It’s 8pm on a Friday night, and I’m jonesing to make a smooth escape from the cubicle where I’ve spent the entirety of my workweek, flexing and unfurling my lower limbs in the same manner that a meth addict does when she’s patently itching for a stockpile of smack.
At 8:o7pm, exactly, my boss retrieves his briefcase and careens through the secure glass doors that divide us – the newsroom: a small, if not eclectic, group of producers, reporters, and tech gurus – from the city that’s unleashing its rush hour based rigor twenty stories below.
As the resident underachiever of the group, it’s inherently understood that I’ll be the first to leave for the night. Despite the fact that the minimum base fare of an Uber ‘X’ has surged to something that equates to what a substantial percentage of Americans — outside of the New York major metropolitan area — pay in property taxes, I make a heated beeline to the nearest black car and enjoy a cushy ride back to my apartment on the East Side.
There’s a theory that’s not often discussed – probably because it exists solely within the recesses of my own mind – that suggests that nobody in New York, with the exception of parents and/or a small fraction of the resident elderly population, puts forth a particularly compelling effort to establish any semblance of a robust savings account.
I’m producing content for MSNBC, and for a long while, I’m completely enamored with the act of being part of the largest media market in North America; at twenty-five years old, I’m fulfilling my dream of playing in the the majors. But unsurprisingly, the days are arduous and exhaustive and my shoots can be as physically taxing as they are emotionally jarring. As such, I quickly realize that I’m willing to forego things like heat and electricity in exchange for espresso laden venti iced coffees and a few extra minutes of sleep propagated by the aid of a bi-daily Uber ride.
By 9:15 pm, Caroline, my best friend, arrives at my doorstep. Fresh off the heels of what appears to be a grueling therapy session, I immediately detect familiar shadows of my own demeanor in her overwrought, tense expression. Together, we meander onto the small, concrete terrace that’s directly outside of my bedroom window, and with a blue bottle of cheap Moscato in tote, commence a candid dialogue about the fact that we’re both terrified of everything.
Caroline is a true genius – not the obnoxious kind who consistently mentions “Harvard this, Harvard that” — but the kind whose passions and predilections are so genuinely out of sync with her physical appearance that she herself becomes an object of fascination to the world at large.
Sitting on the 2×4 slab of concrete that is my terrace, with the New York skyline standing prostrate in front of us, as if to ask, aggressively, acerbically, “Oh, you thought this would be easy?” we resemble two characters in the center of an utterly tragic Lana Del Ray video. Beneath the full moon, we’re lounging on the floor, sipping white carbonated wine and obsessing over the idea that all of our worst fears could so easily come to fruition, obliterating our pre-constructed life plans and rendering us perpetually alone and wholly unfulfilled.
We talk about our careers and wonder if we’ll end up intellectually underwhelmed and eternally destitute. And what about our relationship statuses? Tonight, I’ve successfully managed to convince myself that my boyfriend, the love of my adult life (and my now fiancé), will disappear into oblivion via a Joe Jonas like breakup text. Failing to find a partner to spend forever with seems like a tragedy of sorts, but I make absolutely certain to remind myself of the fact that it’ll be ten times more horrific to finally feel something this poignant and then to watch it all slip away.
We take turns analyzing the potential root causes of our wide spanning list of anxieties and try to decipher what our respective purposes on the planet ought to be. It’s a lot to tackle for two young girls on a Friday night, especially while readying ourselves to go downtown for an evening of…fun. But with each free floating anxiety that we ruminate over, ultimately, we end up laughing so voraciously at our own melodramatic musings that I literally have to beg Caroline to “shut up!” because eyeliner is now dripping off of my face, and, per usual, we’re running late. I grab her metallic gold YSL tribute heels and she pulls an outfit from somewhere in my closet. We leave.
Truth be told, some of our fears are entirely valid: they’re far more deeply rooted than the surface level stuff that we’re touching upon in conversation. Caroline knows my darkest demons. But she’s also aware of the fact that my rational side, the one that allows me to function on a day day to basis, is still firmly in tact, and that while a bout of situational anxiety might’ve reared its icky, foundation free face for a moment, it’s actually unbelievably cathartic for both of us to let it out.
I understand certain things about Caroline, as well. I recognize what people consistently expect her to be – a leggy blonde girl with Kennedy-esque Massachusetts based roots and messy hair that always falls perfectly into place (proverbial eye roll, ensue). Both of us are well aware of the fact that lots of people don’t have particularly kind things to say about us, but we’ve stopped caring about baseless assumptions and personal insults. There’s no time for that anymore. New York feels like a microcosm of social darwinism at play, and we’re primarily focused on surviving in the new maze that’s become our adult lives. While I recognize that Cara is decidedly a well coiffed glamor puss and a ridiculously talented stylist to some of the greatest talents of our time, to boot, I also know that she’s a scientifically and mathematically driven engineer before she is anything else, that she n-e-v-e-r utters a negative word about anyone (a seemingly impossible feat that I’m working on being able to lay claim to myself), and that, regardless of any of her fears, she’ll always be OK.
I project onto her life a mirror of sorts, a luminous window into a complex mind and an old soul. She, in turn, does the same for me.
And now, a couple of years into our respective journeys in New York, when we worry, we don’t run towards the darkest parts of our psyches, but instead, we go out into the city, the one that’s shown us how resilient we really are, and if nothing else, we’re finally free.