Monday, June 2, 2008

Life on Life's Terms

I just saw the Sex In the City movie and it reminded me of when I moved to New York. I was one of those girls who moved to New York City in my 20's and didn't know that I went there to fall in love. I was already in love with the City, my life as a groovy college graduate who knew her way around the beer-soaked floors of punk clubs, the locations of the after hours places, and (horrors) Studio 54 even. I had wild and shameless ambition. Film degree in hand, I knew I was as brilliant as my hero Woody Allen, as soulful as my other idol Werner Herzog, and young and gorgeous enough to snare a similarly interesting man. It's 25 years later and life didn't quite pan out that way...and that movie made me wistful for that youth that seemed to last for ever and seemingly disappeared overnight. I would be lying if I said my life was anything like any of those super successful & moneyed gals from SITC. I was a tosspot, scared to death at my low paying secretarial job of my overbearing Portugese boss who was running God knows what kind of racket. After work I raced down to the Irish bar after work on Madison Avenue, drinking & gabbing with the barmen & guys in suits, and occasionally sharing a cab back to Queens with one of the random suits and cavorting around into the wee hours on a work night in some sad attempt at what I thought was intimacy. My sexual adventures weren't all pretty & romantic like the SITC girls: I was usually in a blackout & tweaked out of my gourd when half-hearted attempts at passion began at around 4:00am; and luckily  one or both parties were so out of it nothing happened. Act two started when I slinked out at dawn in my ripped fishnets and shaking hands to find the street sign that told me how much cab fare I was going to have to come up with to get home - was I way uptown or in the village? I can remember one time when I had to take the subways, going home to Queens against the morning rush hour traffic. I hadn't been to sleep yet, I was wearing stiletto pumps, and had lost my hose, my dress was real short and I was sitting  on the N train, feeling the eyes of folks who'd probably just gotten off of their grueling night shift jobs, staring at me like I was a hooker, or some privileged brat who didn't have to work. I remember feeling very ashamed and tried to push my feet under the seat to hide my legs. Almost worse was the half mile walk back to my apt from the train stop, hobbling in my cheap pumps, shaking from too many chemicals in my underweight body, sticking out like a sore thumb in this dowdy Jewish neighborhood I lived in, probably looking very pale & German (I was almost 6 feet tall in my pumps). I couldn't wait to get to my bed in my basement apartment and "recover" from my "night out" which had been about two or 3 nights. This was my life for 1 1/2 years in NY. I had no direction, my jobs were getting worse, I had a crazy banker/mama's boy boyfriend, and I fantasized about going to Ireland or grad school, or back to Austin or anything to get out of a poverty/drinking rut in a residential neighborhood far from the City.

25 years later I have had some amazing adventures. I no longer drink or awaken staring at an unknown ceiling. I look remarkably good for my age. I have travelled a bit & get to do some awesome yoga & painting retreats, with a ski week thrown in for pure challenge. I hate heat & sun & still dream of moving to Ireland, but now I know it is possible...some of my biggest dreams have come true. I have taken some big risks. My life is becoming more unconventional each day. The greatest thing about getting older is you no longer stop yourself from doing the things you really want to do. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing!

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