Sitting on a bench, with a ball of white fluff on my lap and licking my fingers, already sticky from the sorbet I had eaten earlier, with a book just turned over on my right and a writing notebook just behind it. Quite a few of my friends, my New Yorker friends, some of them from my elementary school Churchill, are at the park, grinning and laughing and talking about the new show that just came out or that crazy movie, or what’s going on downtown, with ice cream that we’d splurged on but eccentric clothes that scream to the passerby around us, ‘West Village. People right in that creative niche of New York. May or may not be starving artists.’ And we laugh and talk about plans. Three of us want to do that 5K fundraiser next weekend, so we use our phones to sign up right there so we don’t forget. One of my friends might be living in Vermont, and I’ve roped another friend to come see her with me over a rare long weekend, at the end of the month. We talk about hiking and skiing a bit, and I tell them about the winter vacation I’ve planned as a large backpacking and backcountry skiing trip. They share their own adventures and plans, and when we all have to leave for the night we wave and I head to a cafe overlooking the park, one of those with vegan goodies, biscotti, and tea, and go back to my writing, or my book if I was just at a cliffhanger.
At work the area is nice, the buildings are clean, and people nod and say hi as I walk to my desk. I have a lot of control as a project leader and it excites me whenever we complete something, or get praised by our clients. The reports we do periodically record the economic and environmental impacts of our work. The work could be environmental consulting, new product design, documentary making, or video game design – but in any case the atmosphere is inspired yet not cutthroat, and long nights come during a busy week leading up to a final project but aren’t a regular thing.
I’ve tried out many classes each week, including photography, guitar, acting, and singing, so now I walk around with a digital camera looking for interesting colors on the water or puppies and post them to my photoblog as often as I’d like. Sometimes I make digital illustrations for my story or just for fun. I’m lucky that I have a well-enough paying job, because my musically-inclined friends tell me whenever a concert is happening and we go. Not all of them are high profile ones, but I’ve been impressed by many of them. I’ve really gotten into the music scene in New York, and I’ve actually been fortunate enough to meet some of the performing artists. I’m always adding bands to my playlist. I make it a point to see a movie or a show once a week. Or shopping – I no longer need or really want to limit my shopping trips to four times a year, whenever I would freeze or burn if I didn’t make them, and some of my friends really love going.
My editor has been calling me, sending me edits and questions and working with me a lot, although it’s a bit slow because I’m not a writer full time. But her enthusiasm helps keep me going through this long editing process. There are so many deadlines, but if I make them all I might get my epic novel published by mid next year. I’m lucky that my job is mostly a 9 to 5 one that gives me some extra time to think and write.
I head back to the train to commute home. I either have a place in the city like Brooklyn or someplace like Westchester. Wherever I am, the neighborhood is warm and inviting and has its fair share of crazy progressives.
Besides almost every moment in and around the city, I love getting to travel. I’ve done the Peace Corps and had my eyes opened quite a bit more from that experience. I can also speak Spanish almost fluently after all of that time – almost. Afterwards I’ve visited many areas of southern Africa and even spent a week with an indigenous tribe there – and got to write all about it. I’ve got goals on my life list that I am just now planning out – taking months off eventually to hike the Appalachian trail, completing an ironman, writing a song.
That’s more than enough to keep me smiling as I walk down the street. My phone goes off. It’s a text from him saying he can make it to the cafe and movie tonight, and that the last concert was even better than last week’s. And should he buy the new fiction book that’s on sale that I’d reviewed. He’s at the store now.
I text him back ‘NOOOOOO’ and then ‘Well I won’t drag you out of there but…’ and then an ‘It’s YOUR money…’ and grin because I was walking to the same place. In ten minutes I round the corner to the bookstore, look inside, and see him near the front of the line. I can’t see what he’s buying but he’s at the register, so I go around. As he’s leaving I jump on him and yell ‘GOT YOU!’ in front of the whole store.
He’s still laughing when we get to the movie. I’ve got his hand in mine. We’re going to talk about our trip and our future a bit together tonight. It’s almost been two years. I squeeze and don’t let go.
That last part might all be in my imagination. Even more than my job is. But getting eight hours of sleep a night and making money to keep my dreams alive and loving my job would be more than enough to keep me smiling every day as I walk through the street.
I’m not in a great place at this very moment, but I will be. One day.