It's 4:45 a.m. as I begin to type. I'm sitting in my Brooklyn, USA apartment. It's unofficially the coolest city on the planet. It's officially my home, and refuge, for the last 13 years. And I'm feeling quite reflective at the start of a new season.
Autumn, in NYC, is upon us.
As a child and as a young(er) man, I never kept a journal, or diary of any kind. I didn't want to "out" myself as a particularly sensitive type whose sole, and soul, aspiration in life was to write something no one else had, in a voice no one else could, in order to express a vision no one else had seen. Especially since I had no idea where to begin.
Early on, I knew the things that tormented me would pass and be replaced by bigger, more meaningful things. So, I saw no need to document my desire to ask this one little girl to middle school dance after middle school dance, when I was far too scared to actually do so. And at roughly 11 years old, I still wasn't sure why I wanted to.
Later, I didn't want to complain nightly to a composition notebook about my parents, or my status as a social "in-betweener" in high school. I didn't want to breathe any more life into my disdain for undergraduate prerequisite courses. After all, I'm not Felicity. (Though it should be noted, I would've never been exposed to the magic of Sarah McLachlan's Mirrorball album without that show.)
Then, while attending the VCU Ad Center, now Brand Center, there was no time to eat or sleep, much less scribble down musings about my life and its direction.
And then, New York happened.
As far back as I can remember, New York City has been among my top four -- WHERE I'D LIKE TO LIVE WHEN I GROW UP -- locations. That list, in no particular order, was comprised of Cybertron, Gilligan's Island, New York City and the Death-Star. So to make it to the only one that actually exists is quite an achievement.
Maybe that's why I'm feeling so uncharacteristically stream-of-consciousness. So, I'm going with it.
Over four years ago, when I began writing 101 Reasons To Leave New York, it wasn't going to be a book, at all. It was nothing more than a running tally of frustrated, confused, and even hurt arguments I was offering myself to justify packing my things and leaving. But, as the list grew, so did I.
So, I reviewed it. I went deeper into what inspired it. As I did, I recognized each reason I listed to leave New York was also a reason to stay. I realized every trick, treat, political game and social agenda was good, simply because it was being played out in what was now my New York. The New York City that I, and so many other off-brand, knucklehead, funky, smart mouthed, sexy-ass cornballs, had dreamed of. So it was a blessing, and our duty, to revel in it.
Such acknowledgment forced me to examine myself with the same critical eye with which I'd examined New York City. In doing so, I noticed a number of things I'd ascribed to New York were actually the things I was least happy about within myself.
I saw how good I could be, but hadn't become. I saw the work that still needed to be done, but wasn't in progress. I saw missed opportunities and why. I saw that I wasn't taking full advantage of everything available to me.
I saw that it wasn't New York City. It was me.
New York had done its job. It fulfilled its promise, daily. It had offered me the biggest, brightest stage imaginable and an opportunity to become someone, anyone. New York had given me everything I ever asked it for and then some. When I took an honest inventory of my life here, there was fulfilled dream after fulfilled dream. There was a story of perseverance, evolution, and success.
I'd achieved so much. But, something was missing and I didn't know what to do about it. Then, it hit me: Turn the list of reasons to leave into something positive, something capable of providing someone else a little insight, a little comfort, and a lot of laughs. Then, give it a title that requires a double take. And write it so every word is absolutely necessary.
So that's what I did.
Now, 101 Reasons To Leave New York is a multiple award winner for Pop Culture/Non-Fiction Humor. Now, I blog for the Huffington Post. Now, I'm searching for network executives, show runners and producers to get the TV pilot green-lit. Now, I've written something no one else had, in a voice no one else could, to express a vision no one else had seen.
And for the first time in my life, not only am I living my dream, I'm fully aware of it.
New York City. What's not to love?
(As I finish typing, it's about 7:07 a.m. and the sun is coming up over the Gowanus Canal. Good Morning and Good-Bye.)