My Big Break…down

I have four full days left in New York before I fly home- July 28th, meaning I was here exactly 3 months.

And that’s enough for me…for now anyways.

I realized that July 28th has been a travel day for me for the past two years, last year I was frantically scrambling to get out of my Louisville apartment to drive about 12 hours to New Jersey- thank heavens my best friend Katie made me some mix c.d.’s- all I remember from that drive is screaming my head off to a Florence and the Machine song while staring at the back of an orange Penske truck my dad was driving.

I remember feeling really optimistic about the move that year.  I had a spot with a company, so I was definitely going to be dancing. This year, not su much. But I’m ok with that. I think my chances of getting to dance in Saint Louis are far greater than they are here in New York. Not to say I’ll actually be performing anywhere, I may just be taking class- but that’s mostly what I’ve been doing here, if that. Most of the time I’m too exhuasted from paying a 860 rent and working as a cocktail waitress until 3 or 4 in the morning to get up ang go to class. In Saint Louis at least the classes are cheaper and far easier to get to. It’s an hour journey to get from my apartment to Steps, whereas it’s 15 minutes in an air conditioned car in stl.

I think it’s great that some people can come here and tough it out until they get their big break, or whatever it is they are searching for. I had a moment yesterday where I wondered if maybe I should just try to stay a little longer, there is no way I’m going to book a broadway tour if I go back to the midwest. But then, let’s face it, I’m not going to book a tour if I’m not going to class and training. I went to an audition for the tour of Phantom of the Opera and was shocked with how well I did. Not to say I was good at all, but not a compelte disaster especailly considering I haven’t had my pointe shoes on in seven months. At the end of the audition they said, ‘thanks so much, we aren’t hiring now we just want to pile together a list of names to contact in case someone drops out’. My Mom says that’s pretty normal. I just don’t want to waste any more of my life saying ‘tomorrow I’ll go to class, I just have to serve drinks to these jerks all night, and then I’ll have money for class’- and waste any more time making easy moeny and no progress towards anything I really want to do, which is dance and choreograph.

The deciding moment came for me last sunday. I was supposed to go to the beach with katie- first problem, I overslept. Surprise surprise. I worked on Friday until about 5, so my body didn’t want to go to sleep at a normal time the next night either, and the plan to meet up in Brooklyn at 10:30 didn’t exactly happen. I didn’t even wake up until 11;15/ So I slathered myself in sunscreen (I learned my lesson from 4th of July at the Chelsea Pier..ouch. I looked like I had leprosy in my peeling, red cleavage) and walked the few blocks to the e train, which was of course, not running. So I decided I would take the 6 downtown and transfer near chinatown to the a which would take me into brooklyn. Except that there were no a’s running into brooklyn, they were running on the f line or something so I would have had to go to the West Village to then go back east. Ridiculous. By the time I had already spent 3 hours trying to just get out of Manhattan I decided to give up. So I came back home to 51st street where I decided to go sit in BArnes and NObles to be in air conditioning at least, and while on my way I called my Mom.

The poor tourists- just trying to soak up the sun and the city and there’s some sobbing girl standing on the corner smelling like banana boat, sweat, and frsutration blubbering into the phone about how miuserable she is. Some old man even gave me a pat me on the shoulder and said, ‘it’s all right’- too true, oldie. It IS alright. It was a stroke of luck that I called when I did, apparently someone had just come to look at my car and was interested in buying it. I took a few hours to yes, I’m a dork- write out a pro’s and cons list of being in NY- and for me, the deck was heavily stacked in the cons favor. I have a friend, Elena,

Congrats Elena! Steven Mills would be so proud! (not that he'd show it!)

who has been in NY for w hile now, I met her during a summer at Ballet Austin, and she is now joining charleston Ballet Company. So there are people here who can stay in shape well enough to get those jobs while working here. I don’t think I am one of those people. Everyone has a level of what they need to do to stay in shape as a dancer. For me, I like to stretch for at least fifteen minutes before class starts. My best friend from college, Emily, could walk in two seconds before class started, not do a single stretch and put her leg up by her face. Some people are just built that way. I also feel like I need more than class one or two times a week to stay strong. I hate the main form of my exercize comes from climbing 6 flights of stairs to get to my apartment or running to catch trains. I don’t mean to sound high maintenance, but I’ve realized that I don’t think I can make it work in New York, and being here isn’t worth it to me. Even if I’m not dancing in Saint Louis, I will be able to take better care of myself- plus all the other perks like air conditioning, the potential to save money, and my bed- I haven’t slept in a bed since April 28th. It’s been a broken air matress, a broken futon, a bed frame, and a loveseat since my last day of mattress luxury.

home sweet home

I’m glad I came. I am glad I tried. I am glad that I learned I want to dance more than I want to write- at least if I don’t get to choose the topic- and I am really glad to be going home. I’m pretty scared that I won’t find ways to have dance in my life at home either, since I will have to pay for classes there, but I think it’s easier to make good decision that I know I will feel good about even if it means spending money, when you feel healthy and good. Even if means choreographing stuff myself and putting on a show in my church dining room for my parents friends, I would rather do that than dream about dance all day and go serve drinks to strangers.

I asked my Mom if she thought I was a New York Failure- and she said she had roughly the same experience back when she was performing. She came to New York. got a tour, rehearsed for a month, decided she didn’t like New York, ended up not liking the tour either and moving on. And moving on is exactly what I’m doing. Onward and upward! well, I guess more southward and westward…back to the midwest anyways.

I’m not going to wait to feel better to find my big break and while I will miss some of the people here in New York, I honestly won’t miss much else.

“Tonight I’ll sing my songs, I’ll play the game, and pretend,

but all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity” (more Simon and Garfunkle, sorry I need other musical inspirations!)

Tonight is my last night as a cocktail waitress- and hopefully the last blog I’ll have ranting about New York.  Before I moved here, my Dad gave me a book entitled, ‘An artists survival guide to New York’. If you need a survival guide, I think it’s probably not the city for me. I can’t wait to go home and start whatever is next for me.

6 thoughts on “My Big Break…down

  1. And we can’t wait to have you back home. We admire your courage, both for moving TO New York and also for deciding it’s in your best interest to now move FROM New York.

    • I agree with your dad! It takes real courage to know and DO what’s best for you! We’ll have to hang out when you get back! Have a safe trip!

  2. The picture of your home sweet home is pathetic. How could anyone be happy there? I think the concentration camp victims had it nearly as good.

    Figuring out what makes you happy and where you want your life to go is a hard thing to do in life, especially because we get ideas in our heads of what she should want to do. Quitting dance was like that for me, I felt like maybe I should give it a longer chance and try to get my big break, thinking that eventually it might be what I’ve been looking for. It took more strength to actually admit it would never bring me what I needed, and to walk away. Now it literally has been a year since I have been in a ballet studio (I did some teaching last july) and my life has changed drastically, but I don’t look back and wonder if I made the right choice. Don’t get me wronge, I still think about dance and sometimes take a quick visit back there (in my dining room), just like you may want to visit NY, but happiness is somewhere else now.

  3. It will be wonderful to have you at home again — at least until your next adventure. New York will always be there if you decide to go back some day. Wherever your next steps take you, I hope you have a better bed and a refrigerator!! (Shows my priorities, doesn’t it?)

    • So, I’m late to the party BUT, I, for one, am glad you’re coming back to the Midwest! Perhaps I’ll see you in a few weeks when you get settled in?

      Have a safe trip!

  4. Pingback: Ikea Nutcracker Party Scene Dolls | BODIES NEVER LIE

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