Saturday, June 21, 2008

Castaway

Walking around in New York City, it would be easy for one to forget they were on an island. But not this particular trip. Despite the fact there are over 5 million people living, working, and visiting the island of Manhattan on any given day, I still managed to feel as if I was all alone. Maybe that is because for the first time in a long while, this trip was all business… no pleasure. None of the usual suspects were in town, my relationship was non-existent, and everyone else had nine to fives. I’ve never been one to depend on the company of others to have myself a good time, but it’s always fun to explore a new city with a special someone.

Seeing the city from the eyes of a singleton was definitely an enlightening experience. Sure, I took my meetings and met all my professional obligations, but no amount of success seemed to make this sense of emptiness go away. I kept thinking that when my work schedule kicked into full throttle that things would not hurt as much, and there would be this reawakening of my old self. But the reality of the matter was colder than the concrete the city was built on. There in the multicultural Mecca that is Manhattan, I felt lost. I felt forgotten.

There’s nothing like having your world turned upside down in a city you don’t really know. One day you’re in absolute bliss, and the next… well, it’s you, your cat, and your suitcases sitting on the steps wondering where it all went wrong. Talking to friends from a thousand miles away serves as much purpose as talking to Wilson volleyball. You certainly can’t go running to mommy and daddy’s house, because they are a two hour plane ride away. And all shoe shopping and retail therapy in the world not only leaves you with an empty soul, it leaves you with an empty wallet. At the end of the day… you really are the little old lady that lived in a shoe.

Finding a good apartment in NYC is about as easy as finding the perfect boyfriend. All the good ones are taken, and the rest have some serious underlying issues. Sure, one may have a beautiful view overlooking the park… but it’s also a six story walk up. The other may have only had one owner-- a cute little 87 year old lady, but did they also mention the little old lady happened to own about 30 not so little cats?? Finally, the last one may be walking distance to your work or a mere subway stop or two from the city… but you’ve owned closets with more space than this baby. And despite what they say… Size does matter.

Men are seemingly no different. Some have serious vanity issues that make life more of a hassle than it’s really worth. They may be pretty from the outside looking in, but they require a ridiculous amount of work and aside from “the view” there isn’t much pay off. Then there are the previously owned guys. And I do mean “owned.” These are usually the guys that got crapped on by their ex gf’s so much, so that they themselves become the one doing the crapping in their next relationship. It’s a natural defense mechanism. And while their new girlfriends may not necessarily deserve it, they usually end up paying for the damage the last tenant left behind, not to mention cleaning up the stains that just won’t go away. And then there’s the kind that just never really tries to measure up to the standards. Maybe they’re tired of the way girls didn’t appreciate them in the past, or maybe they are just tired of trying. Regardless, these never really reach their true potential, and while they may be convenient… the new girl never gets back the investment she puts into it.

Sometimes we rely so much on others to define who we are, that we forget who we are on our own. Maybe we spend so much time trying to please everyone else that we forget the things we like, that we enjoy. Simple things like wearing our sweatpants to the diner on Sunday mornings, after a late night out drinking with friends. Or pulling our hair back in a pony tail, not because we want to look like school girls, but because sometimes having long stripper hair is soooo overrated. Or maybe spending a Saturday afternoon doing nothing but hanging out in the park watching the little leaguers play “Kill the Man with the Ball.” I like eating buffalo chicken wraps at 11 am, if they served beer that early… I’d probably have one of those too. I like watching CSI marathons, even when I already know who-dun-it. And as much as I love the company of a significant other, sometimes I enjoy an afternoon to myself, or a night out with friends.

This trip to NYC reminded me about my wants, my needs, my hopes, and my dreams. It was about finding myself again, and not the doormat I had allowed myself to become to so many people. It made me sad to see the pet cemetery version of myself I had become, just to make others happy. Not to say that there hadn’t been fun times, and great memories… but maybe that was all they would ever be. And I would just have to accept that, and continue on with my own life. And that life starts with a new apartment.

I want a place with a view, a place filled with color, and character. I want a place that is drenched with light, so that even as the New York weather turns from hot and sultry, to downright frigid, I can still see the sun when I greet the day. But most importantly, I want a place to call my own, because when you have worked for it all by yourself... it makes coming home after a long day that much sweeter.

Finding a new life is more than picking out rugs, finding new doctors, and befriending a new hairstylist. It’s about writing the next chapter in your life. Sure the last one may not have ended the way I imagined, but life in itself is unpredictable. People will come, people will go.. leaving a lot of guesswork in uncovering people’s true motives to be a part of our lives. In a city of people trying to all get ahead and make a name for themselves, all you can do is stay true to yourself, and not become one of the masses that doesn’t open doors for others, or help someone struggling to pick up their belongings they dropped in the street..or doesn’t take a chance on someone just “because” they like the familiarity of something that didn’t work the first ten times around.

So maybe I was all alone on a cement island, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have good people back home that care about me and want me to succeed. My family will always be there for me, and leave a light on in case I catch the late flight home. My friends will always be there to throw me a life preserver when life’s waters get too rough, and I need rescuing. And maybe one day, someone special will send me a message in a bottle.. just to tell me that everything will be ok and I haven’t been forgotten. After all, in a city as big as Manhattan, I think we’re all just trying not to be lonely.

9 comments:

roothog229 said...

I'm always impressed at how you are able to take the feelings that not only you, but so many others feel, and comprise them into the simplest yet deepest of words. You're right, in Manhattan, or wherever you go, we are all just trying not to be lonely. We want to fit in, we want to grab for anything that makes us feel like we're not alone. And we lose our independence, and begin to compromise too much of ourselves, and things only go down from there.

What makes you special, Jenn, is your overall refusal to compromise in just about all aspects of life. You refuse to give up or give in, no matter how tough the situation. It's what makes you uniquely you. And though you say you need a "message in a bottle", you really don't in a way. You have the brains, you have the true grit that only the best have (aka Tiger during the US Open), and you have an inner strength that inspires so many.

Keep on keeping on Jenn. I'm thankful for every bold step you take.

Michael Vincent said...

More times than none, big cities have the ability to do that to people...even someone as beautiful and ostentatious as you. I would not let those feelings of loneliness cause you to fall into a state of bewilderment, for people are always there to remind you how special you truly are. In regards to that "special someone" that has been damaged in previous relationships, only time and the right kind of lovin will be able to mend that broken heart. Demonstrating the ability to "let go" and to fill the hole in someone's broken heart is not an easy task...and from reading your previous postings, I am sure you know what I am talking about. Hard-work is needed in order to reach that someone's "true potential" because, at the end of the road, you never know what type of person may develop. Even though that person may have spoken to you about how devastating that person has become from heartbreak, you never truly understand the amount of that person's sorrow until you step into their shoes. If you believe that the love is real, then you should not have any doubts or thoughts of giving up, regardless of how deep in self-loathing that person may be.

After reading this post, it seems like that you have been trying too hard to make other people happy...like you owe something to them. You should try for once to look into your heart in order to find what will truly make you happy and feel like a princess. Seems as though you just need a shot at someone that is worth your time and effort, someone that will wake up everyday and put you on the top of their list of "Things to Do." If it were me, my number one priority would to make sure you smiled as soon as you woke up by reminding you how infatuated I am by having you succomb to a good morning kiss. Because, lets face it, love conquers all, and to start a new day off with love makes the rest of the day seem like a breeze.

Every one of the wants that you stated are all material things...but what happened to the other things in life...like love for people? Seems as though you should put down your wall every once and awhile...because if you stay guarded all the time, you never know what you could be missing out on. You could have all the material possessions in the world, but without that Prince Charming to brighten up your day, your left with an apartment full of nothing.

I do not know who you are, but I do know that I see true beauty...and you are one of the finest that I have ever seen and would like to know. Sometimes, a reality check is all you need in order to put you on the right path. And once on that path, search for the signs to take you even farther.

And if your heart truly belongs to Florida State like mine does (will be graduating soon), then I will end this note by saying...lets go 'Noles!

PS I do not know about you, but I hope Tim Tebow breaks one of his legs this season...

Yeijong said...

Welcome to NYC! If you need a friend or someone to show you around..I'd be glad to...=)

eagle0521 said...

Jenn, I know you don't know me but I know a little about you. I started reading your articles in SI awhile back and was impressed by your knowledge and articulate writing. I also am a daily listener to a certain satellite radio show and was EXTREMELY happy at the course of events that was taking place. Now, I have to say, I'm quite bummed that things apparently haven't worked out. I miss hearing you on the show. If I can be so bold to ask, is it really over? I felt like the two of you really bonded and understood each other and your professions. I knew from the first day you were on the show and you said you'd sworn off guys that you two would hook up. What a bummer! I hope you can fill me in where you can and I REALLY hope you guys can work things out. Sorry if I'm prying. Steve

Shane said...

It's weird how loneliness works. No matter how many people are around you, you will always be lonely on the outside if you're lonely on the inside.

Chris said...

Having lived in NYC for seven years, the feeling of isolation compared with the volume of people is startling; but it is like anything else, its what you make it. The Big Apple is a place where everything is for the taking, but it doesn't happen if you don't take what you want. Good luck with your NYC experience...

atlguy said...

Great blog. Best of luck on your new adventure in that crazy city. As a guy that spent a lot of his life in NY I think you've hit the nail on the head with working to stay true to yourself and not become part of the masses up there. That city works fast and can be all consuming. The best advice is to make a pact to yourself to keep smiling and having fun, even when the city seems to want to go against that.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in NY all my life. You will love it.

John Merino said...

NYC isn't like many other cities. If you are looking for kind hearted people and people who smile at everyone they don't know... your going to be disappointed this is a old blog so im sure you figured that out by now. I went to Florida for vacation. Disney is nothing but mass advertisement now, shame. But people there are much friendlier and they actually care about other people even strangers. NYC sadly is not one of those places. If you can not walk down the street and worry about who is conspiring or who is waiting to jump you then you know something is wrong. But there is something about NYC that so many other places don't have. A sense of reality of how people can really be. Terrible.