Last week was my birthday, another reminder of the passing years. Today is the four year anniversary of my graduation from NYU, the end of my "certain" future and the start of a long life staring into the unknown.
My little brother (and only sibling) came to visit me at the beginning of May, the first time he and I have ever spent any time on our own together, despite both being post-undergrad-age at this point. It was remarkable to see how he has grown from the little kid it was impossible to take a picture with into a young man who has traveled to foreign countries and somehow, miraculously, is getting paid to go to grad school. I am so grateful to have spent even a few short days with him, living through adulthood with my second-oldest friend. (Sorry, Sam, Shannon was born before either of us.) He got to see what my day-to-day life is like, and I got to spend some time reliving my childhood as we spent hours on the couch playing video games. Thanks to a friend from college I even got to take him on stage at a Broadway show.
While he was visiting we had dinner with an old childhood friend of ours who lives in New York now, and I was reminded that night of the last time I had met up with him, last fall. At that time another childhood friend was visiting me, one who has now been married five years and had just signed a lease on a space to use as a photography studio for her business. Our friend, though three years younger than us, was moving into a midtown apartment with his girlfriend and working a job in a real estate office. Suddenly, I felt like the little kid at the grown ups table. I didn't have a significant other or a fancy apartment or a stable job or an impressive small business.
What I had to remind myself then, and sometimes still have to now, is that I am a college graduate and I am completely financially independent and have been for four years. That's my status quo, so I take it a little for granted sometimes, but that's a big deal for people of my generation who have been so greatly disadvantaged by the economic recession of our college and early post-college years. I pay all my bills on time, my apartment is clean, I save up money to travel. I remind myself I'm doing just fine.
The problem is I want more. I guess most people think they'll be further along than they are at any given time. And the thing is, if I didn't have this deep desire to create, to make and write and perform theatre, this life I'm living could be totally satisfactory. I like the people I work with, I love the kids I take care of, I like that I still have free time and (a little) extra money to enjoy a few of the things NYC has to offer, even if that's one rush ticket to one show once a month. There is nothing inherently wrong with my life. But this relates to my previous post, The Heartbreak of Dreaming, where I mused about the dangers of caring so much, wanting something bigger and better than the average reality.
A friend of mine who I've called my "big brother" for a decade now, someone I met through the theatre I worked at back home, was in town a few weeks ago and we caught up briefly at his hotel. He asked me if I was happy. I hesitated to think about it. He said, "So you're not happy." I was reluctant to agree. Given all that I have in life I have no right not to be happy, I thought. If you had told high school me that a decade later I would have a huge apartment in Brooklyn, right by the park, that I would have visited a dozen countries by now, that I would be caring for two kids I love as if they were mine, and that I would be possessed by an idea for a play that would continue to not let me go for years, to me that would have been the dream. Now that I'm here and I've seen friends of mine accomplish so much more, I keep dreaming.
I spent my birthday out of the city, on purpose, something I never thought I would do before I moved here. When I started college all I wanted was to spend my birthday in the city. The last eight years is a string of tickets and playbills from shows seen on my birthday, or photos from bars around the Village (RIP, Life Cafe). This year I spent a lazy day upstate in the woods and didn't stress about big plans. I spent the day and saw a show with my best friend, and we met up with just a few people for drinks after. No party, no cake, in fact I made it out of the bar without anyone singing Happy Birthday. I have bigger dreams but also simpler needs at twenty-six than I did at sixteen. There's a trade-off, I guess.
This post has been haunting me for weeks. I didn't know it would be this post, specifically, but I felt I needed to write something else since my weekly rhythm was disturbed by a trip to Florida to visit my grandmother. But I didn't know what to write. I didn't feel anything had changed, or anything new had happened since my last post. I felt stuck. Inspiration comes in waves, rather than a constant rain.
I did some background work on a film a couple weeks ago and tried to write about that, but I wasn't sure what to say. I had fun pretending to live in the 70s for a day, that's all. I've auditioned for a few things, completely blew a fight call and tried not to beat myself up about it. I skipped Faire callbacks and tried not to think about it. Already the pictures of faire friends having fun is getting to me a little, but I know it's time for me to move on and focus on my own projects.
At some point I said twenty-five was the year I stopped doing things I didn't want to do. I think twenty-six is the time to start doing things I want to do. Not sure how I'm going to be a rockstar by twenty-seven, but maybe it's better to wait on that one until twenty-eight anyway.