I’m in a Via on the LES, a block away from the AirBNB I stayed at for a few nights in June 2018. I remember my flight had gotten in late and Dan had run across town to get my key, one arm in a cast and the other hand in some weird contraption because he’d crashed while racing a car.
I think I slept at the AirBNB during the day and partied all night, when I wasn’t at Dan’s or the pier at the end of Christopher Street or The Standard for that one night. How much has my life changed since then? How much have I gone through that this city is now so familiar? Did I struggle to grow or did I grow inspite of loving the struggle a little too much? And why did I think that the two go hand in hand?
I went to Caveat tonight to see Michael’s Asa do readings as part of this podcast party tonight. I was tired from staying up til 8 a.m. this morning. I’ve been seeing the wrong side of too many sunrises lately. But last night was spent in this incredible loft in DUMBO with a cute and introspective Mexican. He might have been too deep for me. Or maybe we just placed different values on joy. He told me he was not fun. He didn’t lie. That view though.
I’m tired and feeling weak. It took every ounce of strength I had to move to NYC. I knew it was going to be a marathon living here and accomplishing the things I set out to do. But there are days where I’ve committed way too much to energy to impediments, and I get lost in the muck and the mire. Sometimes hearing from a friend in Tucson that I am missed is enough to make me want to bury my head under my pillow from the shame I feel for moving out here without any demonstrable goal or accomplishment.
Cut to tonight. I didn’t know what exactly to expect. It was hilarious. Pat, a comic, did a great set. And Mike, the host of the podcast is a consummate performer. I went out for a smoke halfway through the show and missed a woman named Elana Kilkenny get up. But I’d talked to her for a second before the show. She had this presence that made me back up. Something was going on with her that made me want to give her room.
After the show I went to say bye to Michael, but he was otherwise occupied. Face to face with Elana for the second time, I introduced myself. She asked for my full name. “Veneranda. It means ‘worshipped one.’ It’s a lot to live up to.”
She said it was beautiful and that maybe it wasn’t something to live up to, but something I already was and that I just had to be it. Honestly, I’m not doing her justice. She was charismatic and grounded but I’m running on fumes and I just want to get this down.
I told her that I feel like growth comes from struggle. From being uncomfortable. That my toast is, “May there always be a pebble in your shoe.” She said it was time to put that narrative away. I didn’t need the struggle anymore. My growth could come with ease now. It won’t always be without struggle. But the two are not inextricably linked. And this is where I choked up. Because the Mexican said the exact same thing last night, in so many words.
She told me to embrace my gifts, starting with my name. Not easily done when no one is particularly worshipping me. I said it would be a challenge. She said to stop putting things in terms of the struggle.
I don’t know where the fuck I’m going with this. But I know there were things I needed to hear. I’m open. I’m ready. Deep breaths. Baby steps. Get out of my own head. Looking back on how far I’ve come from last summer should be enough empirical evidence to tell me that I’ve got this.
Imagine if my parents had named my Jane instead!