NEW YORK, NEW EVERYTHING
Staring down the blank white page of tomorrow
Brooklyn is brilliant.
I note this to myself from a rooftop in the Dumbo neighborhood. I don’t know if I’m the type to enjoy living in New York, but if it ever happened, I’d hope for Brooklyn specifically.
I don’t know why it took me so long to discover this rooftop in particular. We’ve been crashing with my cousin and her partner, and this whole time, the rooftop of their building has been sitting right above us– a gorgeous view of Manhattan across the water, plenty of space to wander or sit back, and most importantly, an oasis of solitude in a wild city.
I love everything about this rooftop. Then again, it’s been kinda chilly, so maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to make it up here. Plus we’ve been running around a whole lot. Central Park. Connecticut. Chasing down my favorite chef. It’s been a week of blurry and fun times.
The other night, we did the whole Times Square thing for New Years’ Eve. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience– once you’ve done it, you feel like you’ve had your fill. It was a good experience, and I’m totally glad that we’ve done it, but it’s one of those bucket list items that are a bit more fun to have done than to actually do.
Now we’re back to Brooklyn, and we’ve got just a few more days here, and almost all of it planned.
A live taping of the Daily Show. That’s gonna be fun.
Going to see a live show to support my our friends’ band, the Heartland Nomads. So proud of them.
Most of all, making sure we’ve met up with all of our friends in the city. Quite a few of them have accumulated here over time.
I’m sure it’ll all go by pretty quickly.
Starting the year off in such a frantic fashion has really thrown off my ability to process the fact that I’m about to dive into a New Year and a new stretch of life.
With grad school over, we’ll more than likely be leaving Eugene soon. To where and to do what, I don’t exactly know. I have yet to really make much progress in looking for a job, but once we’re back in Eugene, that’ll be about all I have going on in terms of commitment.
We’ll fly out of Newark in a couple of days, arrive in Eugene, pick up the dog, and then we’ll be home. At least home for the time being. Then what? Who knows.
I’m sure that’s when it’ll finally hit me that it’s a blank white page I’m staring at. Few images are as loaded as the blank white page– possibility and potential, but also a sense of pristine condition that you just don’t wanna screw up. Then again, to do absolutely nothing with a blank white page is to waste it’s potential, and that in and of itself is a great way to totally screw stuff up.
What do you even want to do?
That’s a fantastic question. That’s the question that any blank white asks us. The blanker and whiter the page, the more aggressively it asks. It demands an answer.
I’m familiar with the glowing white screen of a laptop opened to a new document on Microsoft Word, and the pressure it comes with. Now I get the glowing white snow of a brand new year and a life that’s too precious to squander without asking yourself what would be worth spending it on.
What do I even want?
I want a home.
To be honest, I’m getting kind of tired of this pattern of moving every two years. I want to be able to dream up dreams that last longer than that. Last year, I came pretty close to launching a company to make my marketing work a little more formal. Not knowing where we’d end up living next really pumped the brakes on that whole idea. No sense in applying for an LLC in one state only to leave it months later.
I also want a community that doesn’t come with an expiration date of us having to leave in a couple of years. I know life is all about change, but I’d like to moderate this change just a little more. I want to be able to build bonds with people that see them from one stage in life to the next. I want my kids to know who my friends are and to have a sense of yeah… dad’s known that guy for for-ev-er.
I also want a pursuit.
Being in the city has been a strong reminder of that. New York is full of energy radiating off the people who are committed to pursuing something big. Actors looking for their theatre break. My friends dedicated to making it in the world of music. Business hustles. Immigrants who have come from all over looking for some way to give their families a better chance.
Seeing people chase after big things reminds me that it’s in the pursuit of something worthwhile that people find meaning and story in their lives. It’s not in the success, it’s in being fully engaged in going after something, overcoming one obstacle at a time.
I get that sense of energy radiating off of my friends who have started organizations, even small organizations that are still trying to get their feet off the ground. It’s the thrill and the challenge, the adventure and the heartbreak and the abundance of life that comes with pursuing something big.
I want that kind of passion project where if I ever got trapped in an elevator with Oprah, I’d go full force with hashing out my idea to her, inviting her on board.
As much as I’ve liked Eugene, one of the big things it’s lacked was that energy of people’s pursuits that tends to feed off itself. I love the outdoors, but for that, I think I might also need a city. Maybe not New York. But Portland? San Diego? L.A.? I’ve been thinking about these spots.
And this doesn’t have to happen all at once. More immediately, I want a job. And I’m quite flexible at what I’m able to do. I just want to be able to work hard and get anchored. It’s what’ll open the doors to these other opportunities.
The world has been a weird place lately. People seem angrier than ever. More driven by hate and fear and self-righteousness than I’ve experienced. There’s a lot of outrage and reason to be outrage. It’s been a challenge to my usual optimistic nature.
But I’m still hopeful. More than anything, I feel a sense of importance and urgency to be a part of contributing towards making a difference. I don’t expect to do this at a high level, or politically, or in mass. I think if I can get rooted and make the people around me feel valued, important, and safe, that’ll be a satisfying enough outcome for an individual person. I’d like to change the upsetting things about the world, but I’d like to do that by being present with my immediate community.
I think more than anything, this is what I’m hoping to do with my blank white page. I look forward to knowing what my immediate community will be so I can get started. It’s been hard to do that the past few years with some of my closest friends and people being spread all over the place.
Then again, that’s more or less what brought us to New York for the past couple of weeks. It’s been a good time sharing meals with cousins and friends and people I don’t see nearly enough of.
Elaine is one of those people. My old teammate from when we shared a van and drove all over the Heartland to talk to people about Liberty in North Korea. That was five years ago now. Five years. Sho.
Last night, we hung out on this exact rooftop. We caught up on life as it is now. Our relationships and the people in our lives. Her job at a bank. Her life in New York. Ours in Oregon. She’s doing well. I’m glad.
That chat and the subsequent flashback to 2012 was a reminder that many things in my life from five years ago are now gone. I miss them, but they ran their course and there are good things ahead, too. Those were my early twenties, my time of nomadic exploring and just getting started. My mid-twenties were marked by getting married and living in Oregon.
I turn 27 pretty soon. Pretty staunchly in my late twenties. I think about things I didn’t think about before with greater frequency. Starting a family. Long term pursuits. Building a community and trying to unify the two important tasks of making a living and pursuing life.
What happens next is a great mystery– but it’ll be fascinating to find out what it is.
It’s been a good long while since I’ve had this much mystery and anticipation in my life. It’s also uncertainty and ambiguity. Two sides of the same coin.
At the start of this year, I’m trying to embrace openess. Open hands to give and recieive. Open doors to welcome others and to take new opportunities. Open minds to be challenged while holding firm to convictions.
It’s like standing at the edge of a rootop. It’s a bit scary to not know what comes next, but it also makes the blood surge through your veins a little more furiously, it opens your eyes just a little bit wider, and it makes you drastically aware of every feeling in your body.
It’s a lot harder to be passive about life when you’ve got to take it one day at a time.
Welcome to the white blank page.