Someone Else’s Life

During a work errand today, I had the pleasure of delivering a few packages to a co-worker’s apartment in the East Village. I stepped into the building on 4th and E 12th and knew it was going to be something special.
I knocked and Melissa, a beautiful brunette, swung the door open to reveal a room of splendor. It was a cozy loft filled with charming mirrors of every size, artwork, antique furniture and unexpected embellishments. A thick, fluffy white fur throw was slung over a chair, and a wooden spiral staircase swirled up to a lofted living room. I could have been in a dream. She invited me in, and I silently rejoiced that I’d get to spend a fraction of time in her quaint dwelling.
We began unpacking the several boxes of framed prints I’d brought, and all the while Melissa commented on how disheveled her apartment was, and how much she had to do. When I asked her what the prints were for, she casually mentioned that Vogue Italia was coming tomorrow to photograph the space. She then turned the conversation to me, asking where I went to school. I couldn’t imagine she’d be interested in me, but I told her I’d come from Minnesota, and she seemed delighted, if not fascinated of my transfer. “I kind of moved here on a whim,” I explained. She responded with, “I’d kind of like to get out of here on a whim.”
What?! I had to think about it for a moment. Why would anyone want to leave this behind? Her gorgeous apartment in a snug Manhattan neighborhood, all of her collectables, everything so…
“I mean, I love New York, but…”
We walked back to her bedroom. I gasped. Giant windows stretching to the ceiling and covering more than half of the wall, looking down seven stories below. Book shelves tidy with shoes, art and momentoes scaled another wall top to bottom, with a library ladder for access to the upper shelves. Why would anyone want to leave this?
For those fifteen minutes that I was at Melissa’s apartment, there was a predominant thought in my head: How can I have this? And I found it so strange, so odd that she had exactly what I wanted, and desired to leave it to go elsewhere.
Which brought me to a parallel. The more I thought about Melissa, the more self-reflective and empathetic I became. I had a version of Melissa’s life, only in Moorhead, MN. While she was running a gallery and traveling the world from San Francisco to Istanbul, I was working at a gallery and traveling. While she was meeting artists and shaping her career, I was in school doing just the same. And when she wanted to get out of New York — to be somewhere else and see new things — I left Minnesota and did just that.
I suppose it made me understand, more than usual, that I have a great life. It may not involve a seventh-floor lofted paradise — rather, a fishy-smelling residence in Brooklyn — but it’s brought me somewhere to see new things.
Isn’t that what everyone wants?
—j

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