The opening chords of a song vibrate and I’m no longer here. Nostalgia comes when I least expect, scene memory overriding consciousness. My memory’s grainy, but moments resurface as I get lost in the song in my morning commute. It’s summer 2014. I’m 20. I’ve dropped out of school and it’s still unclear if I’ll be going anywhere in the fall. I watch Hunter on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I make bank, or so I think. We ride the F train together in the humidity of Manhattan’s underground. He doesn’t know my name, only points to me when I walk through the door and says “F!”. Chelsea and I watch fireworks on Hunter’s rooftop for the Fourth of July. Chelsea and I do a lot that summer - long walks through the city, too many scones at Alice’s, two buck chuck out of mason jars, lying on the floor of our apartment, just us and the cats. Paige and I sneak thai food into movie theaters. I realize how much I love movies. I get invited to a warehouse party in Brooklyn. Chelsea convinces me to go. I wear that backless dress. I see people from school and remember why I left. I watch Meryl Streaks rock out. I crush on that one guy again. Chelsea and I do yoga. A lot of yoga.
I sign up for a yoga teacher training. It drains the “bank” I was making. I climb to the fourth floor of the brick building on St. Marks too many times. Every child’s pose brings my nose to my mat; sage and sweat. We exhale “ah”. One day, I suddenly can do lizard’s pose. I learn to breathe. I cry in pigeon’s pose. I fall asleep in the after-lunch Saturday heat of Sam’s anatomy class. I hold chair pose for over five minutes. We do dynamic meditation. I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. We raise our arms for an hour and I feel like I’ve been hit by a semi. But my body is in the best shape of its life. I can feel the growth mentally and physically. I ready The Power of Now. I take a sketch writing class. I’m so bad at it, I stop going five weeks in. I invite two boys into my home that summer. One disrespects Chelsea. They both disrespect me. Chelsea and I eat a lot of sweet potatoes. And ice cream. We make smoothies every morning and I take them on the blue line to get to work. I write the first page of a screenplay.
A lot of people take my picture. I go on a lot of auditions. I book one short run Off-off Broadway. The director tries to sign me. He wants 20%. I tell him to go pound sand. I regret not going to NYU. I resent Juilliard for only one callback. My city starts to wear on me. I wear a lot of green. I try to teach one day, and can’t. I cry again; a release of not feeling worthy to teach. Michel places his hand over my heart. “You need to crack open your wings and be more gentle to the little girl inside you. You have a beautiful heart.” I tattoo his words on my arm for safekeeping. I get into school. Only one, across the country. Back near home, a little too close to home. But I go. I pack up my apartment and my cat. Chelsea moves home too. I do 108 sun salutations. I invite my friends to my teacher training graduation. I start classes in 48 hours. I’m always ready to go, but never ready to leave. I play this song on my flight home. I play it in my car on my first day driving to school. And somehow, I still get butterflies with every chord he plays.