I Played With Fire And I Didn’t Get Burned (Or Why You Should Take Risks)

I’m always catching on fire—with a figurative or metaphorical ambiance.  I think fire has it out for me—and not the Captain Planet pseudo-superhero who fags it up with the rest of the lot, but legit, burning, flaming, blue and white and golden-hued fire. Aside from one minor misjudgment in my pre-teen years…

I remember being a dumb and bored middle-schooler and lighting a bunch of paper and dead leaves on fire in a bucket inside my best friend’s garage.  There was no sane reason for this; I really do wonder how I managed to survive adolescence without becoming a multiple amputee.  Needless to say, one should not light buckets on fire. Especially when those buckets are made of plastic.

I have a tendency to ‘play with fire’ when it comes to taking risks or chances or just leaping with no ground in sight. I’m not sure where it stems from given my classic-white-bread-suburb upbringing, but maybe we can pretend I am purposely trying to ‘rebel.’ When everyone around me had small scale plans of sticking close to home and following suit with the stale-can dreams of new urbanism, I was lighting my chances aflame and pissing in the wind.

To put it tangibly: I decided on a lazy Tuesday I was moving to New York from the grasslands of retirement (aka: Florida) and by Thursday had made my way into a job, an apartment and a faux stable situation that would get me as far as I needed to for the time being.  The upside being it somehow worked out, and I’m still in New York.  The downside: living in a virtually uninhabitable basement in New Jersey with an insane roommate with questionable hygiene habits.

So I made some sacrifices. Eh.

Then there was the time I decided I would sell my soul to the implanted palm tree world of California.  So I quit my job and sold all of my belongings except for what quantified to 3 large suitcases, mostly of clothes and shoes (why would I keep any necessary belongings in lieu of 30 pairs of virtually the same heels?). That risk didn’t quite go as planned, when two days before leaving circumstances arose to keep me in NYC. Besides, my tits are real, I’m as pale as a unicorn, and haven’t a clue how one keeps up with the Kardashians– there was no way I’d fit in there anyway.

I found myself jobless, broke and with a lease that ran out fast enough to be legitimately homeless. Oh fuck.

I applied for unemployment and was denied (or there was so much damned paperwork I never got around to finishing, oops) and then spent the next month sleeping on my friends half couch.  That’s right, no luxury of a legit couch, but something the length of a love seat and shaped like a jelly bean.  After weeks of more than 300 phone calls harassing anywhere hiring, I decided there was nothing left for me to do but call my brother and cry on the floor of my friends bathroom in my underwear (because I was so ashamed of myself I couldn’t be bothered to wear pants). Mid self-loathing, my former boss who had recently switched companies called, and hired me on the spot. A leprechaun must have told him I stuck around.

Then I had about 5 days to find an apartment, sign a lease, and trek my 3 suitcases from dirty Jersey to BK. Somehow, this happened. Pretty sure there were wizards and wand waving and magical superheroes involved, but I don’t want to sound too prim.

There I was being all brave (truly a euphemism for crazy), playing with fire and everything worked out. Whoa now, how did I get this lucky? (Oh right, I must have made that trade with the Gods to be incredibly unlucky in love in return. Fuckers). And I have been majestically enjoying the basic outline of my life since. I am still completely infatuated with New York, I love my job, and my shit-hole apartment (but its rent controlled) and I live with a wonderfully sane, intelligent gay man who cooks.

I’m watching the pieces of my adult life fall together, and even though you could say I’m finding a settling ground in where I am and where I’m going, there’s still plenty risk to be had. I tend to bear my heart on my sleeve and wear my emotions like a charm bracelet—tacked with the obvious scars of my life. I fall hard and solid and strong every day. I found the love of my life… and his psychopathic ex-girlfriend. You could say I’m still playing with fire a lot there.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that maybe we all need to light up a bit more with the pyrotechnics of life. This slightly eschewed rant on my bold (ok, insane) maneuvers was more a kick in the ass character building experience than anything else. But it got me here. Right where I should be. My best word of advice to anyone stuck on the see-saw of choice: do something new, try something different and take a risk going down a road that might just be a dead end. But find out. Because even if the worst happens, you’ll bounce back with the luggage of experience.

Besides, don’t we tend to regret more what we have not done—those missed opportunities and the question of the unknown—more than we do the mistakes we made from taking a risk? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Tom Edgington


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