I’m back. There’s nothing quite like a birthday to help you re-evaluate your life and get back on track and this recent birthday did just that, like a nice slap in the face and that’s why I’m here.
Ten years ago I didn’t know it but I had just met the love of my life and we were newly dating. To say the last decade has been a roller coaster is an understatement. We dated for three years before he died and I lost the future I thought we had together. Since then I’ve been trying to put my life back together one baby step at a time. I made it through the grieving process and 5 and a half years later took a leap of faith and moved to New York to reset the compass and start the next chapter.
So here I am, 9 months later in the first few hours of my birthday and that’s when things got interesting. I had just finished working an 11 hour shift which carried over into the first few hours of my birthday. Because of my new hours, I knew I would start and end this birthday at work, so I just told myself to suck it up and move on. When I left the office building at 1:40am it was raining so I decided to forgo the subway and hail a cab. If only it were that easy. After three failed attempts, one of which included the driver stopping asking me where I was going and then driving away, I gave up and headed to the Times Square station.
During my time there I learned something most New Yorkers don’t know, they actually clean the subway. It may only happen once a year but the power washer was out flooding the hallway, with water trickling down the stairs and onto the platform where I was waiting. Not the loveliest of experiences but I found a place to stand where I could avoid the water and buried my face in my phone to avoid seeing whatever is in the subway at 140am.
After about 20 minutes of waiting I finally pulled my head out of my phone and that’s when I realized my train likely wasn’t coming any time soon. Partially because of the worker standing on the subway track… and the sign that said my train is running express, which means it’s not going to get me close to my apartment. Great. Back to the original plan, try to get a cab… Again.
As I was leaving. feeling defeated, exhausted and depressed about the start of my first birthday in this magical city I looked over and saw a familiar face. I couldn’t quite place her at first, so I looked away and then did a double take. And that’s when I realized it was the cleaning lady from my office. We smiled and waved to each other and both went on our separate ways. Perfect. The first friendly face I see on my actual birthday is the cleaning lady. Isn’t there a saying about that? Whatever you’re doing on your birthday or whoever you are with you will be with all year? Great. My social circle has been reduced to the cleaning crew.
I shook it off and darted up the stairs in hopes she was my lucky charm and sure enough she was. There were about 4 cabs at the light and one of them motioned for me to get in. Yes! I was on my way things were looking up! I promptly hopped in and got settled, gave the driver my cross streets and we were off. Then I heard something I hadn’t heard in decades… Debbie Gibson singing “Only In My Dreams”. I was a bit dumbfounded, isn’t it 2014? Why was this song playing? Was it in my head, and if it was… WHY? The song eventually changed to something current but I had to question what it all meant.
How far back have I gone in my quest to move forward in life?
I’m currently working the hours and a shift I worked 20 years ago when I started my career and my friend is the cleaning lady who speaks limited English! And why after working 20 years in this business am I settling for starting and ending my birthday at work with little time in between.
Adding to it all, just a week ago I was doing the same thing… working… instead of honoring a life cut short, the anniversary of my loves death. That is not how I want to live my life. We are only given so much time on this earth and it’s time for me to pay attention to MY life. And so begins the latest journey, full of introspection, tough questions, hard answers, and difficult decisions.