In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s something I originally wrote in an email to my mother on March 30th, 2010 – two weeks after I moved to New York City.
When I was a little girl, I used to get the biggest kick out of standing on the palm of my dad’s hand and jumping onto a Cookie Monster beanbag. I can’t remember it completely, just bits and pieces from old VHS tapes, but I used to get up as soon as I hit the beanbag, and run back to jump off again. Sometimes I stood with two feet, or just one little foot -but I always went back for more.
As I grew, I wanted to learn to ride a bicycle, so my dad went with me to the top of our gravel driveway, and off I would go. I can’t tell you how many times I fell or the number of band-aids I needed after going arm or knee first into gravel -but I never gave up. Even if it hurt, I jumped up again, and I went back for more.
Then I turned 15, and I could finally get the opportunity to drive. My dad bought a tiny, crappy red car to teach me the ropes on. Those who know me best will admit that even to this day, I’m not the best driver in the world, but when I was learning -I never let fear stand in my way. Even after I flipped my car a month after I got my license and bought my first car with my own savings -I still jumped behind the wheel.
If I look back on my life, from the time I was little to being a teenager and enduring the many disappointments college brings -one thing that has remained constant is my ability to endure. To jump. To move past fear or disappointments or outcome.
I have often taken the first step into an unknown direction and stepped into darkness, even if the light seemed more promising or secure. I’ve opted for the path I wanted instead of the road that was the easiest or the one without any shadows or scary corners.
And even if there was no net to catch me or if I didn’t know what the final solution will be -I still jump. Head first, without hesitation, all-signs-pointing-to-go, and dive.
Moving to New York was no different. If anything, it was the pinnacle of all of that hard work, and all of the risks I took before. It was the jump of all jumps -no bungee cord, no life support, no one that I have known forever to break my fall if I needed it.
Just me and the wings I decided to sprout.
I look around this tiny apartment I see and hear creaking floors, see a very old heater and stove I have yet to figure out how to work (I think you have to use matches, and that just scares me), antique furniture that came with the brownstone, and smell the scent of a truly old building that’s been kept up with. And within the little quarters and even in all of its history – I still see me.
The me that packed her bags, saved her pennies and dimes, said good-bye to the ones she loves the very most, and jumped on a plane. I see every long hour I logged at Books-a-Million, Glidewell’s, Aeropostale, The Appalachian, and every other job that helped me save enough money to move. I see the clothes I strategically picked out to be the most important to have until I’m finally able to send everything else. I see frozen moments in pictures I have all over my room –times of laughter, of growth, of lessons, of graduations, weddings, babies, and everything in between. I see the red dishes from college that have kept with me throughout the years, my first AOII cup, a Starbucks mug from someone I truly loved, a teapot that came with the apartment, and a red microwave that was only $20 on Craigslist.
It’s not that I’ve never seen these things before, but for the first time, I notice them. I value them more than I ever have before. Not only are they part of my history, but they are part of the new history of this apartment. One of many stories that this room has been able to hear and now to tell. Of the many revolving faces and experiences that come and go to New York and back to their hometown or to a new resting place in the city.
And I notice these things because for the first time, it really is just me jumping on my own. No beanbag below me. No dad or mom to rush with a band-aid if I happen to fall down (and I have in my cute Sarah Jessica Parker boots, by the way). No airbag if I back into a fence (which I’ve done) or into a car (which I’ve also done). This apartment is completely funded by me, with my heart and soul, with my savings. Every box or bag of food in my kitchen, I bought. Everything around me is mine, because of my diligence to get here.
I always knew I would grow up, and I thought I did my fair share of growing during college, but the last two weeks (and one day) have taught me miles of lessons that I could have never learned while in school. Worrying about groceries, transportation, rent, if it’s raining or how cold it’s going to be, how to fit everything you need for a full-day into one bag, and how to function in flats when you were born to walk in heels.
And it’s scary. It’s a leap of faith, a jump into the right direction –but it’s my turn. It’s my leap. My jump. And somehow, a sense of empowerment, of fulfillment, of complete independence and confidence in myself and my capabilities comes with this move.
Regardless of what capacity it is in –maybe just trying a new haircut or going out on a date with someone you didn’t see yourself with, or ending a relationship that’s not working, or moving away from home finally –you should jump.
Go for it. Be prepared for the worse, but laugh at fear in its face and know the universe has something else planned for you. If you follow your heart, stick to your guns, and know you can do anything you put your mind to –the jump will free you. Enlighten you. Give you strength and a new sense of self. Even if it’s in the form of seeing your silverware in a new light.
Jump high. Jump for the stars or for the building tops.
You never know where you’ll land.