In Manhattan, and perhaps especially this past year, September comes as a relief from sweltering August and its smother-you humidity. Manhattan is city where humidity gathers in pockets; walk down into a subway platform and you’ll know the feeling instantly as oppression wraps around your head. It truly can be that bad, especially when you consider the smell and the tangibility of it.
I’ve heard this summer has been the hottest on record in a ridiculous number of years. No source there, though, besides walking outside, which I think I’ve done enough of to say, brother, if it ain’t, it’s got to be close. This past summer has been the sort that makes me want to invite climate-change deniers to my apartment, where I’d plan to shut off my window-box air conditioner units except that might be construed as cruel and unusual punishment.
This time last year, I was a month into comeback. This time this year, I feel like I’ve made Manhattan home.
Two years ago, while I was living in Denver, I wrote about working at Young & Rubicam with September Reynolds. I think of her every year and always wonder how she’s been. I should probably Facebook her or something. She’s probably around.
It’s interesting to revisit that post, to see where I was then (I remember that post. I can picture where I was when I wrote it. One day I’ll tell that story), but also to read the . . . is it sadness permeating it?
It may be. “Sadness” may be overstating it. I’m sure melancholy does, as well, but I’m certain, also, both words fit the spirit of the thing.
I think it may be most interesting because I don’t feel that right now. I read that I thought about around this time when wondering what my life could have or would have been, and suddenly I realize that I’m not wondering that right now.
Right now, in fact, I’m enjoying what my life is while trying to make it what it could be.
At times, during the past, I’ve wondered. What would have happened if I’d gone through with med school, become Dr. Entrekin, MD, etc. How many lives would I have saved (and, perhaps, failed to)? How many patients would I have treated?
If I had stayed on at Young & Rubicam, how many commercials might I have produced, and for what products?
I didn’t, of course. This year, this September, I’m looking around and thinking about what I did, the path I’ve made. Which has been full of mistakes, missteps, and misadventures every bit as much as achievements, but the thing about all of them has been that they’ve been mine. I’ve made them honestly, and genuinely. I’ve earned them. I’ve learned a lot from earning them, too, some lessons painful and some more rewarding.
I think I’ve known, at some level, for the past decade, that coming back to Manhattan wouldn’t be a destination but rather part of a journey. I think I knew that I would return but once again not stay.
I’ve come to believe part of what made leaving so hard before was that I didn’t leave for any real reason. On the morning of September 11th, I looked around at my City in a state of shock and felt the same way about my life. I realized that I wanted more from life, but I also wasn’t quite sure what. I’m not sure it was a mistake to leave when I did. Maybe I couldn’t have known better. I left for the house in which I’d grown up, and I stayed with my parents for almost five years. When I got a job editing, I woke up to get dressed for it in the same bedroom in which I’d once woken up to get dressed to go to high school.
I was, in a way, running away from something.
Took five years for me to realize that illusion of safety and security for what it was, five years to realize it was time for me to return to school. Get serious about this writing thing, if I really planned to do it. Get serious about getting better at it, too.
So I did. And when I pulled out of that driveway, I was driving toward something. Toward the sunset, toward the Golden coast, toward a new life in a new city thousands of miles from anything I’d ever known.
I’ve spent these past few years running toward things. Toward LA, toward Denver, toward Manhattan. One of the things that made me leave Denver in the first place was realizing it was time to come back here.
And here I am.
Manhattan’s beautiful, and she’s always treated me right.
Of course, now that I’ve come here, now that I’m content here, I’m eying what comes next. My life has in the past few years been a series of reaching goals and finding new ones, and this one has been no different.
Someday, I’ll be leaving Manhattan again. There are yet more steps in my journey. But when I take them, they will seek a new horizon, rather than refuge from the new and painful absence of one.