What’s it Worth

The other night, I had a dinner  with a friend whom I’ve know for well over ten years. We talked a great deal about how far we’ve come since we were younger. We talked about how much change has happened since the last time we saw each other. There’s something special about re-connecting with a friend who has been around for a majority of your life. They know you before you became the person you are today. They’ve seen you evolve, struggle, and overcome obstacles through a long period of time. At the end of the day, those are the people that you really need in your life – The ones who will stay with you even when you are at your worst.

We both grew up in the same town and went to the same schools. Now, we both work in a similar job field in New York City. We related on our current lifestyles and the choices that we’ve made since we graduated college. We related on the fact that the life we lead seems so much more difficult than those who are still back home. Everything about New York City is just more difficult.

After several hours of catching up, I finally arrived at the question, “Why did we ask for this?”

She replied, “Because we want more. We’re always hungry.”

I don’t regret the decisions that I’ve made since I graduated college. Frankly, I don’t regret any of the decisions that I’ve made in my life because they’ve lead me to where I am now (although I may not know exactly where that is)

Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am notorious for jumping into things prematurely. I just get too excited like a puppy asking for food. I haven’t quite been fully trained on how to wait. I have never had the patience. However, I am a very committed person. The problem with this is that once I’ve committed to something, it’s very rare that I back out. I will stick around to make it work even though the timing was never right in the first place.

I’ve always wondered why things were so hard for me in the beginning of any endeavor. I have the “Why wait?” mentality, but this mentality doesn’t apply in all cases. And I never learn. I re-encounter familiar situations time and time again, anxiously waiting for the day that things will work out from the get-go. But I’m doing everything backwards – Expecting great results without setting aside the time and preparation that’s needed beforehand. I must be a fan of self-destruction because many of my difficult situations that I’m placed in can be easily avoided if I had just been patient.

I know that I’m not the kind of person to settle for a life that is just easier, but it always makes me wonder if it’s all worth it.

It’s just good to know that at the end of the day, there are people in my life that can tell me it’s all worth it.

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Chaos versus Order

Have you ever had one of those days that just ends up being magnificent without having planned a single event? As if the day couldn’t have gone any better than if you actually did plan it.

Have you ever noticed that those days end up being magnificent because of the fact that you didn’t plan anything?

Some of my best and most memorable days were the unplanned ones. The days when something great would happen and I didn’t expect it at all. They were great because I wasn’t trying to control anything or think ahead of what should happen next.

Yesterday, me and my sister’s band, Until Love, played at our favorite open mic spot called Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We’ve been singing there for a few months now and have made many friendships through continuously going and connecting with other singers and musicians.

There is a certain degree of intimacy that we lose with people after we’re done with school. Friendships often tend to die out if you don’t make an effort to incorporate them into your ever-changing life. We’re less inclined to reach out to people as we become busier.

I’ve always agreed that the best way to really get to know someone is through forced togetherness. And I’m not referring to the notion of physically tying someone down and holding them hostage against their will. I’m referring to the notion of being around someone all the time and just naturally becoming closer to them because they are in your immediate environment. When we see the same people, we often develop a specific relationship with them. It may necessarily be a positive one, but a certain type of relationship develops. You get to know their mannerisms, the things that bother them, the way they react to situations, etc.

Yesterday, my sister and I hung out with friends that we’ve gradually become closer to in the past few months through our involvement with music. On top of that, we became friends with people who were visiting from another state. We had amazing conversations with these people whom we had just met and it ended up being the most fun I’ve had in quite some time.

One of the topics that we came across while conversing with our new friends was the idea of chaos versus order and how the world goes through a natural cycle of destruction and rebuilding. It, then, got me thinking about the cycles that we go through as humans. In our lives, we need chaos and order. They go hand in hand and you can’t have one without the other.

This unplanned day, although not to be termed chaotic, was somewhat chaotic in the sense that there was no order, no plan.

Sometimes, we need to shake things up in our lives to avoid stagnancy. We need to step outside of our comfort zone for the possibility that something truly magnificent can come out of it.

After all, life is about taking risks. You should do one thing every day that scares you.

Think.

I’m sure that most of you have heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”

Well, most of the time, we do. Actually, it could be safe to say that some of us always do. It’s human nature though. Sometimes, we just can’t help it.

For example, you fall in love with an apartment that you end up buying, but later find out that it has plumbing issues, the floorboards are crooked, and the bathroom has mold. You probably should have looked into this before signing the paperwork, but you were so blinded by your obsession with the great location, the floor plan layout, and the fact that the building has an elevator with a doorman. It’s hard to think about the negatives when all you see are the positives.

Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to be pessimistic, but I’m starting to think that maybe we should be a little more careful with the decisions that we make in our lives as we get older.

It’s much easier when you were a kid. You had the freedom to make silly decisions because silly decisions were all you had. The consequences weren’t as dire because your parents were usually the ruling hand (aside from teachers) The worst thing that could happen to you is your parents take away your toys and you’re left to sulk in silence. How terrible, right?

As we get older, the consequences that we receive come from all types of outside factors that could change the course of our lives forever.

I recently read a Medium article that my sister shared with me called, “I have 46 Thanksgiving dinners left with my family. After that, I’ll be Dead” It really dawned on me about how little time we have left on this earth. It suggested that we really start appreciating the people in our lives and the time we spend with our family, to stop worrying about the bullshit, and to be present in the memories that we are making.

As we get older, the more important decisions could come down to, “Should I switch job industries?” or “Should I fly out to spend Thanksgiving with my family or just stay here with my friends?”

These are the decisions that could change our lives forever. But I warn you, take a few minutes to step back and really think about what you’re doing because some decisions can’t be made undone.

What if the reason you were changing job industries was because there was another realm of business that “seemed” like it was doing better. Or what if you chose to spend your Thanksgiving with your friends because it would have been too much of a hassle to go home during a holiday?

At the moment, it seems like a minuscule decision, but these are the decisions that could breed the largest consequences.

What if you did change job industries and that business tanked? What if you missed Thanksgiving with your family and that was the last time you could have seen one of your relatives because he or she passed a few weeks later?

Sometimes, certain choices seem more appealing at the time, but as you get older, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t make split second decisions the way that you used to because you don’t have the same time as you did when you were 17. You never know what could happen. Some people come into your life and you want to put all of your cards down on the table for them, but in the end, you wind up alone because they never wanted the same things that you did. You have to look at the signs. You have to read through all the pages. You have to make the decisions that will be better for you in the long run.

I’m not discouraging anyone from taking risks or fulfilling their dreams. That’s not what I’m writing about at all. I’m just encouraging you to think.

It’s true that we become more afraid as we grow older. When we were kids, we would run as fast as we could without the fear of falling or getting hurt. Now, we’re so much more cautious with our hearts. But we must protect our hearts as we get older. That’s why we need to make more conscious decisions with the less and less time we have left on this earth.

Never Forget

I’ve been working in New York City for almost two and a half years now.

I started working here on June 4th, 2012.

I moved into the city on December 1st, 2012.

I moved out of the City on May 31st, 2014.

With all the changes that have happened in my life and the lives of others over these past few years, the city seems to always remain the same. However, there are still certain days that have an impact on me and at this point, will most likely continue to have an impact on me for the rest of my life; those significant days that bring crashing waves of memories because it changed your life.

As I commuted into the city this morning to go to work, there was a difference that I felt.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the day that New York City’s twin towers were attacked. I was in my sixth grade English class at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Edison, New Jersey when it happened. The impact of this event never hit as close to home as it has in my recent years since I’ve had an attachment to New York City.

When I entered Penn Station this morning, there was a memorial ceremony taking place in remembrance of 9/11. I was going to continue on my way to work, but I stopped to watch for a few minutes and my suddenly eyes began tearing.

I had no idea what came over me, but a wave of emotions took over and I was completely filled with sadness. As I got on the subway, I started thinking back on my life in New York City and how much it has changed me. I started thinking of all the past and present struggles in my life. I thought about why in the world I even chose to work in such an overwhelming place. As I looked around at the people who were next to me on the subway, I wondered if they were thinking the same thing.

I never thought that I would end up here. To be honest, I hated the idea of even being in the city when I was younger. I hated the smell, hated the crowds, hated the speed of everything.

Not until I started working here did I embrace this lifestyle.

This morning, I thought about how strong of a city New York really is and moreover, how strong the people inhabiting this city are. I thought about the impact that it has on millions of people.

I remembered why I fell in love with this city, with all of its seductive qualities; its chaos.

Then, realized why I became so sad this morning. I started to think about how close to home 9/11 really does hit me now and how close to home it hits to not only the people who live or work here, but to those who are outside of New York City; It hits not only just the United States, but the entire world.

New York City is made up of an endless combination of human beings. There are people living and working here who have come from every corner of the Earth. In the few years that I have been here, I’ve been moved by so many people who all have a unique story and attachment to New York City. To me, this place, this concrete jungle is my home. It’s no surprise that when I traveled all the way to Australia, I introduced myself as being from New York City instead of my actual hometown in New Jersey.

Everyone has some sort of attachment to this place. For some reason, it attracts all types of people and we will never fully understand why. It’s dirty, loud, and overall stressful to be in. But I do love it.

I’ve fallen in love a few times before – three to be exact. But the one love that has changed me the most is the love I have for New York City.

I know it’s a little melodramatic and exaggerated to say, but I fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with this place.

I watch television shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and How I Met Your Mother and I can fully understand and relate to everything that they reference.

To my friends who haven’t experienced the city the way I have, who haven’t worked or lived here, believe me when I say that you can never fully understand. There’s just something about being in New York City constantly; something that keeps us on our toes and wanting more. But, it’s definitely not for everyone.

So, on this day, when I think about the attack that happened on 9/11, I’m overcome with emotion. Because how dare someone attack something I love so much?

There will always be days that I will never forget. The day I started working here. The day I moved in. The day I moved out. And today.

Today is one of those days.

The Travel Bug

Recently, I’ve been noticing an abundance of articles being written about the growing trend of leisurely travel within Millenials. I, myself, can see this trend occurring throughout my own close friends and friends of friends. The more people that I talk to, the more that I see a pattern of people my age having an overwhelming desire to escape from wherever they may be at the moment. Even more so, a lot of people that I know have actually taken the initiative to pack up and leave.

They say that birds of a feather flock together. Well, it’s no surprise that some of the closest friends that I have made in New York have all escaped from wherever they were to be in New York City. It’s also no coincidence that a lot of the people that I’ve encountered in New York City are from the other side of the country, California in particular. I mean if you’re going to make a move, it better be a big one, right?

A few days ago, I mentioned to my sister that I wanted to try to see what it was like on the other side, over in California. I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for or why I think I would find it over there, but I’ve been curious to find out.

In around two weeks, I’ll be leaving for my first big international trip. Back in March, I earned a bonus check from my job and had no idea what to do with the money. Sure, a wise thing that I should have done was to put it away in my savings account or use it to pay off bills. Instead, I wanted to reward myself and splurge. And what better way to splurge than to book a flight somewhere and enjoy a nice trip?

Well, that trip ended up being a flight to Melbourne, Australia with one of my closest childhood friends. We just sat down one day, went on the computer, bought the ticket and that was it.

Only recently has it finally dawned on me that it’s actually happening, and the more that I think about it, the more excited and anxious I become. At the same time, I’m also scared. Scared about loving it there and not wanting to snap back into reality and never coming back.

It’s easy to run away from your problems; to leave everything behind when things are getting tough. I do that a lot with running (and I mean literally running) Whenever I’m frustrated, upset, or angry, I go for a run with the mindset that it will magically solve my problems. It does, but only temporarily. Of course, it’s never a permanent solution. No matter how far or fast I run, my problems are always back at home waiting for me, silently sitting in my mind.

So this makes me wonder about my generation, the Millenials. Where is the sudden boom of travel desires coming from? I hate to make assumptions or say that everyone is like me when they get the itch to go somewhere, but I also refuse to deny that it’s not a part of the reason. We have to be running from something. Maybe it’s growing up, or maybe it’s the fear of missing out, but it has to be something.

Are we all just running away from our problems whenever we catch the travel bug? I like to think that I’m not the only one with these feelings. I like to think that I’m not alone in this and that there is really something lurking in the waters of my generation. There has been a shift in the mindset of Millenials. We’re making moves. And it could be a good thing or a bad thing, but I hope that we all find whatever it is we’re looking for.

The Sum of My Parts

The last book that I fully read from start to finish was “Invisible Monsters” by Chuck Palahniuk. I read this while I was training for the Big Sur Marathon because I needed a hobby other than running to keep me busy since I swore off alcohol during that time period.

I hate to admit this as a writer, but I seldom read books for recreation. I know that I should in order to inspire different writing styles and learn from other great authors, but I continuously make excuses that I don’t have enough time (which is not true)

This book, however, inspired me a great deal in terms of thinking outside of the box as a writer. One quote, in particular, resonated with me throughout the duration of my marathon training and still resonates with me now.

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

Since I’ve been home, I’ve made it a point to see old friends that I’ve grown up with from high school and college. I like to check up on people to see how they are doing. Fortunately, I’ve been able to hang out with various groups of friends from different parts of my life. These are the people who still really matter to me; who have been with me through significant points of growth in my life up until this day. I’m grateful to have them in my life and glad that we still reconnect when we can.

It’s interesting, the conversations that I have with my different groups of friends. They all know me from different time periods, but somehow I’ve always been the same person throughout

As I continue my journey of “self-discovery” in New York City, I constantly as myself, Who am I? What makes me original?

I try to think of all of the things that make me separate my from the pack. However, I always come to the conclusion that there is someone out there who is doing the exact same thing as me, except better. There’s always a faster runner, a better singer, a stronger writer. But then I stop myself and ask why I’m even comparing to other people. Regardless of whether there are people who can do things better than I can, they can never do it with my style, my passion, my enthusiasm. And for that, I can only really thank the people who have me made me the way I am. My friends. My family. My teachers. My coaches. My co-workers. All of the people who have entered and exited my life. All of the people who I’ve encountered for brief periods of time or extended periods of time.

I remind myself of Chuck Palahniuk’s quote, but in a way that uplifts me. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If we didn’t have other people to inspire us, we wouldn’t get very far.

The whole self that is me is more important than the things that I do, where I work, the music I like, the food I eat.

As Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.

Burned Bridges

There’s something about moving to a new city that makes life so much more exciting. You get to experience a new environment. You gain opportunities to meet new people. When you leave everyone who knew you behind, you get to be anybody you want to be; far from who you were when you were home. You get to re-write yourself.

I’m back home in New Jersey for Easter weekend and as much as I hate to admit it, I can’t deny the fact that it feels great to be back here. There’s a level of comfort that you can only get when you’re at home. It’s that sense of familiarity that consumes us. It’s the feeling we get around the people who watched us grow up before we became who we are. That’s what I like at least.

Every time I come home, I can always expect the same thing because it’s the same thing every time I come home. Nothing here has changed and I think that’s why I left. Everything was always the same. I got too comfortable.

Whenever I come back, I think a lot about people from my past. I do this on my own anyways, even when I’m at my apartment in the city, but it happens more so when I’m back in Edison. It’s because of that familiarity. The roads that I used to drive on, the school that I went to, the park where I used to play. All of these places are linked to memories and people who once meant a great deal to me at one point in my life. I always get sad looking back on it because as I got older, I learned that it’s so easy to lose people. We grow up. We change. We go different paths. There’s a part of me, though, that really misses those people. This can be said for all people at the different points in my life, the ones who have been long gone and the ones who I’ve recently lost. They’ve all made me who I am today. I thank them for that.

It’s hard for me, sometimes, to accept the fact that you can’t just pop into someone’s life un-announced anymore. I get such an urge to contact people who I haven’t spoken to in months or years. Every time this happens, a rush of spontaneity overcomes me and I start this text that I end up never sending because I suddenly realize, we don’t even know each other anymore.

There’s an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” which coins the term, “revertigo” which is when you go back to being the person you were around someone who you used to know from your past. The reason for this is because you can’t really go off anything else. When you get to a certain point where catching up hardly seems possible anymore, you can only draw on shared past memories. There are a lot of people in my life who I could go without seeing for months, but once we reunite, it’s like we had never been apart for a day. But then, there’s people who I just have nothing in common with anymore. There’s nothing to say, only old jokes to stir up some laughter for a brief moment. These are the people I lose.

I’ve recently started noticing that every time I come home now, there are less and less people that I have an urge to contact. I can’t tell if it’s me, or us, or life. But I always ask myself, “At what point, do you just give up on someone?”

All relationships are hard work, whether it be a friendship or a romance. Someone has to care though. It has to work both ways. So what I wonder is this:

Do you stop trying once you’re the only one who is?

I’ve gotten to many points lately where I’ve realized that it’s just me on my own. Now that I’ve come back home and I can’t think of a soul to tell that I’m here, I wonder, am I done losing everyone from back home? Have I strayed that far since I moved to New York?

My pride gets to me sometimes. I think, well if they’re not contacting me, then I certainly shouldn’t contact them.

That’s how you burn bridges.

I feel that I’ve burned a lot of mine and when I go back to the island of Manhattan, there will be no way for my friends to get to me anymore.