Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Baby Mommas

I have a feeling this post may veer into spiritual territory, something I rarely do because I don't like to alienate those who don't share my beliefs and also because I've always felt like my spiritual life is quite personal. I understand why others want to proclaim their views to the world, I really do, but for me, it's always felt kind of like telling people more than they'd like to know about what happens in the Brooklyn Momma/Daddy Bedroom. So, in advance, you have been warned.

We had an incredible trip to Kentucky to celebrate Christmas with my family. So incredible, in fact, that I didn't feel like separating myself from it for a single moment to blog. Sorry if I ruined everything for my dedicated readers for about two weeks.

It's hard to explain why it's so amazing to me how much I enjoy returning to Kentucky these days. Let's just say my family experienced quite a bit of turmoil for most of my life, and by the time I moved to NYC in 1998 (three weeks post college graduation), I felt like I was fleeing. There were constant arguments, lots of unhealthy behaviors and the feeling (whether self-imposed or not) that I didn't belong. I didn't belong in a small town, I didn't belong in Kentucky, I didn't belong with my family.

I'd had a short-lived, tumultuous relationship with a man in college who convinced me I was destined to move to New York. To be honest, until our romance, I figured I'd move to Nashville, possibly as far away as Atlanta, upon graduation. Although I was a theater (and French, don't forget the French! So practical!) major, I just didn't think I could cut it in the big apple.

But he sold me on it, and once he broke up with me -- with much emotion, embarrassing displays and gastro-intestinal problems on my part -- I wanted to go there, as much to prove a point to him as anything else.

And, to this day, I can't thank him enough for this.

I needed to show myself that I was capable -- capable of self-preservation, capable of living alone, capable of actually writing, producing and directing my own plays in New York City! And I did. I also developed an intensely accurate internal map of the subway system, learned how to not let anybody cut in front of me in line, and can tell you the best place to get pizza, sushi, bagels, and egg creams in the city.

And, of course, I made a circle of wonderful friends, met the love of my life and was blessed with a wonderful daughter here.

Amidst all of my self-discovery and actualization, my Kentucky family began to heal. My parents got their much-needed divorce, my mother threw herself into her career, my father moved to Las Vegas (a city that was made for him), my sister and one of my brothers met their soul-mates, and my other brother survived a brutal divorce and emerged a stronger, incredible father, brother and son.

Sometimes I feel like a major bum for not being there for anyone during any of this. My brother Jason and my sister Nora have been rocks for my mom, and my brother Kerry has taken excellent care of my dad, especially now that his health is fragile. What was I up to? Going into debt to produce my plays, moving apartments a million times, strolling around museums, and buying $13 cheeseburgers.

But it is what it is, and I can only work with the here and now. Which is what is so confusing.

The Brooklyn Baby Family found an apartment that is affordable, in a great neighborhood, and has given us great friends with kids Stella's age. I have a job teaching at possibly the best public school in the country. I can write and perform my work to real audiences in a variety of venues. Dave has the opportunity to possibly find a job writing for another major publication here in New York. And Stella can always have the amazing bragging right of being a native New Yorker.

And yet, and yet, my heart and my soul tell me we're not supposed to be here. That little voice keeps telling me that our lives were meant to be lived in Kentucky.

I don't know if you've ever read Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist. Some people think of him as too new agey, but I find his theories to completely match up with my instincts. He thinks we each have a purpose in life. However, we also have free will. God can give us little hints (omens, as he calls them), that we're on the right or wrong path to fulfill our destiny, but He can't flat-out tell us what to do.

For example, years ago, when I found myself, once more, without an apartment, I really wanted to move in with Dave. However, he wasn't ready for that commitment. I seriously considered breaking up with him at that point. But then, when I began to search for a place, I found only one apartment that was anywhere near my price range (this was back when NYC real estate was even more ridiculous than it is now). Guess where it was? Less than a block from Dave. That felt like an omen.

So, this long and rambling post leads me to this. When we were in Kentucky last week, life was blissfully easy and calm. Yes, I realize we were on vacation, but this goes beyond that. People were friendly and open. Grocery stores had what we needed and were easily accessible. My family babysat for me so Dave and I could be alone. Sigh. Easy. Not to mention the rolling hills and low cost of living and the fact that we never had to worry about where we'd park our car. But I digress.

Coming back to NYC on New Year's Day, by contrast, was an enormous smack in the face. We picked up our car from the long-term parking garage to find that the driver's side window wouldn't roll up. In winter. We began driving on the BQE (a crowded expressway), cold, January air blasting us in the face. Then we began to smell burning rubber. I looked in the side view mirror only to find that our entire back right wheel had separated from the rim and was rolling down the freeway.

Dave, to his immense credit, remained calm and pulled off on the nearest exit -- Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. However, as we approached the intersection at the bottom of the exit, the brakes failed, and Dave had to use the parking break to stop us from colliding with several other cars.

At this point, we were shaken up, but elated to be alive. Dave pulled into a Getty gas station. The minute he turned off the engine, the attendant approached us, and in very broken English told us we had to get off of the property. I explained that we just had an accident and needed to wait here for AAA. He had no sympathy, not even when I produced my adorable 20 month old daughter, so I grabbed my purse and stormed off to the nearest diner, but not before cursing in his face and saying things that I'm intensely ashamed of now.

I ordered Stella a $9 peanut butter and jelly sandwich and tried to breath. Although I told the waiter that we'd just had a wreck, when I started to cry, both he and the folks around us completely ignored me. Stella began to get restless, spilling her milk and throwing her food everywhere. It was late and she was ready for bed.

I called a car service, but when they arrived, Dave had trouble loading the car seat in, because they did not have the LATCH system and their seat belts were messed up. So Stella and I sat in the car, freezing because the window was broken, and waited for around an hour and 15 minutes for AAA to show up.

They finally did, and the angel working for them quickly fixed our window and jumped our engine (oh -- did I forget to mention that the car wouldn't start, either?). However, his jack wasn't working. So we had to wait another 15 minutes for his associate to bring us a jack and for him to change the tire.

This whole time, nobody stopped to ask us if we were OK. Passers-by seemed annoyed that our car was in their walking path. At some point, Dave asked a couple in a car if he could borrow their jack. The minute he turned his head, they sped away, yelling at him, "sorry man!"

Well, we finally got home, and put the little one to bed. Our wonderful friend, Julie, who'd been watching our cats, gave us some Hoppin' John and collard greens (a Southern tradition on New Year's Day), which we ate gratefully, both out of hunger and a desperation to turn 2010 around.

Yesterday, we stayed in our PJ's and watched TV all day, telling ourselves we needed to recuperate. That night, when I was ready to turn in, our next door neighbor began using a power saw and hammering. At 10:30 at night.

Which means construction has literally been surrounding us in the last three apartments.

Thankfully, this guy stopped when Dave went over there, unlike our last noisy neighbor, but really, COME ON!

So, please forgive me if this feels a bit new agey or whatnot, but this just feels like the final omen in a string of omens that we don't belong here. True, it would be scary to start all over, to make new friends, to find new jobs, to get a house, whatever. But I can't help but feel like that's exactly what we need to do.

Now, how to get the Brooklyn Baby Daddy to agree with me...and what the heck would we call our blogs?


Holly said...

Oh jeez, what a return to New York. I'm so sorry you guys had to deal with all that bad luck.

I'm with you on the omens and gut feelings. Sometimes, you just have to go with them.

If you really feel Kentucky is where you should be right now, then you need to go.

Sure, you will give up some things -- things you just won't have in the same way there. But there are so many other things you will gain. And deep down, those things must be what are most important to you at this stage in your life.

In the fall of 1998, I knew, just knew I needed to be in Berlin the following spring. And then in the fall of 2002, I knew that I needed to go home to the US, even though I loved Berlin so much. I followed those instincts, and while I wasn't vindicated in my decisions every single day, I feel now that they were the absolute best ones I could have made.

Good luck figuring out a plan! You will make it work!

Sheila said...

I read your blog and love it! I relate to your experience in this city. Even though I moved here almost two years ago, I certainly feel your pain. This city gets rough on you in so many ways! I live now in what used to be your neighborhood (Kensington) and have the same problems you had! Noisy neighbors, construction, etc! I have a 13 year old daughter (I'm only 30 years old) and now expecting my second little one, so we will see how it goes! Hang in there! Don't go back to KY! Sometimes I want to back to my beautiful paradise island, ( Puerto Rico) but then think of all the opportunities for my little family here and think it is soooo worth it!