only i know

Mercifully I have fallen into a daily routine. After rushing to the train, where I endure dense clouds of strangers’ morning breath and fight bicycles for a space to stand, I stop at the brightly lit Asian corner store for cheap coffee before heading upstairs to work. Every day, I straighten my skirt and smooth my blazer as I approach my boss’ desk. “Good morning”, I chirp, my face all teeth and gums as I arrange my skirt again and silently pray that I don’t look inappropriate. In over a month, I have not once worn pants to work. The dress code here is much stricter than any I’ve ever had, and I am not used to being expected to look like an adult.

That evening at dinner, a friend asks why I haven’t pursued a career in the entertainment industry. The question makes me pause, mindlessly twirling forkfuls of chicken pad thai around my fork as I realize that the answer is grossly simple – I’d have to actually try, and my life has always been that of an unmotivated overachiever. Tragically, I have rarely needed to put forth effort into anything, which is not to say that I’ve never failed but rather that I didn’t care when I did. I am too much like my father, clever in all the wrong ways and smart except when it matters. Creative but conservative, flighty but serious, I moved like a bird from one project to the next and succeeded only when the work came easily. Anything that required extensive effort mustn’t, I rationalized, be part of my destiny.

But moving has changed me. Never one before to yield to trifles like enthusiasm, energy, or drive, I am now pushing daily to accomplish something new. Thirty years of apathy are painful to triumph, but when I choose my blazer and blouse each morning I know that I am finally trying. In spite of the troubles I carelessly brought with me, New York is turning into the city of dreams I never knew I had.