Today, I quit my job and bought a book of poetry and went home to listen to Tom Petty and eat ice cream. Before all that, I was terrified. My ears turned bright red, and I tried not to vomit. I sat at my desk from 9am to 7pm without opening a single email. I didn’t update the calendar. I forgot that someone was supposed to come in for a meeting with my boss. I was too focused on the words, “I’d like to put in my two weeks, please.”
I like to think that all employers always see you leaving as a simple business transaction. That I was here, and now I’m not, and that there will be a lot of generic assistants that cycle through for the rest of eternity. I like to think it isn’t personal. But it is. It’s like a break up. Its saying, “I know you tried, I know I tried, but I just don’t want to try with you anymore.”
I quit my job. It’s hard to say that without feeling like a failure. It’s hard to say, “I chose wrong.” It’s hard to say, “I’m sorry I wasted your money on film school, Mom.” It’s hard to say, “I don’t want to contribute any longer to the depletion of American brain cells by continuing to produce reality television.”
New York isn’t the same as it used to be. It used to be a friendly place for artists. It used to be a place where Lou Reed or Andy Warhol could pay $400 a month to rent an apartment with exposed brick on the Lower East Side. It used to be a place where William S. Burroughs could shoot a bunch of junk into his arm and write a great American novel. It used to be the only place where Zelda Fitzgerald didn’t seem all that crazy.
Now, New York is a place that demands absolute perfection. In 2014, you can’t bounce around until you find something that you love. You have to know what you want when you graduate Kindergarten and start working towards that goal immediately. There’s no messing around. You can’t try something out to see if you like it, you can’t experiment with different aspects of your passion. You have to know all the way down in your bones exactly what you want, and there’s no room for error. New York is a place where you have to get it right the first time.
But I’d like to believe that maybe somewhere, there’s a small part of that old New York magic that still exists. That maybe if we fight long enough and refuse to fall asleep, we’ll find it buried beneath the humming, glowing concrete. Maybe being adaptable is the best thing you can be. Maybe I won’t give up and move somewhere else, where things are a little warmer and a whole lot easier. Maybe the months I spent surviving on dollar pizza and folding crop tops will not be in vain.
But I don’t know. None of us really know, do we? The only thing I know for certain, is that Tom Petty is great and so is poetry and so is ice cream.
And so is having the cojones to quit my job.