Coming Home and Going In
Bare with me on this one. The thoughts are probably disjointed and transitional material between ideas isn’t my forte.
So I’ve recently been going through some shit.
My relationship of just about 2 years ended the day after Christmas which sent me into a still ongoing trip of self-evaluation. And yes, it’s as much fun as it sounds.
For those that don’t know me, these trips of self-evaluation usually aren’t the best thing in world as I am, by far, my own worst critic and enemy. But in these trips I’ve admitted to myself that I am a.) Lonely and b.) Nowhere near satisfied with where my career is.
So what better time to have a ten-year high school reunion!
This Saturday (May 20th for those playing along) I’ll be heading back to Baltimore to attend an unofficial reunion with the people I shared algebra classrooms, .75 Twinkies in the lunchroom, and bus routes with, that is until I was able to drive to school. I had been looking forward to this event for quite some time, and I still am, but I’m definitely in a very different mindset than I was, say, five years ago when I was halfway between high school graduate and ten-year high school alum. Five years ago also happens to be when I made the move from Baltimore to New York.
I often played in my head what it would be like to go back home for a reunion ten years out of high school, six years out of college, and waist deep in a career. I had imaginary conversations with real friends and former classmates about what projects I’m working on and whose elbow’s I rubbed just last week. I had a clear vision of where I wanted to be in my career ten years out of high school.
The reality: I’m no where near where I wanted to be.
I’m not successful.
Now success is a relative term and without getting too meta here, I believe success is defined by the action not the individual. And envy is death. Holding myself up to someone else, be it in the same field as me or not is one of the worst things to do, but also one of the easiest. In the five years I’ve been in New York, I’ve been in six plays, five of which were unpaid. So maybe those are six successes with a bonus. I’ve had two of my one-acts publicly read. Maybe those are successes too. After five years, I finally got a credit on a prime time TV show. Possibly another success.
If New York has taught me anything, it’s that the good, as opposed to the bad, doesn’t happen overnight. And I’m in a career of numbers, opportunity, patience, perseverance, and coincidence (as some would argue against me).
I’ve heard people say that a reunion forces you to reflect on where you are and what roads you’ve taken to get there. Well, I can safely say I’ve taken a lot of roads. Some have been paved, some cobblestone, some just thrown together with pieces of just about everything and each ride was different on every road. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum from sitting pretty in the black to one judge’s ruling away from being evicted. I’ve freelanced from time-to-time and held as many as four jobs at once.
The long and short of this is life happens. It happens everyday and in many different ways. You get distracted, you veer off, you jerk the wheel to the right when the road is straight and narrow and then you readjust. I’ve certainly done that plenty of times in the five years I’ve been here. Sometimes you have to go through what you thought you would like to do to find out what you truly love to do.
And I know that none of my classmates were expecting grand, elegant stories of this project or that schmoozer. None of them are holding to me that I’ve yet to have my name in lights or at the top, or near the top, of some billing. Not a single person cares that I’m still a no-name. They are thrilled that I’m still in New York, pounding the pavement everyday, chasing after my white rabbit. The ones that I still talk to and the ones that occasionally reach out couldn’t be more supportive as I sling beer for a living while I fill my head with plays, playwrights, and movies.
And I am still able to wake up every morning in this wild concrete jungle of a city, have breakfast, take the subway, log on an submit for projects, and still afford to live day-to-day. I’m still here and I’m still doing it everyday of every week of every month…well you get it.
So when I go into that reunion this weekend I won’t be telling the stories I thought I’d be telling because I’m not the success that I thought I’d be by now.
But I’m something more important than that: I’m fortunate.