Don't Marry A Bum
This last winter was an especially tough one. Not only was the weather brutal—derailing and causing trains to lose power (forcing me to explore lower Manhattan and find new routes to work), and later turning the streets of New York into the canals of Venice (converting this lovely island into an iceberg hopscotch game that only the long-legged or rain-boot-wearing could win)—but my god, did it also take its toll emotionally.
I spent far too much time alone those six months, going over every single decision I’ve made over the last 24 years. Not that that’s anything new; I’ve been known to take some time off in the pursuit of a slightly more restful soul. But this winter the feeling that I should have way more put together in my life than I do right now was exponentially amplified. Usually I can talk myself into realizing how ridiculous of a notion that is at this age, in this world. I like to think I know deep down that the loving relationship, the killer career, and the financial stability are all on their way, as long as I keep putting in 110%. Karma’s a real thing, right? For some reason though, I’ve been having a harder time convincing myself of those things lately. So when the weather finally started to break and the temperature rose above freezing, I found myself practically sprinting to Central Park to soak up some much needed vitamin D and attempt to clear my head.
“I’m just going to sit here and work on my tan with this fine young lady.”
I open my eyes and slowly turn my head, expecting to come face to face with some delusional human who will no doubt force me to relocate further into the park. I’m pleasantly surprised, however, by the respectable looking aged man sharing my bench. I’m not sure how much color he’ll get while wearing slacks and a spring jacket, but I like his thinking.
“That’s my plan, too,” I say, smiling. I have my jeans rolled up off the ankles and the sleeves of a loose fitting tee shirt pushed up to my shoulders for maximum sun exposure.
“Yes, you need it more. I was first in line when God was handing out tans. And you? You were way, way, way at the end.”
I laugh and ease into comfortable conversation with this man. He tells me about his family climbing on the rocks over there. Annie, she lives here now, and the rest of them he brought with him from Huntington, California.
“She’s a Brooklyn girl now.”
“Oh yeah? I also live in Brooklyn.”
“You’re not an editor are you?”
“I am actually. Or at least, I’m trying to be.”
“Annie! Annie’s an editor living in Brooklyn too. Let me see if I can get her attention. Annie!”
I meet Annie. She’s slightly older than me, but not much—just enough to have a more established career. We talk shop and she calls me her Brooklyn media sister. She then runs off to join her nephew in the Seattle Sounders shirt who she clearly adores.
“You’ll have your day,” my new friend tells me as he catches me daydreaming about one day dressing my own little soccer fan in a miniature World Cup jersey. “And more than anything, your mother, your grandmother, they’ll be thrilled. Just don’t marry a bum. ‘Steve…what does he do…nothing? Bum!’ If he’s not a banker or a doctor, then what’s he doing? But my dear, you’re better than a bum.”
I’ve heard this voice before… don’t marry a bum… don’t marry a bum… My grandfather’s mantra resounds in my head. I just laugh and think to myself, no, we’ll have bigger problems when it comes to who I fall in love with. But don’t worry—she won’t be a bum.