Identity Lost...for Now

11:06 AM – EST

New York, New York

Last night I stayed in a beautiful brownstone in the heart of Harlem. The building had clearly received a great deal of love over the years perhaps for the sole purpose of renting it out through AirBnb. For as long as I’ve lived in New York I’ve only been in a handful of them, and most, if not all were in Brooklyn.

My friend Nick who booked the space for our mutual friend Alex’s wedding told me the apartment was 120 years old. Instantly, I began to romanticize about all the things the building had both seen and heard. And I don’t care who you are, or where you’re from, if you live for that long you’re going to have a story or two. Of course, the first thing I think of when someone tells me a building is old is that it’s haunted. I’m not entirely certain where or when this theory was cultivated, but it’s remained throughout my life.

I’m really amazed how quickly one resumes the “New York State of Mind,” when back in the city. It took me months, but when I left Los Angeles I was FINALLY at a place where my gait had slowed, my patience in traffic no longer waned and I’d actually wait for the cross signals before making the exodus to the other side of a busy street. All of that training has been eradicated in my 5 days back in the city that never sleeps. I wonder if I ever go back to Pasadena if I’ll end up getting that ticket for jaywalking I was threatened with on the corner of Lake and Marengo a few months back.

I still don’t know where I’ll be living next year. My plan is to stay another year in California so that I can be close to my aunt in the event my family needs my help. I was relatively set on the idea of returning back to New York before a promising collaboration with a talented film director on three short films and the health of my aunt made me second guess everything. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I have to admit the mild weather in June, the buzz of the city, and the feeling that anything is possible has me really longing to be back in the place that stole my heart nearly a decade ago. It’s been agonizing trying to figure out where I need to be, let alone who or what exactly.

I suppose part of the complexity of being an artist, if I may use that word, is so often your identity is inextricably linked with the words you write, the canvas you paint, or the notes you sing. When that’s all gone you find yourself scrambling to figure out just who you are all over again. It’s a daunting task that’ll leave you feeling as if you've been punched square in the gut. But once you get back on your feet and the pain subsides, you might in fact discover it’s an opportunity for rebirth.

I asked my dear friend Kristin, 36, from New Jersey what the best piece of advice she ever received was and she told me without a moment’s hesitation, “The courage to be happy is profound.” She told me she believed in it so deeply she wanted to get it tattooed on her wrist.

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