The Big Move to the Big Apple
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Alright everyone, it has once again, been forever since my last blog post. I can claim all I want that I'll be back soon but I'm not even going to go there this time.
Since my last update, I have moved. This past spring I made the decision that I was going to pursue my dream at a more challenging level feeling stale and stuck in my art form as well as my progression of life still being in MD. After a lot of weighing options and feeling burnt out for much too long, I decided I wanted to be more challenged. Throughout audition season in NYC, I would find a new class to take, whether it be a new yoga class, jazz class, or just ballet somewhere new. I can't quite capture now how to explain how that felt, but every time I did something new, I felt this unquestionable pull and drive like I wasn't feeling back home. I know for sure part of it was stepping away from ballet for a bit and some of it was a shift in heart for me but I denied what I knew I needed to be doing for a long time. I tried to deny that pull for a long time and suddenly I just couldn't anymore. I wanted more.
I met with a dear friend and someone I admire to talk about how I had been feeling. I told her I missed singing, I missed other genres - to which she was like.... "wait, you aren't happy? Ok, bye! Had I known this was how you were feeling, I would've told you to leave sooner. I thought you were happy, fulfilled and getting what you needed here in MD. So I say this with love, but get out. Bye!" And it was the without hesitation encouragement from someone in my own field that made it feel like the right choice. Like it wasn't totally reckless. (It is, by the way, but so worth it.) We talked about the transition and she had total faith in my success that would come in NYC.
Leaving BMD was not easy, I was leaving a company I invested my time, energy, passion and teaching in. I wasn't just leaving a small company, I was leaving people I love and respect. This was a company I was passionate in helping grow from getting involved with building our social media presence to leading teaching artist residencies, getting involved in schools and performing. It was a personal mission to give back to the community but also help the arts grow in the DC area. I was invested in my colleagues. And by making this decision, I was leaving home and a reputation and foundation I had built not just over the previous five years post college but the reputation I had begun long before growing up there and being someone who was always teaching and dancing.
Now once the decision was made, there was a lot of people hurt, a lot of people who were thrilled and others who had plenty of judgement - none of which deterred me. Once I said the words, I'm moving to NYC, I have to admit, I was thrilled. I could reinvent, rediscover, and explore new passions, new styles of dance, essentially create a new chapter all on my own.
I knew this was not going to be that easy but I was actually excited and very nervous. After all, I did promise myself, I would never move to the city without a job... and what did I just decide to do? Move to the city without a job. *face palm*
Fast forward through a really amazing summer filled with work, teaching, paddling, family and friends. August hits, I have a place lined up thanks to my cousin's girlfriend but still no job and no plans really. This is when it really starts to sink in that I'll be leaving in mere weeks. I'm scheduling last visits and dinners with family and friends. The goodbyes and "see you laters" begin. The packing and purging begins. It is kind of a wild period of time.
Let's talk about the purge process.
Woo was that both incredibly satisfying and overwhelming. I started it in bits, drawers first, then closet, then leftovers at my parents and back through it all again a second time as I packed. In total, I was able to gather about three or four bags of clothes I'd like to sell, four or five bags of clothes to donate, and threw away about five bags of stuff (clothing, "Junk" , cards, old paperwork etc).
Somehow at the end of it, I still had so much it didn't look like I had accomplished much. I genuinely didn't even realize how much I had accumulated and how impressive my nesting abilities were. How I got as much as I did in my room in Riverdale was impressive. In fact, AFTER all that was done and gone, my roommate Greg was still impressed by the amount that left my room and got packed in the cars. That's saying something both on my ability to fill space and hold on to things but also my ability to give everything a place and home so that it fits and doesn't look like a pig stye. I felt good about how much I had purged... until I began packing and still had no idea how I was going to fit everything.
Needless to say, long story short, I did manage to fit almost everything in Dad's car... ok DAD fit most of it. A bed, a dresser, a head board, a tv, lighting fixtures, clothes, shoes, a door mirror, and other "stuff". Unfortunately not everything made it, but good thing because I needed some space to see what would fit. My bed would hold most of my stuff but I needed to see how much space I'd have beyond that. My two boxes of winter clothes and my speakers were stored at my parents and the car was stuffed. So that's how that all played out, I even did two posts on my IGTV one near the beginning and one at the end once I had unpacked.
Unpacking and getting settled was a whole different ball game...
Lucky to have to baby brother agree to drive up with me, sibling road trip up to NYC was fun. I drove knowing he'd be driving himself back when he left. We sang, ate, and caught up. It was the first time in a long time Jess and I had time to catch up without distraction, time table etc. It was awesome. We talked about where we were at, what we wanted to do with ourselves, we talked about friends and family. It was honestly special. I can actually picturing him making a face, shaking his head telling me "Alright cool it with the emotions Ma" ahaha which telling me on a non-transitional day is hard enough, but when my whole life is flipping upside down, HA jokes on him.
So over five hours later in the car, we pull up at my new apartment, at least for the next two months, find parking ON THE SAME BLOCK which felt like such a good omen. We got the key and got to work unloading the car. Cousin Evan joined us when he got off work and helped up finish up unloading things from the car up the three flights (but more like 6 sets). [So massive shout out to Evan and Jess for their help, couldn't have done it without you guys! Love you!] After unloading, I didn't say it but I really wanted to get started settling, but everyone was hungry and Ev had a suggestion so off we went to get tacos. Late dinner and return to the apartment, Jesse headed into the city to meet up with friends and Evan back to his place, and me to mine... to take on the room. I got the frame laid out on the ground and found problem number 1 quickly, my predictions were off. My bed, with four drawers that go under the mattress, was a very tight fit. I spent time on the phone with a dear friend while I was building by lighting of Christmas lights, why? The two over head lights were burnt out... fun fact, I don't have a ladder so all of you thinking "go buy some lightbulbs dumb dumb" I thought about it but even if I had the bed set up my cousin who is much taller than I couldn't reach. So essentially add IKEA furniture building by "candle light" to my resume skill set. It was a feat. I'm good with IKEA, really good, not even poor lighting could slow me down.
Needless to say, while I can build via poor lighting, I could not however change the dimensions of the room... the best fit like a glove, literally headboard to foot of the bed slides right in... which in theory is FANTASTIC except, I lost two drawers worth of function. Nothing was going to dampen my thoughts, I was in NYC! An hour later, what did I learn next? I was only going to have access to one drawer?? Woof. Ok not how I saw this going, but again, wouldn't let it discourage me, the dresser went in, clothes (as many as I could fit) went into the one functional drawer, and two boxes were used to put under the mattress where the second drawer would've gone and nesting began. What was the second item to go up after the bed? My Washington Capitals flag... duh. Already felt like home. By the time I was done with what I had brought, I successfully fit everything I brought and dare I say, with extra space?! Don't get me wrong, not much, but I rolled with it.
Looks like a home right?! I was stoked, by the time Jesse arrived the next morning, I had set up almost everything. He was impressed. Now how much did I sleep? Not much, by the time I finished building the bed alone, it was probably like, well I don't even remember. But selfie photos of me contemplating sleeping in the frame did get taken. However, before sleep happened, photo frames were up, and much of the room was set up.
Jess and I went to brunch at a hole in wall spot nearby which was absolutely bangin'! After enjoying our brunch, Jesse decided to get underway so I decided to get more nestled in. I later found out, Michael, one of my best friends from college was teaching at 2pm in the city... so off to dance class I went. It felt like heaven. I didn't feel alone, I didn't feel sad, I just hit the ground running. Another good omen.
Let's touch on good omens, real quick...
1. Before I had moved, by a week, I had been put in touch with Claudia by Eve a dear friend. Claudia is the mother of two precious girls in need of care while she was understudying the Mark Morris dancers in Orfeo and Eurydice at the Met. We had a phone chat and she seemed comfortable and was looking forward to meeting. This connection had me going into NYC with a part-time short term paid opportunity. You'll be hearing lots more about them soon!
2. As I mentioned, Jesse and I found PARKING ON MY BLOCK when I moved in. My cousin was even shocked. Talk about the universe lining things up when you make a choice.
3. Less than 24 hours after driving in NYC to move in, I was already taking class. In fact, I took class the first three days I was in the city. I had taken much of the summer off due to my neck injury, but here I was already having time to take class. 2 classes with Michael who happened to be in town from Boston for those classes and a performance and one with Dharma and taken with Gabrielle, my yoga master and mentor. Three classes in three days, I was doing it. I was hitting the ground running and nothing was going to slow me down.
4. NYC people don't like to leave their respective areas... just trust me. That didn't stop me from going to them or seeking them out, in my first two weeks, I got to see Hannah, Michael (Boston), Gwen, Matt, Margot, Curtis, Julia and Robin. Some I saw in class, others I met up with - but I got to see so many familiar faces on purpose or by happenstance. It was amazing.
There are plenty of other topics I need to address:
- Nanny life
- Tunnel 2 Towers race/ Brooklyn Fall half marathon
- Caps bar
- Camille's Bachelorette/Wedding
- Taking class again
But those all have the potential to be their own posts so I will save those details for later.
So with all this said, my transition sounds so glamorous, smooth, effortless, and honestly in comparison to the last month and half, it was effortless. I found a yoga studio I liked that was close, I had seen friends. I was settled in. I had a part time gig and way to pay the bills and was taking class in the city. I was running, taking yoga, I found a spot to paddle, I found a crew I wanted to learn to surf with. I was fit and motivated. I felt alive and like I made the right choice.
Beginning of October hit and the hunt for work begun, I was finishing up my last week or two with the girls and knew my next job, new work/income needed to be a priority. So the hunt began and let me tell you, to this day, I'm still without a job. I spent hours on end applying, I can't even tell you how many jobs I applied to. Close to a hundred, maybe even more than that. I wrote cover letter after cover letter, I updated my resume per job application, I filled out paper work, online apps and just shut myself off, in my room on a mission. Eating mostly eggs and rice, I retreated to my cave of a room and just zeroed in on finding a job. I was in a dark place, literally being in my small room with a window that looks into another person's apartment and figuratively speaking not being in a good headspace. I without a doubt was the lowest emotionally I had been in a long time.
One thing I learned about myself was how much of my self value and worth came from how much I worked. I fell into this pit of depression not having work. I was angry, stressed, frustrated, I couldn't afford to meet up for drinks or dinner, I was beginning to feel like I had jumped back to high school with no background, no former experience, nothing to hire based off... And I spiraled. Badly.
With all my job experience, including the 10+ years of teaching dance, I wasn't able to get even a hostess job, something I've done! I felt unqualified for everything, no one would hire me, heck no one would even get back to me! My experience as a teacher and dancer wasn't cutting it in those realms. Bartending or serving - forget it. Heck, I had an interview to work in a yoga wellness space and was told I "wouldn't be a good fit" because they only wanted "people who did real yoga", who actually cared about its origin and meditative roots. "You're pretty but this isn't a fitness center and with you not interested in working with kids... I don't have anything for you but I could maybe see you in reception...I just don't think you'll be fit here." (Clearly didn't look at my resume before the interview or confusing me for someone else because even after I tried clarifying I was there to interview to do the kids yoga classes... she then questioned my background if I had ever taught youth before. Before the interview was over, she folded my resume in front of me and walked me out. It was easily the most discouraging interview I've ever been in, especially being told that I wasn't fit before words came out of my mouth. That yoga was only valuable if it was my one and only life passion. I'd never been in a position where so many assumptions about me were made before I said more than my name. I started to ask myself what I was doing here in the city. Do I really have what it takes to break into this city as a young women in a late twenties without a plan other than fight for the dream.
Between the hours spent between the four walls of my small room, the constant lack of answer to my applications, I was losing faith in my mission here but even more so... in my value as a person. I started to realize not having somewhere to go and use my skills and talents made me feel... directionless. I always knew I loved being busy and purposeful, I didn't know that without it I'd feel so insignificant. I loved being busy. I loved having goals and focus/direction. I wasn't dancing, I wasn't taking class, I wasn't running and I almost entirely lost my home yoga practice. All I had left was my breathing meditations at night, which I desperately was doing through sleepless night after sleepless night. It was a sad realization how much of my own personal value came from my ability to work. Then I compounded my self pity with guilt by realizing if this was how I was feeling, knowing full well the support system I had (that I was afraid to admit my status to)... I can only imagine how discouraging it must be for some people who are homeless constantly trying to do exactly what I am doing without the resources, support system, etc. How blessed I was considering... but let me tell you, the last month and a half, I've found every possible way to second guess myself, my career, my value as an employee, as a person. I was having triggers from my past pop up a lot and I was just overall struggling. I am stubborn so instead of sharing, reaching out, I buried my head deeper, letting in only a few people. I even went home a few times and didn't tell anyone because I was ashamed - I was the girl everyone was so proud of... chasing the dream, sacrificing everything to go after what I spent I lifetime working for and wanting... but instead she's unemployed, depressed and so deep in it she forgot why she was here.
For the first time in my life, I struggled to get a job. That may sound like a dick thing to say, but I've been employed whether seasonally or full time since I was in high school teaching and subbing, often times with multiple jobs. This was the first time since I started working, that I didn't have a job. In fact, since graduating college, I have not, until now, had less than three jobs. This past year l was commuting to seven different jobs. I never thought I lose myself so much without work.
I knew moving to NYC wasn't going to be easy. I knew I'd be hustling, heck I thrive when I hustling. I just didn't think the hustle was the going to be the "find the jobs" part but that it'd be the doing the jobs part. I learned I actually thrive when I busy working and hustling. Being unemployed for the last month has been a very discouraging, presenting massive learning opportunity but utterly disheartening. During this time, I had the epiphany that I think I've only been homesick one other time in my life which was when my first boyfriend broke my heart and I flew home for a weekend in the fall of my senior year. (Years later, there was a lot more to that homesickness than I realized...) but it was the most I ever wanted to be home until recently. I was always happy to be on my own, doing life, living big... then this past month, feeling it only for the second time - I felt like a lost puppy.
Lost beyond my family too - did I really love dance? Did I want this? Who was I kidding? Why would I leave so many thing I had built, been a part of, created or nurtured? Why did I leave friends and family? WTF?
One positive thing in my life is that I've always been a creative person and have always turned to that in hard times, whether it be writing, drawing, painting, doodling, coloring, my jewelry, dancing, yoga... etc. During my free time here, I did decide it was time to start creating my leather jewelry again. Yup, this time I went big and committed, I made an etsy shop! Please go check it out!!! Holiday season is coming up and a wonderful opportunity to support yours truly, the artist who is starting her next chapter.
But also during this time, I had some really intense life talks with some individuals. Between the few of them, I had a lot going through my head. These conversations had me look at it a little differently, helped me see that I was proud I took the dive and chance
AND YET....a lot of self reflection needed to continuously be happening and checked in on. When asked if I would be happy dying at 40 for my dream dance career for the next ten years - would I do it. My answer was no. It was an easy answer for me. That person said they were surprised by that, especially after I made the move. They then told me, they totally would have.
That lead to the following thoughts
Was the reason I wasn't further in my career because I wasn't willing to give up everything?
If I had to give up paddling, yoga, Spartan races, running, travel and all non-dance related things, would I be happy? No. Simple.
No question, I like and love a lot things. I'm a lover of activities, people, places and things... and I like that about myself. But was that why I wasn't more fulfilled in my dance career? Had I been playing it safe? Was moving here more reckless than I knew? Was I going to find out I didn't want to dance anymore? (Which no, that's not the case).
I love teaching and will be something I want to do during and after my performing career. I want one day to have a family, not ready for it now but if it was the dream career or that, I wasn't willing to have the perfect career. Did that make me not want it enough?
That had me reeling, did I have to sacrifice everything for dance? I still don't know. Another conversation was sparked with JVaine and we talked in depth on the phone for nearly two hours, it was awesome. A weight was lifted. Super thankful for this chat and the many since. We talked about transitions, depression, big life changes, paddling, exciting truths, self discovery and being cheerleaders for each other. One of the things we talked about was expectation… all I need to say I needed that conversation. It helped me realize I need to be open to it all now. I had plans and hopes coming here but by doing so I limited myself in who knows how many ways. I have like five post it notes of things to try, ways to approach this newest chapter, things to come back to, inspiration and just Vaine-isms that I needed. Like a dose of medicine, I got a little gentle nudge. Hell he reminded me to be a tourist in my new home, experience, immerse myself in it in all the free ways I can. This big chapter has humbled me tons and been misunderstood by plenty but I was reminded that I have nothing but endless opportunity if I stay open to it - whether dance related or not. He then a week later sent me this fantastic article that got my wheels turning further:
This then lead me to new thoughts, new questions. Did I enjoy the journey? Minus the unemployment, hell yea. Did I like rehearsals, training, pushing my boundaries? Absolutely. Did I love everything about it beyond the performing part? Mostly yes, minus the f***ed up way the dance world treats women specifically and the bulls*** mentality about body. Was it easy? No way. Did I feel overwhelmed by my art form - moved? Mostly. Especially not being limited to just one genre. (Taking Chris Jarosz's class when I moved here nearly had me in tears because I hadn't felt so alive in so long.)
There were a lot more thoughts that came with this article, many I'n still working, writing, and mentally tackling. Was I willing to struggle toward what I want? Yes. Without a doubt.
Then I was given "The Alchemist" shortly after I moved that I finally started reading a week ago. If you haven't read it, go, now, do it.
If you have, you may understand that the timing of me reading this book with my own Personal Legend in progress... following omens and learning in a new space, I have so much to gain right now, so many experiences to learn and grow from. I have so much to learn about people, the world, my career, my passions, and myself. I have so much unexplored opportunity before me. This was the line that reminded me how I felt the first few weeks in NYC, I lost sight of that Personal Legend, starting the Alchemist last week was like a omen bringing me back. A lesson and opportunity learned. A gift from a loved one, bringing me back to my mission.