Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ring Out the Old!

Ring in the New!
Happy New Year Conga

This morning I arrived moody and upset at the airport after spending a hellish red-eye flight next to Neanderthal man and his lesser-half child bride. I was already a little homesick. I know that with my family in Utah instead of Hawaii and my brother working for Delta that I get to see them much more than any other time in my adult life, but the drama queen in me likes to wonder "When will we meet again?!"

I hailed a cab from the curb of JFK. Stepping into the familiar yellow taxi I shook out my
snow covered scarf. We left Queens, keeping to Atlantic Avenue in a wild flurry of snow that blanketed everything in sight. I couldn't help but feel a deep satisfaction and calm wash over me as we made our way into Brooklyn. When we turned on Court Street and I felt my neighborhood get closer, that familiar warmth of belonging made my pulse quicken in excitement. I hadn't been out of the cab long enough to grab my suitcase when the grocer from the fruit market across the street yelled out "Ahhhhh Happy New Year Miss Amber!!!!" I lugged my "way over-sized" luggage up to my third floor apartment. At the top of the stairs it hit me, we're at the end of a decade! I hadn't really put it together yet. I took a moment to reflect on the past. I was senior at Kahuku High this time ten years ago. Now I am here. (picture a big red x on a map of awesome)

I CANNOT wait to kick 2009 to the curb, let's be honest, it's been seven kinds of lame. At the same time, I smile so broadly on the the last decade.

Ten years ago I rang in the decade of double zeros with my family, Pacific Ocean side. I distinctly remember chasing my twelve-year-old sister down a sandy stretch of beach with a sparkler held aloft.

at that point in my life
  • I hadn't ever spent a night completely alone.
  • I didn't know what it felt like to have friends that are like family.
  • I'd never been in love.
  • I'd never swam in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • I didn't comprehend how a computer could do anything but hinder you as an artist.
  • I had absolutely no idea how anyone could stand talk radio.
  • I swam faster than I walked.
  • My skin was about ten shades darker.
  • I wanted to be a full-time animator.
  • I hadn't lost anyone close to me.
  • I hadn't graduated from high school.
  • I was more interested in biology than I was in any other subject in school, including art.
  • I had in no way embraced my inner-nerd. I spat at her, embarrassed when she showed her 'glasses-face'.
  • I had no idea how to walk in heels.
  • I was torn, wondering whether Blink 182 or Weezer was the best band of all time.
  • I didn't know how to ask for what I really wanted.
  • I was often paralyzed by my fear of the unknown.
  • I didn't know how to stand up for myself.
  • I trusted so easily.
  • I wouldn't ever guess that I'd live for tough contract negotiation or that I'd thrill at the challenges that come with new clients.
  • I didn't have an identity or a style as an artist - I was fairly sure I wouldn't ever find one.
  • I was terrified at the idea of disappointing my family and my community.
  • I hadn't yet made the decision of Brooklyn's Pratt Institute over Valincia's Cal Arts.
  • I was sure I that no matter my choice, I would want to work for a huge company in California as an animator after I graduated from college.
I had no idea that a decade later I'd be in love with my life, confident in who I am as an artist and an individual. How could I know that I'd be thriving, making a living as an artist in New York City? I didn't know that I'd have so many rich experiences or that I'd live through so many hard lessons. I didn't know that I would have so many people in my life who make living fun, exciting, challenging and oh-so-rewarding. Who could know that I'd love Brooklyn as much as I loved my sprawling white-sand "back yard"? When I'm here, I am home, my soul knows it.

I wish I could go back there for just a moment and really see my seventeen-year-old self. I know how scared she was and how worried she was that she couldn't make it in this big world. I know how terrified she was to leave her family all the way across the country. She loved where she was but she needed to go somewhere new. She wondered if it was a mistake to fly off to a totally new existence in a far off place where she knew nothing and no one. She wondered how New York could be the right choice. How could you ever feel at home somewhere so big and urban? Plus, what if she didn't make any friends? What if college at an art school was as hellish as high school had been? What if she wasn't even that great an artist? What if she couldn't do it?

I'd go back and hold her hand and tell her that she was in for such an 'effing-fantastic adventure. I wish I could let her know that in ten years time, at twenty-seven, she wouldn't change a thing about the path she'd taken. It's been a Robert Frost journey. I wish she would know not to care when people tell her she's throwing away huge opportunities. Then she wouldn't be so nervous when she turned some things down for other chances that just "feel right". I wish I could let her know that broken hearts mend, that career crises subside and that the people who matter most are the people who let you be yourself. Most of all I wish she knew that New Year's Eve 2009 would find her shimmying into something fancy and scrubbing India Ink from under her nails before running out into the night full of glee and anticipation for everything that is coming now, without a smidgen of worry. Then she'd know that it's a wonderful life and that everything works out the way it's supposed to. I wish she knew she'd be giddy about staring down a New Year, excited to get started on a new decade, "a new day with no mistakes in it yet."

Happy New Year, my loves. I hope it finds you and everything you love, healthy, happy and ready to pop the cork on a bright new future. Let's see what the next ten years brings us, shall we?

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

listening to right this second: "run" -- snow patrol


Pam said...

"Hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say" and a Happy New Decade too!

Jen said...

Ah man. Lovely, just lovely. I can't believe it's the end of a decade. I didn't think of that either! I loved reading this and taking a trip down Amber's memory lane. You are a gem, a shiny sparkly gem, that when I look at it, it makes me happy.

Kristen said...

Beautiful. I loved that girl with less confidence, but think the path you have taken has turned you into something spectacular. Happy New Decade to an off-the-charts artist and wonderful friend.

Beth L said...

Happy New Year to you girl - and I have to say that I am pretty happy that you chose the grassier path (that day in the yellow wood, and all) and are not now some nerd-suppressed Californian (no offense to nerd-suppressed Californians out there, it's just Amber I'm talking about here) pumping all that fabulous talent into someone else's vision as an art slave for the Mouse. Although I'm fairly certain as a CA girl you would have still learned to walk in heels, but most likely I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to know you myself even though you'd only be 2 states away, and I dig that (knowing you myself that is).
Here's to 7 kinds of wonderfulness in 2010 (I believe that's 14 steps upward from dumb old 09 but we can handle it) and ... welcome home Miss Amber.


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