Second thoughts, second chances. I think everyone has second thoughts but not many of us get second chances or when we do we don’t realize it. I know all the cliches about hindsight is 20/20 and “Don’t look backward you are not going that way” but I have a wandering wondering mind. So I sometimes look over my shoulder; sometimes at the choices i’ve made and sometimes to see what might be coming up behind me to bite me in the ass.
In a previous post I mentioned how I ended my art career by my own hand. I could also say: I let the terrorists win. The events of 9/11 were the straw that broke the camels back. New York City was wearing me down already. What had been the greatest place in the world during my years in college lost some of its luster when it became my place of employment for a variety of reasons. Commute, money, being the top reasons among others. After 9/11 I was done. I was unhappy and frankly scared. As an artistic creative type I have a very vivid and overactive imagination. Seeing myself being blown to smithereens by a suicide bomber during my 45 minute subway commute (one way) was a daily occurrence. I decided it was time to leave and so I did. In an almost unbelievably complete way. The end of October 2001 I packed all my worldly belongings in a van and drove home to Connecticut. Using one garage bay at my parents house as a storage unit. I returned the van(from Barn Rentals in Queens, what a piece of shit) spent another few nights in Queens and moved back to my hometown.
I had spent the almost all of the previous 8 years in NYC. Work and then school. I made great loyal friends who shared many of my ideals, interests and passions. I was happy, I was accepted and I was pursuing the one thing I thought I was ever any good at: Art. In the span of a months time I gave it all up. The friends, the art, the dreams. I maybe returned to see those friends once or twice more in 2001 and I was gone. In the few times I returned after that I don’t think I even bothered to try and get in touch old friends when I was there. I saw some of them again during a wedding a few years later but that was about it.
Some friends kept in touch or they tried. It was often a one way street, my side being a dead end. I didn’t see how that part of my life mattered anymore. It didn’t have the same dreams or goals I used to. I didn’t have anything in common with my friends from college/nyc. I think some of it was based on shame, based on the fact I had given up. I had nothing to add to the conversation. I wasn’t necessarily unhappy but I also wasn’t very happy. I took pride in my job each day but wasn’t proud of the job I was doing. To me it wasn’t worth talking about. It was something I did. I lived with that mentality for many many years.
I probably would have stayed at the job I was doing indefinitely had things not changed in a major way. ( Originally it was a 5 year plan:”i’ll stay 5 years and move onto something different and better, this is just for now.” When things went bad it was heading towards 7 years). I knew i had to leave I had to change; it was no longer going to work. Immediately art popped back into my head. I like art. I got paid for art. It was the only thing I was ever good at(but was I still?). I stayed at this job for another year. Each month reinforcing the fact that I needed to leave. I needed to change. There was no way to stay.
This is where second thoughts comes into play. What if I had been better at keeping in touch? What if i had taken more trips to NYC? What if I had some fun? Maybe this job I took so seriously, that I devoted so many of my hours, days and weeks to would have seemed more bearable had I allowed myself some enjoyment. I remember going to a Christmas party and meeting a girl who had mutual friends. We hit it off. But I had closed the door on NYC and never pursued it. Would a few dates I the city have killed me. Probably not. So the second thoughts were many.
The second chances I can thank my friends for. My loyal friends who shared my ideals, interests and passions. The friends I thoughtlessly abandoned. The friends whom I was too ashamed to keep in touch with. They welcomed me back with open arms. After 10 years in limbo I decided It was okay to get back in touch with them and show my face. They didn’t ask why I didn’t call or write or email. They didn’t accuse me of being rude,a bad friend or a self centered prick. One of the first questions I got was “When are going to visit?”. The level of acceptance was overwhelming and humbling and lets me know I had and still have amazing friends and friendships that can’t be replaced.
That finally happened in June of 2012. In what has been one of the most interesting times of my life. A time of growth,exploration, connection, immense happiness, some sadness, many answers many more questions.