"No. No, I'm not going anywhere," I shook my head, shivering in the wind coming off the river, smiling at the cars racing over the Queensboro Bridge.
"I've wanted to live here my whole life. My WHOLE life. I've never flown into JFK or La Guardia or even Newark without this overwhelming feeling of being home. At the end of every trip I've seriously considered just not getting on the plane the next day. I've never been so sure I wanted to stay somewhere. I always want to move. I always want to go. Right now, I just want to be right here. This is it"
"Wow, you're actually living your dream right now. I didn't realize it meant so much to you"
"Yeah," I say, starting to tear up a little "I'm a fucking sous chef in New York City, that was the dream".
It was a dream delayed, cast aside, forgotten. A dream I thought would never happen. A dream I though I no longer wanted (at least the chef part).
When Lara asked me if it were surreal, living here after wanting it for so long, I had to think about it. It took a while to sink in that I was really here to stay, that I wouldn't have to get back on a plane. Sometimes when I say "I'm a pastry sous chef in New York City," it still sounds a little crazy, a little like something real people don't just become but then I realize "I'm a chocolatier in California wine country," sounds even less like a real life story.
And really, my whole life is a little like that.
Hi, I'm Alana Margaret. Born in New York. Raised in California. Drug addicted parents, one now dead in a motorcycle accident, one now a clean and sober truck driver. Raised by my grandparents. Self reliant, self motivated, goody two shoes. I've helped build a school in Thailand and volunteered at one of Mother Theresa's hospitals in New Delhi. I've taught English to high schoolers in Turkey. and then come home and somewhat impulsively gone to Culinary school. I've been a chocolatier, worked at my dream bakery and been a chocolatier again. I've worked with teenage drug addicts. I've moved across the country two weeks after being offered a room.
I have never done anything I wasn't passionate about. And I think, I think that is what I love about this city. I love the pace. I love working hard and playing hard and walking quickly. I love being in the rush, feeling like I am surrounded by other people that are living their life with purpose, whatever that purpose may be. However different it may be from mine. I push and I push and I push myself, and here, that just seems like the norm. I don't feel like some alien that doesn't see the value in wearing fleece and flip flops every where, who doesn't just want to be comfortable and content.
I don't want to be content. Not yet. I'm too young to settle for contentment. Right now I still want passion. Sustainable passion, but passion. I still want to be excited about life. And here, I am excited every time I see any of the myriad bridges over the rivers or the lights of the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building. Or when the bakery I'm working at gets mentioned in the New York Times. (Umm, the Carnival Blondie and Butterfinger Gelato are totally ALL ME. How frakking cool is that?! No, I don't have any modesty, I'm a chef, modesty gets you nowhere in this industry.)
In the back of a cab with a friend a couple of month's ago, going over the Pulaski Bridge, he stopped me mid sentence,
"I'm sorry, but just look at the skyline. It's amazing. Isn't it amazing?"
"Yeah, yeah it really is"
And I didn't care in the slightest that he had interrupted me, because I was just so excited that somebody else was that awestruck by this city. I don't even remember what were talking about before that. I just remember that it made me incredibly happy and really want to kiss him.
(fine, I was a little drunk)
(fine, yeah, I probably kissed him)
(But I would've felt and done that same things sober)
(Shut up, I've been really good at not being a drunken floozy lately! Really good.)
And that's it. It's magic, this city, for me. It's keeping a girl with perpetual wanderlust happier than a clam. It's sending me to bed exhausted and sometimes cranky and achy, but fulfilled.
Yes, there's still more that I want out of life, but right now, this is good. This is the right place, at the right moment. This fits. I fit.