart that I had a physical heart palpation. My chest fluttered as if my heart was trying to knock and get my attention. As if it was saying, “This is it. This is why you came here. Now listen up.”
I will paraphrase the story as best as I remember and it goes something like this, without Emily’s delivery it won’t sound remotely as powerful, so please look up this book yourself if you want to really read this anecdote.
A woman is hang gliding after committing adultery. While in the air she has a telepathic conversation with an eagle.
She said, “I want to stay up here forever.”
The eagle replied calmly, “But, you can’t.”
And the woman said, “How will I ever face what I have to face when I get back down there?”
And the eagle replied, “You’ll find a way.”
I realized in the moment that it was almost time to head back to New York, to face my normal life again, and I felt panic/fear/pain/sadness/loneliness all in one inhale. But the story she just told us. The story spoke to my heart, “You’ll find a way.”
The tears rolled hot and slow down my cheeks and I kept repeating to myself, “You’ll find a way.” I knew I would find a way to get through all of the hard times when I landed in New York again. Every woman here was facing so many of the same struggles that I was. I was not alone. Something else fluttered in my throat and chest and it said, “You are enough.”
As you are. Right now. For everyone. You. Are. Enough.
Between the two mantras that sang in perfect harmony, I listened. I listened! I even believed it.
We flowed through vinyasas and squeezed through eagle pose, and swayed through goddess pose and I cried the whole time. Tears fell onto my mat with a pat pat pat pat. And I let them. I let them fall because I was enough even while being vulnerable. I was enough showing my emotions, and my weakness, and my soreness. This class is seared into my memory forever. This classs is sticky in my heart, it tastes like fresh fruit, and smells like wildflowers. As we ended the class in a circle I could feel the energy and the love and the healing sealing the class, and the week, and the trip.
Afterwards we walked in a single file line on the skinny trail and the tears flowed from me the whole way to dinner. I felt my heart open that night. My heart had been closed and hidden behind a vault for so many years. I felt a peace about my last breakup, and I felt a hope that I would love again-that I deserved to love again.
That night a fellow retreater shared her heart-breaking story of a breakup that was very similar to mine. I felt empathy, I felt her deep sadness, but I didn’t feel like sharing my story. I realized then while I listened that mine is just that; a story. It doesn’t give me pain, or sadness, it is just my story. I know that I am so lucky/blessed/thestarsaligned for me to go to Costa Rica, and it is going to be a treasure in my life forever. I just had to share this light that is beaming from my heart. I feel renewed after this vacation. I am writing again. My heart is open.
We will all find a way. And we are all enough.
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.
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.
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.