Monday, March 05, 2007

But I Found What I Was Looking For

On the post below – oh, thanks, everyone, for your awesome suggestions – reader KR (and good friend for…let’s tactfully say a long time) proposed adding U2’s great song “But I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” to my Leaving New York Roadtrip Playlist. It got me thinking.

No, I can’t claim these last few years went according to plan. It would be wrong to suggest that there wasn’t a cloud of disappointment hanging over the horizon, the shadow of what might have been. But that’s probably true of everyone’s life.

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m leaving New York because I’m giving up, that I’m retreating to Oregon with my tail between my legs to lick my emotional wounds. New York has been great. I don’t regret coming here. I’m not angry, jaded, or disillusioned. I’ve just reached the point where it’s time to close this chapter and start a new one.

The story of how I got here is a long and complicated one with several bizarre twists of fate, but I can start with that day in the summer of 1993 when I had the opportunity to sing for Ellen Faull, former City Opera diva and professor emerita of the Juilliard School. Sure, I entertained the fantasy that she would love my singing and arrange for me to go study in New York. But when that actually happened, it was stunning.

I was scared. Me, in New York City? Me, at a conservatory? I didn’t feel ready for either of those things. (And remember, this was pre-Giuliani scary Times Square squeegee-guy New York.) But I said to myself, “Look, buster: if you don’t do this, if you don’t give this a try, you will regret it for the rest of your life.” If I didn’t like it, if it didn’t work out, I could always go home.

Okay, I’m not where I hoped I’d be. But I went places and did things I never dreamed I’d do. I had opportunities and experiences I’d be a fool not to still be amazed at and grateful for. But forget the career for the moment.

New York. There is no place in the world I would rather have spent my 20s than New York City. I went through adolescence in Portland, but I grew up in Manhattan. I am not the same person I was when I got here; I am profoundly changed for the better. The people I have encountered, the friendships I have made, and the wealth of experiences – from exhilarating to devastating – well, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Do I have any regrets? I wish I’d had more confidence when I was younger. I was cute; I wish I’d known that and put it to better use. I wish I had not taken my singing so seriously; I wish I would have allowed myself to take a few more risks and had more fun. Oh well.

So no, this is not surrender. This was amazing. I didn’t go as far as I hoped, but I exceeded all my expectations. I come away from this feeling blessed and lucky. I will treasure these past 13 years all the days of my life.


Elizabeth said...

Every time you choose to do one thing, you are choosing not to do countless other things. The older I get the more I realize this, and wish it could be different. But we do have to choose, and if we don't choose it gets chosen for us. I also wish I hadn't been so serious in my 20s, and that I'd gone to a real college (instead of the "Christian College" that I went to, that was founded by Tim LaHaye--yuck!) but then, where would I have met my wonderful husband? I think that part of the beauty of realizing how the choices one makes forms who you are is just realizing that in different circumstances, you could have been very different. Helps give some perspective to the world and makes us more understanding of others, I think.

For all the thing I "wish I'd done" I am happy with who I am now, so maybe the things I did were worthwhile, after all.

kr said...

heh :).
I figure the U2 song is always appropriate, as we are all always discovering our path ....
--K :).

Jade said...

"I wish I’d had more confidence when I was younger. I was cute; I wish I’d known that and put it to better use."

Ahem... some people were quite forward in telling you that you were cute well before New York was a passing thought, but as I only have a guy's name and not guy parts, I believe your reaction was "close, but no banana"

Matthew said...

This is a very optimistic and mature assessment of life, Andy. Sounds like you've got a great head on your shoulders (we already knew that!) and that you will continue to explore, learn, appreciate and grow throughout your life.

Kudos, bro.

The Law Fairy said...

Awesome post (as usual)!

I wish there were a way to live more than one life, so we could fit in all the things we'd like to do. I'd like to have a life as a doctor, a life as a scientist, a life as a dancer, a life as a mom, a life as a perpetual grad student ;) I wish there were some way to fit it all into the 80 years or so we get. But there isn't, so we have to make choices. And generally we're expected to make them damn young!

This is part of why I always harbored a desire (still do, ever so slightly) to be a professional actor. Obviously, part of it was the draw of fame and fortune. But part of it was also the prospect of living dozens of different lives through the magic of Hollywood. If I can't be 17 different people, at least I can pretend to be 17 different people, which is the next best thing. Still, being a lawyer lets me live vicariously in different ways -- in a sense I do get to sort of act out different lives, albeit through a less entertaining lens :) Funny how things work out.

I don't have any "regrets" per se... but there are definitely things for which I wish, at least, that I could see how things might have turned out differently if I'd made a different choice. Maybe I'd like that outcome better, maybe I wouldn't. But I sure am curious.

Anyway, congrats on moving on to the next chapter of your life. I'm sure it holds great things for you!