Once upon a time . . . I loved fairy tales, but over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to despise them. While fairy tales are meant to be inspiring and uplifting, they’ve left me jaded because I spent so much of my youth and young adult life believing they were real. I was slightly naïve, but I chose to begin this entry with the classic fairy tale line because the story I’m about to tell begins with the girl who believed in those stories. However, this story is much more Grimm or Tim Burton than Disney.
Once upon a time . . . there was a young girl who fell madly in love with two cities. She believed these two cities to be the grandest in the land. One was located on the east coast; the other, on the west. The girl spent many sleepless nights fantasizing about someday living in one of these cities. As she got older, these dreams never dissipated. In fact, they grew stronger. The girl meticulously planned her life around these hopes and dreams. She believed that if she played her cards right, someday she might have the opportunity to fulfill her dream and reside in one of these two cities.
The girl’s road was long and bumpy. It was no “Yellow Brick Road.” She made many wrong turns along her journey and spent years derailed from her dreams. Luckily, Fate stepped in and placed her back on the path toward the destiny that she’d always hoped for. However, being the indecisive millennial that she is, when life gave her the chance to finally live in one of these cities, she was unable to choose between them because she’d spent her life madly in love with both.
The girl didn’t take their decision lightly. She spent over a year planning, saving, mentally preparing, and debating the pros and cons of each city. She did research and asked for advice from fellow travelers. When asked where the girl was planning on relocating after grad school, she’d explain her love triangle with the two cities and listen to opinions and advice were given. Every time, she got a similar response: “Oh, honey. You’re a New Yorker.”
What did this mean? The girl’s mind jumped to the stereotypical ideas of what a New Yorker is. She concluded that these people were politely saying, “Honey, you’re a cold, hard bitch. You’d fit in perfectly in New York.” Once, when given the response, “You’re a New Yorker,” she asked the person to elaborate. Their response: “You know . . . you’ve got that whole Breakfast at Tiffany’s thing going on.”
The girl was flattered because she’d spent her life idolizing Holly Golightly. However, the more the girl considered the comparisons between herself and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she questioned whether this was a polite way of saying she was a classy prostitute. Of course, the girl took these opinions to heart. She knew deep down that she was indeed more of a “New Yorker,” but still, she couldn’t let go of her other love, Los Angeles.
The girl also looked at other cities. She had a love of politics, so she considered Washington, D.C. She looked at another historically famous cultural hot spot, San Francisco. And of course, the girl took a little peek at Seattle, the capital of her favorite kind of rock music. While all of these cities and the many others they considered were filled with artistic offerings and career opportunities for both, none compared to The Big Two.
As time and the debates of the two cities carried on, the girl realized that if she didn’t make a decision, this opportunity to experience either of the cities might pass her by. One night, she sat down and decided she couldn’t leave that spot until she reached a decision. It wasn’t easy. Her mind regurgitated past debates. She wrote down what she loved about each city and what she feared about each city. Naturally, her greatest fear about both cities was the price (for the girl didn’t from royalty). She knew she’d struggle to survive in either city, but she also knew, no matter where she went, New York, L.A., or any other major city in the world, that she’d struggle. Why not struggle in a city she was in love with?
By the end of the night the girl was still torn, but forced herself to follow her gut choice . Shee felt one city had more career opportunities. She picked the city she was most in love with. She picked New York City. The city her heart belonged to.
* * *
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, this story is about me. This is my fairy tale. Of course, I have zero expectations for my experiences in New York to be anything similar to an actual fairy tale. But for me, in certain Burton-ish ways, this opportunity has its fairy tale aspects.
For me, a childhood dream is coming true. I’m getting the opportunity to live in a city I’ve spent my life fantasizing about. Some people fantasize about having their own home, big families, becoming wealthy, etc. I’ve always dreamed of living in a small, hole-in-the-wall, New York apartment. I wanted to test my drive and determination. I’ve dreamed of the challenge of seeing if I’m strong enough to survive in the most cutthroat city in the world. Sure, it’s a bit of a sadistic fantasy, but it’s what I’ve always wanted. I need to see if I have what it takes to survive. And New York is all about survival of the fittest.
I realize the odds of “making it” in New York are not in my favor. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may fail and come crawling home with my head low and my tail between my legs. This thought terrifies me to no end. However, I also know that I’ve worked hard for this chance and if I pass on it now because I’m scared, I will personally regret it for the rest of my life. While failure terrifies me, it’s something I can survive. I’ve failed and survived many times. It’s not fun, but it’s made me stronger. But not trying and living with the regret that I let my fears defeat me, I don’t know if I could survive that. I’m certain that regret would eat me alive.
I have no idea what’s in store for me in New York. I’m going with little expectation other than being prepared to bust my ass and survive off of Ramen Noodles. I’m okay with that. I don’t know if New York holds my“Happily Ever After” or if New York will merely be a chapter in the novel of my life; only time will tell.
Despite my fears, I’m also incredibly excited for this next adventure. I’m proud of myself for working so hard to make this opportunity possible. And it is an opportunity. That’s why so many people, dreamers especially, flock to New York because it’s filled with opportunities. When thinking about our decision to take on New York, I often reflect back to an Elizabeth Gilbert quote:
There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint-please, please, please . . . give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, “My son-please, please, please . . . buy a ticket.
Moving to New York is me buying our lottery ticket. Will I win? Absolutely. I say this because regardless of whether or not I “make it” in New York, as a writer, this experience, this struggle I’m about to endure, will fill me with enough stories for a lifetime. And I intend on sharing my experiences. I’m not only doing this for myself, who, as a writer, can always use the practice, but also for all of those other dreamers out there who ever wondered what it might be like. That’s who I’ll be writing for.
So, as of May 16, 2014, I will no longer be a resident of the beautiful southern city of Savannah. I’ll miss this city because it was the city where I found myself. My time in Savannah has groomed me and made me brave and strong enough to take on New York.
I’m also grateful that I get to spend two weeks back home in Kentucky, visiting family and friends, and honoring my roots before I venture out to the “concrete jungle” on June 1st. I need that time back home. I need to be surrounded by my family and friends, who support my decision and believe in me. Their love and support is what fuels me with enough bravery to conquer my fears and hesitations and to continue chasing my dreams.
* * *
Once upon a time . . . a girl was taking a road trip. The girl was a bit nerdy. She really enjoyed listening to audiobooks on road trips. On this particular road trip, she chose to listen to an autobiography of one of her favorite musicians, Keith Richards. As she was listening, she heard a great quote. It was one of those quotes that hit you like a crashing wave and knocks you flat on your ass. It was one of those quotes that she knew was going to stay with her for the rest of her life and become a personal mantra. The quote perfectly summed up the girl’s mentality about the world and living life as a dreamer.
“If you don’t make bold moves, you don’t get fuckin’ anywhere.”
– Keith Richards
That day, when the girl first heard the quote, was over a year and a half ago. Her destination was New York City. Today, the girl is raising her glass and toasting to “bold moves.”