There are things you do for love and things you do because an authority figure tells you to do so.
And every once and again, you get to do something selfish; a moment that makes all the other moments bearable.
On Aug. 6, 2010, I quit my day job.
And am moving to New York.
The idea is to spend a year writing, without the daily grind of working for a metro newspaper. Friends have asked if that book inside me finally comes out of this. Let’s be hopeful, but what I’m really looking to do is write a couple of decent short stories that find publication.
This is one of the most selfish things I’ve ever done. Quitting a good job in a great newsroom is no small task. Especially when the nation’s unemployment rate is stuck at 9.5 percent and there are people clamoring for jobs.
I need to do this for myself. But it’s also part of a promise I made my dad before he died of cancer last September.
“Go do something with some of my money,” he said.
I’m 47 years old. I have no wife, no children, no mortgage, no debt. The lease on my loft is up in September. My dog, Trinity? She will travel with me and will become an urban dog.
In arguably the greatest city on the planet.
Soon, I will pack up my stuff, pare my life down again, and put most of it in storage. I’ll wait for my friend and future roommate, Q, to come pick me up in a yellow Ryder truck.
And I’ll be in New York, probably Brooklyn, by Oct. 1.
There are two questions I get most often: “Aren’t you scared?” and “Do you have a job?”
With pop’s generosity, I have enough money to live in the city for a year, I’ve made a sensible budget. But yes, I will have to work. This isn’t a case of blowing pop’s entire inheritance, being the playboy of Manhattan. My parents taught me to be my own person; they also taught me to be frugal. In fact, later this month, I’ll be writing Edward D. Jones a rather large check for my retirement.
I have set up a couple of freelance agreements, handshakes at this point, and have a couple of nonprofits that need my help. And whether I become a nanny or a dog walker – or most likely a handyman, as I’ve already have contacts to do just that – I will get to donate several hours to sitting at the laptop writing and being out in New York observing, picking through sparks of inspiration that the city brings out naturally.
Admittedly, this decision isn’t for everyone. I get blank stares. I overhear conversations.
When I proposed my plans to my siblings, I braced for impact.
They got it.
“I’m really glad you’re going to go follow your dreams,” my brother wrote in an email. “Mom and dad would be so proud of you.”
“I am so excited for you,” Third Sister said. “It’s totally something you would do.”
Over sushi recently, I laid out my plans to First Sister, with whom I have a very close bond. I talked with my hands, chopsticks pointing here and there, and she stopped my and lifted her glass of wine.
“You’re going to be just fine in New York,” she said. “You’re going to be a success.”
That’s yet to be seen.
But I’ve got a whole year to be selfish.
And figure it out.