It was a rainy Saturday night. I was in my favorite red dress and shredded denim jacket, which after 13 years has become somewhat of a staple of my existence. I sipped a cold can of Brooklyn Lager and scarfed down fried chicken with two of my best gals. We were beyond overdressed for this local chicken hut at nearly midnight, but we didn’t care, it was good.
Our laughter overpowered all of the other chatter happening throughout the restaurant. And we weren’t even drunk. We were simply high on each other’s company. We chatted and gossiped. They traded theories on various Game of Thrones storylines, while I tried to keep up, occasionally reminding them that I’d once seen an episode.
This wasn’t even our last destination of the evening, after scarfing down our fried chicken and basket of French fries, whose scent had drawn us in from off the street like hounds; we still had every intention of dancing our asses off. And we did. There was no rhyme or reason for the evening. We just wanted to dance, that was our only goal. So we allowed the rest of the evening unfold as it pleased.
It was over this mouthwatering meal that we talked about the upcoming week and the many milestones approaching. One friend has a birthday. Another is approaching her one year Anniversary with New York. A very special moment in every New York transplants life. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, a confirmation that you actually did it. You came and you’re conquering.
Then, of course, I have my own milestones approaching: I was approaching two years in New York and one year of being singular.
It was during this discussion that one of my friends said, “Gosh, you’ve really done a 180 in a year. Your life is completely different.” It is.
At times, my life feels like one never-ending adventure. One Saturday night in New York I may want to dance my ass off, another I may want to picnic in Central Park. I’m becoming a true aficionado of dive bars throughout the city, the more hole-in-the-wall-like the better. I don’t need fancy, but that’s not to say I don’t occasionally enjoy fancy. Just a couple of weeks ago I was circling around the city on a yacht after an evening cocktail party. This week I sat at Lincoln Center watching the New York Philharmonic spend a night celebrating my favorite film composer. And these are normal weeknights.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take my adventures for granted. I’ve worked hard to reach them. I still look at every day in New York as a fresh opportunity. Each day I feel more Alive because of the potential.
The Different Personalities of New York
It’s the mentality of New York that I find so attractive. New York has a personality disorder, that’s what keeps it so exciting. Every day you experience the high of highs and low of lows. New York is good and bad, ferociously ugly and breathtakingly beautiful, bitter and sweet. New York is Ying and Yang. It needs to be, as we all need to be.
We all have two sides to us: the happy and sad, the lover and the hater, the past version of ourselves and the present. Part of me will always be a Kentucky girl, the other part will be a New Yorker. I need both. I’m thankful for both.
Appreciating Your Roots
I have come to appreciate my southern heritage more since living in New York. I may as well be a Brand Ambassador for Bourbon. I’ll happily drop whatever I’m doing, at any time, to school someone on Kentucky’s finest qualities whether it be our limestone gold, our beautiful horses or the legacy of UK.
That’s not to say I’m running for the hills, ready to come home. I’m not. I am home. However, I’ve come to appreciate the place that holds my roots. I’m proud to be a Kentucky girl living in New York.
And as my friend mentioned, it’s astonishing how much my life has changed in the past year, even more so in the past four. I barely recognize myself. Yet somehow I managed to become the girl I so desperately wanted to be four years ago.
Toasting to the Present
I share a New York City apartment with my two dogs. I have a career that allows me to support myself, and it’s kind of a bad ass job. My life revolves around sports, movies, television, and gaming and I get to travel to places like Los Angeles, Malta, Tenerife and this year Bali. How many people get to say they truly love their job?
I still write every day. I’ve found my people in this sea of misfits and they’re good people, special people. My most frequent form of exercise is laughter. I wake up every morning and feel happiness. It happened! I’m her. I became that girl.
Things aren’t exactly as I imagined. My roads have had twists and turns, and thank God for it. Nothing was easy, but I’ve just kept plowing ahead. I’m thankful for every step and misstep took. It’s Life, Fate, the Magic of the Universe. It’s what brought me to where I am.
Don’t Take Life For Granted
My degree in Life has reminded me time and time again that nothing can be taken for granted, not even for a second. Each second should be lived and experienced at the height of its possibility. That’s one of the many things I love about New York, it never allows you to forget how quickly life passes. The speeding subways; the fast footpace; the flashing ads; everything about New York is fast, and if it isn’t, it stands out like a sore thumb.
This way of life; this pace; the limited time to think; the immediate demand for action; helps you to focus on the important things and push aside the petty. To survive in New York you’re required to live in the moment. You don’t have time to pretend to be somebody else. To survive in New York you have to be brave enough to be yourself.
It’s amazing to think how much I’ve adapted as a human over just a few years, which only feels like a matter of minutes. I’m stronger, more confident, better educated, further accomplished, braver, wilder, louder and happier than I was even just a mere 366 days ago. I live the life I used to fantasize about. I‘ve arrived, but I’m far from settling.
I still feel a ferocious hunger to accomplish everything I ever set forth to do. I want to be a published author. My desire to write for Rolling Stone is still there. I want to work for award shows and film festivals, and maybe someday run one. Maybe I’ll do that for a few years then write screenplays and win my own awards. I want to own and have read every book in a private library. Most importantly, I want to see the world. I want to know Paris, London, Italy, and all of the other places I’ve only daydreamt about intimately.
You Can Go Home Again
After two years, my ambition has in no way faltered, it’s been busy accomplishing, doing and experiencing. Naturally, I have room for improvement. On my journey to becoming my own person, I somewhat detached myself from some of the people who’ve known me best. Not because I don’t want them in my life or because I feel we’re too different, but because they know me so well and I needed time to figure out who I am without my roots.
But you can never fully escape your roots. In fact, it was just the Saturday before last that I was reminded of my own roots amid the concrete jungle. I was sitting in an Off-Broadway theatre about to watch a play titled, “Kentucky.” The story followed a late 20s career girl who fled her Kentucky roots for The Big Apple and then had to return home for a wedding, forcing her to confront her many demons.
Needless to say, I shifted in my seat a few times. I had stepped off of a busy New York street and was transported to a Kentucky living room. It felt safe and warm, the way your childhood home always does.
The setting was so accurate, too. At one point, characters were chanting: “C-A-T-S, CATS, CATS, CATS!” It felt like the ultimate collision of my two worlds. But that’s what it’s all about, even the moral of the play, learning to balance the person you used to be with the person you’re becoming.
“I’m Still Alive”
It’s hard not to reflect on how dramatically different things have become and how quickly Life can shift. The fast pace of New York mirrors the pace of our lives. In New York, you can’t take too much time to stop and think because those subway doors won’t wait for you; they’ll close in your face. Besides, you don’t want to take too much time because you’re too enamored with the possibility ahead of you.
I like this way of life. It works for me. New York and its ever revolving moods keep me on my toes. It keeps Life exciting, it helps me to feel Alive.
Speaking of “Alive” it was only a few weeks ago that I got to see Pearl Jam, my favorite band, for the first time live. I fell in love with Pearl Jam in college. A boy in my History of Rock-n-roll class turned me on to them. The boy’s name has since been forgotten, but he gave me my favorite band and for that, I’m always grateful.
I tried to get tickets to see Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden the moment they went on sale. There were 3 screens pulled up on my computer, they were playing two nights . . . the tickets were gone in minutes and I didn’t have any.
This was meant to be a birthday present to myself to celebrate the last year of my 20s. Next thing I know the tickets are going on the internet for double, even triple their price.
I protested from buying them because I thought that’s what Eddie Vedder would want me to do. He is, after all, the musician who battled Ticketmaster for the good of his fans. I thought giving in and buying these outrageously priced tickets was going against everything he stood for.
I waited until the last minute to get the tickets; seriously, the concert started at 8 PM, I didn’t click ‘Purchase’ until 7:20 PM. I paid a disgusting amount to see my favorite band.
Eddie Vedder would be disappointed.
I rushed to The Garden battling slow subways and crowded streets. It felt like everything in the Universe was working against me, like I was not meant to see my favorite band. But I kept going.
Everything leading up to the concert had been a struggle, from the second the tickets went on sale. But I didn’t quit trying.
The Best Things in Life Are Worth the Struggle
. . . Oh, how it was worth it. I skipped into The Garden and sat down in my nosebleed, triple priced seat, sipping my $14 beer and then I spent the night rocking out to my favorite band and the songs that have helped shape my life. It was perfect. It might be the favorite night of my life.
The experience reminded me that Life isn’t easy and it’s important to remember that the best things in Life come with a struggle. If you don’t know the bad how will you ever truly appreciate the good? It’s all about balance: the good and bad; the past and present; the ying and yang.
I’m glad that two years in, I’m still documenting my New York Adventures, my Ramen Holiday. I’m thankful for every adventure I’ve had and everyone ahead of me. Most of all, I’m thankful I have truly learned the value of a New York minute.