Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to Vronsky

Today is a very special day. It's Vronsky's birthday! I mean, why the rest of you aren't off work on some sort of national holiday is just beyond me. Sheesh.

But seriously, birthdays are happy news, and I think it is fitting to have a little post in honor of this momentous occasion.

When I first moved to New York, I was more nervous than I had been upon entering Princeton or even high school. I guess it was because, in my experience, I had at least an inkling of what to expect for those two previous "thresholds." I had friends and swim teammates who had traveled the same road, and the entire infrastructure of academia is structured in such a way that they do not want people to fail and get lost. They want you to succeed. The whims of your peers is an entirely different scenario, one that is very much sink or swim, but that, in its own way, is also ubiquitous and part of the American coming-of-age experience, for better or worse. Both times, I knew what to expect and could gird myself accordingly.

When I moved to New York, however, I was completely adrift. All the novels I had read and Woody Allen movies I'd seen be damned. But there was also a slight sense of solidarity. While everyone was indeed pursuing their own particular goals and dreams, everyone was also united by the common perils of city living. Yet what I think united most of us in that first year was the thrill and the terror of our first year out in the "real world."

The two girls I lived with, Jamie and Rachel, were perfect companions for such a journey. We all had different goals--med school, publishing, fashion--but we all had a strange brand of self-deprecating humor that helped us survive that first year of sub-minimum wage salaries and the daily battle against the roaches roosting in the coffee maker each morning.

It was a weird first year, and I truly believe the reason I reflect on what could have been an all-out horrifying time with fondness is no less due to the company of such friends than it is to Vronsky's sudden presence in my otherwise chaotic life.

I was muddling along and clinging to the old and familiar as a way of coping with the onset of a new and risky career that could, quite easily, bring financial ruin, doom and gloom upon my future. Yet it was Vronsky's enduring optimism and sincere faith in the fantastic magic and mystery of New York, be it through the perfect late-night martini at the Village Vanguard, running around SoHo in a snowstorm while making out at every lamp-post, or even decadent nights at the 21 Club, financial ruin be damned, that finally caused me to fall in love with this crazy city once and for all. And to this day, I can't not walk across 9th street or poke into every dusty second hand shop or exotic spice store without feeling that same excitement that we had on our first date. It is this same thrill and terror of the unexplored and unfamiliar that I hope will continue to define my life in New York for many years to come.

And so on that nauseatingly overly-mushy note, happy birthday to you, mon ami.

To quote a quintessential Georgian toast, "may we always have peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our minds and peace in our bellies."

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