Follow the [exposed] Brick Road

It’s been one week since I completely uprooted my life and became a New York City transplant. On this day one week ago, hundreds of others did the same. And for what? To follow the exposed brick road of dreams, of course!

While it’s only been a week, it feels like time has elapsed with the simultaneous speed of a camera flash and clock-stopping anxiety attack. It’s a strange constant state of limbo. I have all this time on my hands, being momentarily unemployed. It gives me the time to become acclimated with my new home, meeting up with old and new friends, applying everywhere and anywhere. I’m even writing this in Bryant Park while a pigeon stares at me mercilessly. He could be eyeing my banana bread but I like to pretend I’m more ~important~.  Point is, I have the gift of time. And it blows.

I thrive off of being busy. My mind works at such a rapid pace that when I do find myself with this luxury, I am often more anxious. It’s something I’m working on, okay? But right now, it’s a bitch.

I know I chose the right city. In fact, I’ve never been more sure of a decision.

I write this not to add to the romantic New York narrative because I am waiting, patiently, for this city to screw me over. And it will. No, I write this to show that there is little more fulfilling or beautiful than following your passion.

At the risk of sounding too corny, let me sum it up: do the shit that makes you happy.

If I had a nickel for each time I did something or went somewhere because I felt it was expected of me, I’d have a heavy bag to take to CoinStar and exchange for a crisp bill or two or five. But you know what? I don’t deserve a nickel or two or five. Hell, not even a penny. No one made me do those things.  No one made me move or take a job or stop writing or compare myself to every millennial on social media or or or. The noise is loud and constant, but not in control. 

To make a decision for yourself is difficult. Honestly, it’s so fucking hard to be truly and completely independent-minded- not influenced by family, friends, media markers, celebrity, someone who’s career path you wish to emulate. In fact, it’s pretty impossible because you will always have some bias in the back of your mind. But it’s possible to get pretty darn close- to follow that gut instinct. It’s always possible to try and fail and try again.

I made the decision to move to the city of my dreams with little money, no family up here and no job waiting for me. Obviously not the “smartest” choice but hey, it’s done. Sure, I’m worried about rent when my funds run out and I have no clue where I’ll be living in a month’s time. Sure, I don’t know how I’m gonna celebrate my first birthday without my family or when I’ll hear back from one of the dozens of hiring managers that have my feather light resumé. But I’m happy.

The choice is mine. I don’t have to take a 9-5 job if it makes me miserable. I don’t have to be in a committed relationship if I don’t want to. I don’t have to measure my life and milestones to anyone else’s. I don’t have to. This post-grad journey is a bit of a shit-show but I think we’re finally starting to understand one another- I wear the pants.

And so, if I have to work two day jobs to make ends meet, don’t pity me. If I serve you coffee or help you find a book or shirt you like, don’t pity me. If I’m older than you and in a lower income bracket, working a heinous amount of hours, don’t pity me. While I’m folding that shirt and steaming that milk, I’m creating stories and growing as an artist on every level. My passion and skills evolve with every order and every question. When I go home at the end of the day, I have words to write and so much to be thankful for.

I’m living the dream, baby.

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This is it. This is what it feels like to die. You know how they say your whole life flashes before your eyes? Yeah, well the only thing I’m seeing is my damn beanie baby collection. I mean, give me gritty repressed childhood memories, regrets or picture perfect moments. Something. I just got my arm slashed off by some high level half orc and I’m bleeding out. I’m dying here and no one could give a shit, not even my subconscious.

Okay, so I might not be dying dying but this is called Live-Action Roleplaying. I’m in character. Who knows though, I might actually be dying. My lungs could totally give out. My body is not in peak physical condition- I’ve decided to lay off exercise for the 26 years of my life. Who knew this game required effort, stamina. The amount of rules and configurations is just excessive. The confusion, the yelling, the demands, the fighting, the bewildered look on my roommates’ face- it’s all anxiety inducing.

The three of us wanted to do something as a group to bond or whatever. I jokingly suggested LARPing for a weekend. “All the cool kids are doing it,” I playfully added. My sarcasm deficient roommate said I was “too city” for LARPing and would just end up quitting or leaving right away. Rule Numero Uno for being friends with Shannon: You do not dictate my actions or emotions. I will prove you wrong and rise like a fucking phoenix. Maybe I got a little overzealous but I went out and bought costumes, read all the rules, found a league for the weekend, and got all my shit together. This is legit and I was ready. I have to admit, my inner nerdy world was being rocked. I’d never done anything like it before but I had it all planned out. I figured, I’d outrun the nerds, get an ego-boost, tell Drew to suck it and then go home to stream Grey’s Anatomy or something slightly less embarrassing.

Only now, the reality is that I’m lying dead on the ground, recouping and waiting for the horn to sound. I wish I had a milkshake. And fries. Oh god, the ones from the deli on the corner. Yes. I’m sure if I got up and left no one would even notice. I could leave, eat and come back to play dead. First things first though, do my lungs even work?

As I’m still struggling to catch my breath, return my heart rate to normal and soothe my rage for a milkshake, Drew and Becca make their way towards me. Becca lays a flower from her crown on me and Drew whispers, “This is for you.”

The two then charge the remaining opposition, dominating in every sense of the word. Becca is the most beautifully strategic Elven Queen I’d ever seen and Drew is one bad ass humanoid thing just killing it left and right. The skill, the agility- he does the sports thing back at home.

It pains me to lose. I am dying as we speak, still mentally and physically drained, but something about being here on the ground makes me feel like I’m winning. All the cool kids are fucking doing it. I think I’ll try this thing again. My superbly talented friends are avenging my death and I don’t have to exercise anymore, so that’s a plus. If that’s not living, I don’t know what is.