Friday, October 25, 2013

Jumping off cliffs

My decision to move to New York City starts almost a year ago now. In 2012 I had been thinking of visiting the city for a while and finally decided to convince my best friend that we needed to take a road trip to the city. It would be my first time back in the city since 2004, a fact I am embarrassed to admit. I was looking forward to a vacation with my best friend, but for me, the trip turned out to be a lot more. When Kristen and I got on the bus back to New Jersey our last night in the city and when we got in the car the next morning to drive back home, I was overcome with sadness. I simply didn't want to leave.

Three months later I returned for a birthday trip for myself. I was going to see some friends, some shows, some museums, but most importantly I was going to figure out if I could live in NYC. My friend Sydney and I had talked about moving to the city before in the abstract, and she came to visit while I was in the city for my birthday. We decided then that moving to the city was absolutely what we wanted to do and we wanted to do it together.

After that, I started making plans. I applied for an internship at the Juilliard School. After several successful phone interviews I returned to New York City for a face to face interview. In that last trip to NYC in May it was all but a done deal - No matter what happened with the interview, I would move to the city in the fall. Several weeks later I got the disappointing phone call that I was not chosen to work at Juilliard. It was a set back, but I was determined to still get to New York.

Fast-forward through my summer in West Virginia. I had barely slept in a week and all I wanted was a Corona, an ocean and sand in between my toes. I woke up at 7am to drive to the beach and we were less than 10 miles from our final destination, almost 6pm when I checked my cellphone and had an email from an unknown address. Talk about emails changing your life: The associate designer to a new Broadway musical, Beautiful, was wondering if I would be interested in a design internship starting the next week. Turns out Juilliard was still impressed with me and sent along my information. I turned to my mom barely able to form words and read her the email. My mother said the best two words any mother could say at that exact moment: "Well shit!"

To say this was a once in a lifetime opportunity is an understatement and even though I had been looking forward to that beach vacation for over a year, I was not about to miss this. The next day I called the designer and agreed to be his intern starting the very next week and then I called my friend Jamie for help finding a place to stay. Jamie found me a place to sublet in 2 hours (God, I love that girl) and then I was booking a flight. I packed two bags and was all ready to go fly up on Monday morning and start on Wednesday. Then life happens.

It wasn't covered much on the news because luckily no one was hurt, but on the afternoon of July 22, there was a crash landing at LaGuardia airport (I had actually looked at booking that flight oddly enough). All flights to LaGuardia were cancelled and all flights to surrounding airports quickly filled up. I got in a nice long line of angry travelers to rebook my flight and try to get back home. If you want to see people's true colors, take them to an international airport and tell them all flights to their final destination are full. It was like the world had ended. Where as I was just grateful that I had not been on the plane that had crashed and I was going to get to sleep in bed that night- but maybe I'm just a glass half-full kind of girl.

Of all places to get stranded, I was stuck in Charlotte- so close and yet not home. After leaving Greensboro at 10:30 that morning, I returned to Greensboro at 11:30 that night. And then next morning I returned to Greensboro at 11am. The flight attendants even recognized me. I was so ready to get to New York. I waved goodbye to my Dad and went to my gate. I decided this would be the right time to tweet something from my phone about "on the road again." And then the worst feeling in the world overcomes me: Where's my phone?

With minutes until my first flight leaves I realize that I am without my cell phone. I have no idea where it is but it is not in my purse - my one carry-on item. My Dad has surely already left the airport and I do not know what to do, except cry. All my fears coming to a head: I'm moving to arguable the biggest city in the world, where I know few people, about to start a brand new job with big named people, none of whom I've ever met, without a cellphone. I cried most of that day. Luckily I had my iPad, but airport internet is shotty at best. I contacted Jamie, my angel in hipster clothing, over facebook to call my parents, not that it will do any good at this point, but my flights were getting more and more delayed and I was supposed to meet with Jamie once I landed. I got off the plane got in a cab, walked in Jamie's apartment, cried some more, called my cell phone on the off chance I had accidentally packed in my suitcase - to no avail, and finally got a hold of my parents, who at this point were standing in their living room holding my cell phone that had just rung. I was relieved the phone wasn't actually lost and Mom ran to FedEx right then to overnight the phone to Jamie. Then Jamie took me to a Mexican restaurant and bought me some much needed booze and food. Jamie also helped me find my sublet apartment and carry my luggage across Brooklyn - again, my angel.

The next morning I arrived to a Costume Shop in the theatre district and started my new job. Within one week I knew all the fabric stores in the fashion district, where the best Costume Shops are and met so many important people it was hard to keep them all straight. None better than the designer and associate designer of Beautiful, who made me feel like a part of the design team and were always so much fun to work with. Everyday I went to work with a smile on my face. I never knew what I would be doing that day - fabric shopping, shoe shopping, fittings, rehearsals - it was so great.

The internship ended in September. Beautiful did it's pre-Broadway run in San Francisco and has gotten some wonderful reviews. It will return to Broadway in November and officially open in January.  Since I got here I've met so many people. I now live in Manhattan - Washington Heights/Harlem (Sydney and I don't agree with which neighborhood we actually live in), in a beautiful apartment that we all feel very lucky to find. I have two roommates: Sydney is one of the best people I have ever met. She is a props artisan, crazy talented and well just a little crazy. We wouldn't have done this move without each other and I'm so lucky that I get to come home everyday and hang out with her. Our third roommate is Matt, an actor and web designer, also Sydney's older brother. Our apartment still needs a little love and care, but we love it.

I haven't been working consistently since the internship ended. In NYC, everything is 10x pricier than it should be so I've become an expert budgeter. I get hit on everyday, even when I look like a man, wearing sweats and no make-up. I have to leave an hour before I have to be anywhere in case something happens on the subway. Basically, living in New York is not as romantic as the movies make it seem sometimes. But even so, I could not be happier. There's always an adventure outside my door, and we all know I live for adventures. I live in one of the best cities in the world, with one of my best friends in the world, doing theatre with the best in the business. What isn't to love?


The first weekend Sydney and I were both officially living in the city (we had not quite yet found our current apartment), we went to Times Square and took this picture. Moving to the city together was our dream and we we did it. Without jobs, without a place to live and with very little money between us, we jumped off a cliff and followed our dreams.