Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

I knew very early on that Pennsylvania was not where I wanted to spend my entire life. A dancer from the time I was 3 years old, I was regularly traveling to New York City with my dance studio for dance conventions and competitions. I fell in love instantly and informed my mother that that is where I was meant to be. It was always my planned destination after college, a no-brainer seeing as I was a theatre major. The pieces fell into place rather easily and, only a year after graduation, I was packing my life into a U-Haul and moving away from home. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. Although I had never lived this far away from my family before and I hardly knew the girls who were to become my new roommates, I was never so certain of anything in my life. I've never regretted the move to this day.

What occurred to me recently is that once I got to New York I made no more plans. Oh, sure, I planned to find a restaurant job to make the most money that I possibly could, I planned to take classes at Broadway Dance Center, I planned to be an actor. But I never planned where I would go or what I would do next in the grand scheme of things. The first part of my life was so set in stone - be a dancer, study theater, move to New York City. It was what I planned and it was what I did. Then my plans abruptly ended. I had never thought about where else I wanted to go but I had never firmly decided that New York City was my final destination.

When I decided that the life of an actor or, more appropriately, the life of a bartender was not for me I went into a bit of a quarter-life crisis. Should I stay in New York City? Should I go home to Pennsylvania? Should I try a completely new location? The second question was easily answered, I had no desire to go back to PA. The third question weighed heavily on my mind for quite some time. After a surfing trip to Mexico my thoughts turned to the West Coast and living the life of a beach bum surfer. I was seriously considering the move when my first question was answered. Ultimately, the answer came in the form of a boy. So, yes, I stayed in New York and I'm happy I did.

But here is the dilemma. Every so often, Arbor boy and I talk about moving out of the city. We both look forward to one day having a yard where he can play in the dirt and I can play with my dogs (that I plan on adopting once we have said yard). The dilemma is that we have no idea where we want to go and, once we get there, will we even be happy? How do we know that suburbia or rural life is what we really want? I then ask myself, how did I know that I would like living in New York City? Sure, I loved visiting but visiting a place and living in that place are two very different things. Was it a hunch, did I just know that I would love living here? Or was it the naivete of youth that made me so sure. It's true, sometimes I'm so tired of living in this city that never sleeps (pardon the pun but the frantic pace of New York is there, just outside the door, all the time) that I can't wait to have a house with nothing but peace and quiet all around. But then there are the warm sunny days when we enjoy a walk around Central Park followed by dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants and beer drinking at The Beer Garden (I will definitely miss that place if we leave) and I think, how could I ever leave this place that I call home.

I guess the truth is, you never know. You just have to take the chance if it feels right. Some people will point out that "the grass is always greener" but I've rarely fallen prey to that cliche. It was used when I was considering giving up bartending for a more "normal" job. I left the restaurant industry a year ago (well, I was asked to leave but that's another story) and I haven't missed it for one second. So maybe we'll just know when the time is right, like I knew that New York City was the place for me. Or maybe we'll take a leap of faith and see what happens. Maybe we should revisit our youth and be as naive and headstrong as we once were. Maybe the grass will be greener on the other side, maybe not. But at least we'll have grass.

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