It's Been A Year
A year ago, I was back here in the city alone. I was staying with our two good friends in their spare bedroom and my husband was still in Vermont, packing and working his job that was paying our bills as I continued to collect unemployment for the six month. I was going on interviews and having multiple panic attacks when apartment after apartment fell through. We were going to move back and it was crunch time and I was in charge of the New York end. It was a lot.And I never felt more alive.Okay, that's exaggerating. I have definitely felt more alive than job hunting and interviewing and begging landlords to let us live in their buildings. But I was finding myself in little corners of the city: in happy hour dates and long walks in the park. I was seeing myself in theater seats and a sweating iced coffee cup in one hand while I managed to take out and swipe my MetroCard without spilling a drop. In doing my lipstick on the subway and reconnecting with the people who knew me best. Late nights staying up snuggling on a couch with my people watching Skin Wars (guys, we never finished that) and always having a brunch date on Sundays. In the tall buildings, the smell of hot trash, the possibilities of something around every corner. I was home.I know these things make it seem like I really only needed to get out of my house and be social. I know it may seem that I like to be in the city spending money on dinners and fun events. Is this accurate? Yes, I do like having things to do and a variety of things at that. Did I find those things in Vermont? Yes and no. While there is a plethora of things to do in Vermont, most of it is the same events year after year and a lot of it is outdoors. I once fancied myself outdoorsy. I haven't a clue why. I definitely am not. I love nature and animals and trees and flowers and all that. I have finally accepted I like them more in a botanical garden or on top of a mountain that has some very easy stairs or perhaps a road up. I am not a good camper, hiker, or skier. I like being in a boat on the water and swimming in lakes but I prefer to go to sleep in a bed later that night and not the forest floor. I tried, folks, I really tried. A leopard can't change its never liked skiing in spite of being from Vermont spots.I have to make something clear before continuing: I met some really wonderful people in our time in Vermont. A special shoutout to the comedy community and an additional special shout for the women of the comedy community. This community I found myself in was warm and welcoming and supportive. I had a blast weekly on stage and always had a spot at the bar to go and find people to talk to. I got better at improv. Alongside that world, I had my two best friends and many high school friends I reconnected with. The people were there and I had friends and they are not a reflection of my time living there.Here is what I didn't do in spite of having these friends: I never asked for help. I never told anyone how dark it was getting. I avoided socializing. I hardly ever saw my husband due to our opposite schedules and I let my alone time eat away at me. I sank very far down into a depression and my anxiety took the wheel. I never once told any of my friends about it. I did not open up and I started playing a part instead of being myself. Once I got far into the role, I couldn't stop. How I was performing was how they knew me. I couldn't be myself, could I? I was quiet, happy, pleasant. I couldn't show I was actually snarky, angry, witty, and lonely. I gave permission to the shadows to let me disappear.No one got to me know me well enough to see when something was bothering me. I forgot how valuable that is. My mother can do it in a millisecond, even over the phone. She can hear it in my voice and just knows. My friends here in the city have this skill. They know when I am hiding something, lying, sad, not feeling it. Sometimes they just give me a look and I know I am seen and we don't even say anything. Other times, they pull me aside and ask what is wrong when they can't see all the details just on my face. My husband knows it, of course, and now that I actually see him, he isn't ambushed by it when he walks through the door. I never gave any new Vermont friends that opportunity because I shut it all out. I ignored it and pretended I was someone else, living another life, this new me that I didn't even like. I am sorry for that. I am sorry you all only got pieces, mere glimpses of the real me.I am not hiding anything anymore. I am not drowning as much as I was and I jumped back into my body so to speak. A year ago, I was like Simba coming back to Pride Rock and being like "Oh, yeah, I'm a fucking king." I can run around in the jungle and pretend I am not this powerful kickass lion prince but after a while, I realize that's not me. I have a responsibility to be myself and become who I am meant to be, who I want to be. Okay, as mentioned above, I clearly wasn't running around in any sort of jungle because I am not sleeping on that ground and eating bugs. You get it, though, I'm sure.A year ago, I realized that I am a city mouse. All the things that come with living in a city tied up with a pretty ribbon is the best gift I could have treated myself to. It was strange and someone please tell me if this has happened to them but once I secured a job and started it and found an apartment, it was like all of Vermont disappeared. We moved our stuff in and then life just restarted where it had left off. I never felt like I had left and three years sort of vanished. In fact, last night when a couple who lives in our building got off the bus with us asked where we were living before and I said "Harlem." I am not ashamed of my time in Vermont but as Arya Stark says "That's not me." Because of that and pretending I was someone I wasn't, doesn't feel like I lived it.I am grateful for that lesson. This past Saturday night, sitting by the water at a bar eating disco fries and staring at the skyline, my husband asked me if I could tell myself what happened in Vermont before we left New York, would I. Would I make the same choice. Honestly? No, I don't think I would. HOWEVER, was it necessary to go through to realize where I belong and what I need? A big fat yes. That was one of the reasons we left the city. We wanted to take a time out and evaluated what we were doing and how we wanted to live this life together. I did not expect to go through what I did, what we did. But it accomplished what we set out to do: we found out what we needed to be happy and where we needed to be.In conclusion, it has been a year but it doesn't feel like it. It feels like a continuation of the ten years before that. It feels like I never went away and maybe that is the definition of home. It isn't a house or a backyard or an apartment. It is the place you can leave and come back to and it feels like you were always there. It is filled with wine soaked Saturdays in the park with a book (as outdoorsy as I get) and rain soaked Sunday nights playing board games and laughing till my stomach hurts.By this time next year, I will have taken three trips including a big one to Disney World after a long absence to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary. I will have paid off all my credit card debt. We own our car now. I will have a second draft of a novel written and a brand new website filled with writing, acting, poetry, and fairy tales (keep your eyes peeled). I will be auditioning again. I make a salary that is based on my experience and I can live of off comfortably. I see my closest friends every week. I've reconnected and continue to reconnect with people I admire and love and enjoy spending time with. I have started to love how I look and I actually enjoy picking out outfits again. I'm learning new tricks and skills on my own.Basically, I am thriving.It isn't all perfect; nothing ever is. It is home though. It is my Pride Rock and I have returned to be a queen as I was always meant to be. A city mouse: that's me. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and has written, texted, or spoken to me in person about it. I am unable to convey how much that means to me. Just know every time I get your messages, I have to hold back tears because I am not alone and my dream of my writing being relatable, helpful, and inspiring has come true. So, thank you. You've made my dreams come true. Because of you all, I am growing this little thing and taking it to the next step. This started when I need an outlet when I moved to Vermont and I began sharing my journey in a small town. Now it's back to the big pond and I'm glad you are all along for the ride. Love you 3000.