Saying Yes: Reflections on 1 Year in New York

by Jackie D on June 19, 2015

new york city rooftopWhen I first posted here that I would be moving to New York for a new job, I included one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people:

“Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” – the ever fabulous Tina Fey.

I read that quote right before going in to my interview for this job, knowing that if they offered it to me, I would say yes, despite the fact that I had never spent much time in New York, didn’t really know anyone there, had no idea if I’d be able to afford rent, was completely clueless as to how the subways worked,  didn’t even really want to move away from California in the first place, and so on.

I repeated it before moving to New York on Monday, June 16 of last year. I repeated it when I got lost in Grand Central Station on Tuesday, June 17, my first day at the new job. I have repeated it over and over again throughout this year whenever I have felt unsure about something at work; whenever I freaked out that I might be in over my head on a certain project; whenever there has been a delay on my subway commute.

You said yes, I’ve reminded myself, so now you’ve just got to figure it out.

The other day, one of my coworkers came into work looking particularly cheerful, and she told me it was because that morning was the very first time she’d felt completely comfortable in the new car she’d purchased several months ago. It was a manual car, and she’d been having a lot of trouble feeling confident enough to drive it around much, having had no prior experience with manual cars. She was taking driving lessons, but still felt very much on edge while driving the car.

On this particular morning, she’d been forced to move the car to a different spot on the street because there was construction taking place in front of her house. She said that there had been so many people around — police officers, construction workers, neighbors — and she’d been so nervous, feeling so put on the spot, terrified that something embarrassing would happen in front of all of these people when she tried to move the car.

But she didn’t have a choice, she had to move the car, and so she got in and did everything exactly as she’d learned in driving classes. She moved the car without a hitch. She said it was the easiest time she’d ever had maneuvering that car, and she said that this moment had given her the confidence she needed to feel like she could drive it around anywhere.

We agreed that maybe she’d just needed that pressure, to be put on the spot and forced to do what she was taught in her driving classes.

That is exactly what New York has been for me this past year — a push in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, a massive leap of faith, saying yes to something and having absolutely no idea if I’d be able to figure it out afterwards.

And while it’s been terrifying, it’s also been the leap I needed to start on some things I’ve been wanting to accomplish for a while, both big and small. I’ve started to grow my hair back out (and gone blonde!), I’ve stopped biting my nails for the first time in my entire life, I’ve mostly figured out my credit cards, I’ve focused more on the direction I want both my career and my personal life to take — and as of about two weeks ago, I’ve started writing a book.

Even though I still don’t necessarily feel totally at home in New York itself, I do feel very much at home with the place my life is at right now, and New York is one of the primary things that has made this feeling possible. And whether I choose to stay in New York for another year, or another five, or maybe a decade — that feeling alone is enough to convince me that I will always be grateful for saying yes in the first place.

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Snapshots of NYC in the Spring

by Jackie D on June 10, 2015

central park summerSpring in New York will only last for about two more seconds. I’m glad I knew that going in. It took me by surprise my first year in Chicago — to be honest, I don’t even remember if we had an actual spring that year in Chicago, as I recall snow on May 8 and then excruciating heat for a few months after that, with nothing in between.

I do remember the way everyone’s attitudes seemed to change all of a sudden, though — something that lasted from May through June, before the heat began to wear on everyone. It was like everyone had woken up on the right side of the bed, all smiles and frozen yogurt and optimism. Babies and dogs appeared out of nowhere. People held doors open more often, were more patient squeezing in together on the subway, just much kinder to each other all around.

It’s strange to me that with all of that, the first week of Spring in Chicago is also apparently a week that sees a sudden increase in random murders on the street.  I guess maybe that’s why so many apocalypse stories start with a change in the weather?new york city streetsAnyway, I see that same thing here in New York right now — not the murders (if so, that would be a much longer blog post and phone call to the proper authorities, don’t worry), but the kindness. Everyone is soaking up all of the afternoon iced coffees and happy hour patios and Saturday park picnics and evening rooftop bars we can get before the heat sets in.

A woman held the door open for me as we were exiting the subway yesterday and I could hear the music playing from her headphones, something that usually annoys me, surly old man that I am.

This time it was a song I didn’t recognize, but the beat is still stuck in my head, and it sounds kind of like a song that was written just for spring, something that I’ve been humming to myself as I water my plants, open the windows, dust off my mirror and books, set out some sun tea for brewing on the fire escape — perfect two-second spring tasks during these perfect two seconds of spring weather in New York.
springtime nycbrooklyn botanic garden

More Snapshots:
Snapshots of MOMA
Snapshots from Albertine Books on 5th Avenue

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Turning 27: A Tribute to My Twenties

by Jackie D on June 4, 2015

I almost wish I could spend my entire life in my twenties. I say almost because I realize that it is a privilege to grow old — growing old is physical proof that you are healthy and lucky. I also realize that, as a 26 year old, this is somewhat unfair to my 30s and 40s and 50s and beyond, since I have yet to actually experience any of these other decades and don’t really have anything to compare my twenties to except adolescence (and when you’re comparing anything to adolescence, anything always wins).  I just really can’t imagine how it gets better than being in your twenties.

I am young and unattached and able to pick up and move somewhere else if the mood strikes me and my bank account allows it. I can try new things and fail and still have time to try other new things and fail and then still have time to try OTHER new things and fail without anything truly catastrophic happening. I am in good health. Gravity has yet to make anything sag. I can live in an apartment by myself and relish the alone time, imagining the days when I will eventually live in a home with someone else — a boyfriend, a husband, a kid, a cat (all four? Boyfriend and husband? Would probably spend all of my 40s cleaning up that mess)

I think that’s the best part — the imagining. I can still imagine all of the things I have yet to experience, all of the people I have yet to meet, all of the cities I have yet to visit, the jobs I could have, the men I will love, the children I might adopt, the essays and/or books and/or postcards I will write — and all of this is perfectly possible because, well, why not? Who’s to say I can’t achieve everything I want to achieve?

Being in your twenties is like living a Friday afternoon for ten years — the whole weekend ahead of you, and anything is possible.

I’m sure it will be great to be in my thirties (women are supposed to peak sometime in that decade — fine with that), and I’ll hopefully have some sort of steady career established by my forties, and I’ll ideally be rich and relaxed in my fifties, and I will obviously just channel Meryl Streep for all of my sixties and beyond. I hope I am lucky enough to live healthfully through all of these decades, and I hope that looking backward will be just as fun as looking forward.

But for now — I am turning 27 at the end of this week, and I will be eating a doughnut with 27 candles in it to celebrate, and a whole new year is ahead of me, and it feels absolutely fantastic.

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