New York, New York 2.0
Autumn in New York, great chick flick. The movie makes you want to hop a flight to New York City, stroll through Central Park with Richard Gere, and fall in love. But we all know that love like that only happens in the movies.
Yes, I am a bit jaded right now. And I am allowed. One minute the love of my life is proposing to me in paradise and the next his world breaks us to pieces. And when you are twenty-two years old, your world does revolve around you and your first heartbreak is the end of the world as you know it.
Thanks to my friends and family, I can pick up the pieces of me that I manage to find and pull myself back together. After graduation, I immersed myself in my dad’s bar life.
My dad, Phil Perotti married my mom, Nonna Perotti after falling in love with her when she performed at a bar he was working at. Once they were married they opened their own bar and had me.
Pouring drinks and listening to everyone else’s problems is a great escape. Nights were the hardest. I see how people become alcoholics. Enough scotch puts even the most broken to sleep. Stella, my baby sister, demanded a lot of my daylight hours. It was her last summer before starting college and my last summer before moving to New York City.
Boss and Mikey, my work family, threw us a big graduation party at Triple Rock. I started working there in my Sophomore year. Looking to broaden my social platform, make money to move to New York City after college, and curb my addiction to sex.
The sex addiction was thanks to Benji, my best friend, and first everything, Grateful that we met the second semester of my Freshman year when I changed my major from Dance to Computer Science. Benji taught me Sex 101 and I kept his grades on track. I was proud of myself for moving from anti-social and a-sexual to a great playmate and study partner. Benji wanted to be more of a partner of the traditional sense. Traditional I am not. So when we moved to friends zone my new found elective required new study buddies.
After graduation, Benji’s girlfriend, Amy had to head back to Chicago due to unforeseen family dynamics. He stayed above my dad’s bar to help keep an eye on me and went to see Amy every weekend he could. He started working for this amazing gaming company, a start-up, in Palo Alto so we were a great balance to his nerd life. He had his apartment in Berkeley until the end of summer so most weekends I stayed there so I could keep working at Triple Rock. I was not ready for too much change after Tommy and I broke up. Boss, Mikey, Jojo, and Emily kept me happily in our own La La Land.
The last time I was here I left before the arrival of Autumn. The airport is now filled with young freshmen to be and their too many suitcases. I smile to myself as I remember doing the same. When you are forced to lug all your suitcases up and downstairs because there are no elevators, or if there are, too many people are using them all at once, you learn to downsize.
After a fabulous summer as and inter for Wanderlust: A Dreamer’s Travel Guide here in New York City, my senior year was accented with Thomas Brooks. The love of my life. And my biggest heartbreak. Everyone helped this summer to lock that heartbreak up in a box and bury it deep inside.
Thanks to Benji and Stella, I was finally able to solidify my position at INK Media Group in New York City. The summer before last I interned for Jessica at Wanderlust, the travel magazine that is one of the many publications owned by INK. Now, I get to work for her and get paid.
I feel like such a grown-up, my new job has paid for me to move cross country and put me up in corporate housing until I find a place of my own. My mom, sister, and I would watch Working Girl, which is where my fantasy of living in New York City first started.
Half of my heart is still breaking. I don’t have the time to let that half take over because my new life is moving quickly. I know the consequences of my choice, and it was not an easy decision to make. I was a very passive participant in my unhappiness, maybe had I addressed it all sooner, we could have had more time to work through things.
All my life, I walk away when I am uncomfortable, ignoring the parts that are bad by focusing on the good times. In the last few months, I have been forced to see the ways parts of me slipped away, and how easy it was to just put a smile on my face to fool everyone, including myself. I am Italian, we are supposed to live our emotions. I grew up avoiding my emotions and after Thomas Brooks, I just bury them.
As the carrousel rounds the corner and my suitcases appear, I smile, I am proud of myself for only bringing three suitcases. I figure that moving to New York City, everything I could ever need and want is right here.
Nate is the first person I see as I walk towards the exit. During my internship, I met Nate and we became amazing friends. It’s been a long time since I have seen him in person, I forgot how gorgeous he is. And that smile, it makes you feel like a queen when it’s directed towards you. All the women and men in the waiting area are staring at him. Of course, his eyes are looking for me, this makes me feel even more special.
“Wow, this is it?” Nate teases.
“Yup! It is amazing when you grow up not having much how little you own. On the bright side, it makes moving so easy.”
I gave Stella most of the clothes that she and Tommy ever bought me, only keeping a few select evening wears and a couple of suits and pairs of shoes. Jodi claimed a few for herself since her new job as a teacher did require her to be more dressy than her student life required.
“Well, I am proud of you.”
“For my new attitude or for moving to New York City?”
“All of it. Selfishly I have wanted you here for me, but this city brings out such great and wild energy in you. This will be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You are too serious in California.”
There is still that small part of me that hopes Nate wants me here to grow our love for one another our of friends zone. But there is no way I am ready to move into any zones at this moment. Nate and I seem to have bad timing when it comes to anything beyond a solid friendship.
“You could be correct Mr. Watson, we will see what this city does for me.” I hope Nate is right about what kind of person I am here, “Thank you!”
“For being the best friend I could ever ask for in this moment and for always rescuing me.”
“You did say you wanted a knight in shining armor versus a prince charming.”
Since the first day we met, Nate has been my knight in shining armor. We met at FUBAR and I was definitely fucked up beyond all recognition and Nate got me back safely to the corporate apartment that I was staying at with several other interns. Got me into bed safely and alone, a perfect gentleman. I am almost positive that I tried to get him into bed, but he was too good for a one-night stand, and to this day I am so grateful for his character that night. And for our friendship that has flourished since.
If you were to see him, you would be proud of my self-control. He is as beautiful outside as he is inside. I am a fool for not raping him on the spot, but right now great sex with Mr. GQ is not what I need, I need a friend who gets\ me.
“I will drop you off at your corporate housing and head back to check on my dad. Then I thought we could do dinner and dancing? As I recall, you like dancing on bars.” Nate gives me a wink and nudge.
Nate and I have been talking through the break-up over the last few months so he knows that I am fragile, he also knows me well enough to understand that I really can’t talk about it right now. I am rather impressed with his ability to be Switzerland. Knowing he wanted me in NYC, he also made sure I thought it out as thoroughly as possible.
As much as he didn’t love the idea of me marrying so young, “I just have seen my cousins that married so early and most of them regret it even if they are still in love be with their husbands.”
Nate remained a sounding board and a devil’s advocate and managed to not give his opinion, no matter how often I begged for him to help me to decide. “But if that is what you want, I am here to support you in any way I can. I see how much you love Tommy and anyone who knows you, can understand why he would want to marry you as soon as possible.”
Even now that we are alone, he keeps our conversation light, which means a play-by-play of last night Yankees game and stories about his dad. This is the peace I need. He drives as I stare out the window. The drive from JFK is tedious, very brick, and gray. As you pass through Queens and start to see the city before you, then it becomes surreal. I cannot believe I am going to live here.
Corporate housing is nothing too fancy, a hotel room with a small kitchen, but it is refreshing to me because it is all mine. At what point do we leave the nest and become adults? I can say this is my moment, living on my own is about as adult as it gets. I just hope this move to explore and find myself doesn’t end up with me getting lost in the rat-race that is adulthood.
I start to unpack and get settled, feeling sad and empty as my suitcase stands empty in front of me. As the tears start to build up behind my eyes, my doorbell rings.
“Hiya! I’m Sylvia, your assistant.” I am not listening because I am too busy being in awe of the red-headed beauty in front of me, and with an English accent at that? I may just be bi-sexual, or at least Sylvia makes me consider it.
“Sorry,” I respond, very discombobulated, “Valentina,” I extend for a handshake. Sylvia shakes my hand with a strong grip. Note to self, never get into a fistfight with Sylvia, unless she is on my side.
“Welcome to the big apple!” Says the Brit. “I hope you had a good flight. Here is everything you need to get started,” she hands me a case with a laptop inside, an iPhone and a very large binder. “My number is on your phone, call if you have any questions. And on that note, I will leave you to settle in.”
Just like that, she is in and out, efficient to say the least. Later I learn that she was suffering from a hangover and I was rather lucky to get even that much from her. So, it begins, this encounter should say it all. Even in her worst moment, Sylvia is by my side.
As I unpack the briefcase, there is a note on the binder, “Look in the fridge, reading this binder is better done with champagne.” Yes, Sylvia and I will get along very well.
With my flute in hand, I cozy on my couch and begin reading my boring book on how I will be expected to behave as well as what fabulous benefits this job will hold. The good student comes out of me, I read every line on every page obediently.
Delighted with myself, here is a goal that I can achieve, and achieving goals makes me feel good about myself. After my third glass, I start to feel that prefect buzz and suddenly I am in tears.
Just months ago I cuddled on the couch with my fiancé, and now I am on a couch alone. Alone, by the way, is overrated. I love my space, but to realize that there is no one coming home tonight, I start balling. All the tears that were stuffed down and dried up with tissues of loving distraction. There is no place to shove them this time and no loving distraction. Just the rawness of my nose and burn of my eyes.
I should have listened to Mikey and cried when I had his shoulder to cry on. This reality makes me miss Mikey and a flood of tears gush out of me. The pain in my chest, I can hear a howling, is this me? Am I making this awful noise? I sound like an animal that is dying. I am dying, inside. I can feel every layer of my heart pealing away. The abrasiveness of the vision that now plays over and over again before my eyes. Seeing his hands let go of mine as he runs to his mother. The stabbing in my ears as I hear those awful ladies speak of me, what right did they have? They knew nothing of me. Then Val, why did you let them.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt’s words ringing in my ears. Own your shit, Val! You are hurt because you let them hurt you. You are better than this. You know better than this. But to admit all of this would be to admit that I ran away. I gave up. I didn’t want to deal, so I took my out.
Then on cue, there is a knock on the door; Nate. Saved from my own brutal thoughts. Realizing that I am not alone, I dry my eyes and take a breath. Nate is a gentleman, so he pretends that my eyes are not bloodshot and swollen.
“Nathan’s hotdog and champagne,” dining in was the best idea ever. “I have to confess…”
Before he could finish, I interrupted, “there is a Yankees’ game on tonight.”
“Do you mind?”
“Of course not.” Mindless sports, comfort eating, and numbing are exactly what the doctor ordered.
“WOW! Nice television you got here. My dad and I may have to watch our games from your place from now on.” Nate’s way of telling me that I am not alone; I have him and his clan. As we cuddle on the couch and scream at the television together, all my buried emotions are back in their grave.