As a literary nerd and somewhat structured person, it will come to no surprise when I tell you that I am a huge fan of bookends. Yes, the literal bookends used to keep your library from falling off the shelf; and also the metaphorical bookends used to symbolize the beginning and end of a story in one's life.
On September 10th, 2012, I attended a theater event with several of my closest friends. It was an "Implosion Party" for 13P (which according to their website states: 13P (Thirteen Playwrights, Inc.) was formed in 2003 by 13 mid-career playwrights concerned about what the trend of endless readings and new play development programs was doing to the texture and ambition of new American plays. Together we took matters into our hands, producing one play by each member playwright. We presented our final production in the summer of 2012 and then immediately imploded. This website archives our story.) Several of us had seen some of these plays throughout the years, and we were all greatly excited to see this implosion take place. Before the doors opened at Joe's Pub, we sat outside on the stairs of The Public while snacking on some treats and passing around two coffee thermoses filled with red wine. I remember feeling so happy with everything. It had been two days since I had moved into my new apartment, and I was so proud for finally signing a year lease. There was security in that, and I was beyond excited for what the year would entail.
Our party moved inside Joe's, and we instantly started enjoying the free beer and food. We were sitting around a tall bar table when my phone rang. It was my mom. I didn't answer because of the noise level around us, and let it go to voicemail. She then sent me a text, asking me to give her a call when I could. Something about it didn't feel right, so I took my phone to the stairwell behind the pub and called her back. It was there, as I sat down on a cold cement step that my mom told me about my dad's diagnosis. They had just gotten back the results, and it was definite he was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's/dementia. I remember feeling so incredibly numb, and flashing back to the time I had to share my worst fear to a class I was assisting in Brooklyn. I told them the number one thing I was scared of was that my parents would lose their memory.
I sat there, on that step for several minutes in silence, trying to process everything my mom told me. Trying to gather the strength to go back inside and join my friends. I thought about just leaving, just going home, but my room didn't have a wall installed at that time. Along with that, my roommate's four friends were sleeping in our living room, so there was literally no privacy waiting for me there. And all I wanted to do was bawl my eyes out. Instead, I took a deep breath and sat back down with my friends. I tried to pretend my world didn't just come crashing down, but I'm not very good at hiding my feelings. Several beers later, we were listening to the song "I'm Going to Die" by Young Jean Lee, and I could hardly breathe. I had seen her perform that song several times before, but the eminent feeling of death felt too real for me at that moment. The rest of the performances were a blur, but somehow I ended up on a friend's couch, where I was able to let everything out that I was feeling.
Within this past year, I have held onto those emotions, with my claws dug deep inside them, unable to let go of the fear I felt that night. I have shared several of those feelings in previous blog posts, and am very open with this journey I've taken. By taking a break from theater, to questioning my attitude with life, I have reached the end of this chapter with a little more smarts and great deal more strength than I had at the beginning. What I haven't gone into detail yet is how much I've been wanting to move back to California. This was even before my dad's diagnosis, feeling somewhat defeated by the city I had originally loved so much.
Last September I even made a pact with myself and my parents. I told them, "let's see where things are in a year, and if it's necessary for me to move home, I will." Even after saying that, I began looking for jobs on the west coast. I had several good leads, but nothing seemed to work out. I grew more and more frustrated with everything, and began to blame New York for keeping me away from my family. I became resentful and angry, and felt very lost in the direction my life was heading.
Eventually, I stopped trying so hard. I stopped beating myself up for everything that wasn't going my way. And I found faith that things would turn out however they were going to turn out. Then something amazing happened.
While on a business trip to Los Angeles a couple months ago, I received word from my college counselor that he had recommended me for a new position at a film and theater institute based in Southern California. I found it very coincidental that I was in LA at the time of receiving that, but wasn't able to touch base until I was back in New York. I connected with several people at the institute and had a series of interviews over the course of three to four weeks. My gut was telling me to hold strong to this, and that something was going to work out. So I didn't sign a new lease come September. I moved in with my two roommates into their two bedroom apartment, and put the majority of my belongings into storage. My faith remained strong.
Last Tuesday I had a feeling I would definitely know what my future was going to entail. The day pressed on into the evening and I started to feel a little doubtful. I called my parents for some reassurance, and proceeded to distract myself by playing with my roommate's two dogs. No more than twenty minutes after I hung up with my parents I received another call. I knew what was coming and braced myself for all the possibilities. I answered the phone and within a three minute conversation I had accepted the position. The date was September 10th. Exactly one year from when my dad was diagnosed. Exactly the same time my mom had called me with the news.
This time, it was my turn to call my parents with a life changing announcement. I was bawling (happy tears this time) and could hardly get the words out. "I'm coming home," I told them. "I'm moving back to California."