Doing Time in Howard Beach
For two years after I returned to New York I lived in the neighborhood that I grew up in: Howard Beach. When I left I had sworn that I would never go back to the place that I spent my late teens running from, but rent was astronomical and with the realization that I wanted to be an artist came the tricky task of providing for myself. I knew that it would take me awhile to find an art vs. money balance and in the meantime I had no interest in living like a starving artist—I would take screaming Italians over ramen noodles any day.
Everyday I ran like a banshee to catch the Q41, which only came twice an hour, to connect to the A train at the JFK stop. My backpack was more like a mini-mobile home because when you live far, far away there is no hope of going back home to grab that sequin blouse which you didn’t think you would need but turns out you do. So, I had to bring everything that I needed and everything that I might need. On a typical day I would have: dance clothes, tap shoes, book, almost-finished newspaper, planner, camera, comb, make-up bag, costume for the night’s show, towel and soap for a post-class shower, lunch, snack and sometimes even dinner (I never let good meatballs go to waste). It was like I was a backpacker, except without the exotic location and vacation time.
My angst grew. I went through the stages of grief over my situation.
Denial: “No, I ‘m not really living here, I am just staying here.” and “It’s not big deal, jut a few things to carry around.”
Anger: “Why was I born into a family who lives so far away from civilization?”
Bargaining: “OK, if I live here for a few years, divine retribution guarantees that I’ll find an amazing apartment when I move.”
Depression: “I should quite everything and get a civil servant job like my mother keeps telling me to do.”
Acceptance: “OK, I live here and now is the time how to figure out how to get the hell out.“
Because I was still working out my art vs. money balance, getting out meant that I started being the cat-sit, dog-sit, house-sit, plant-sit, turtle-sit whore for homes from Harlem to Greenpoint. I got to explore New York, learn a lot about what its like to live in lots of different neighborhoods and the habits of spoiled pets, some of whom ate better than me. After all that moving I officially moved out of Howard Beach to Brooklyn, two blocks from where my mother grew up (how is that for irony?)
I looked at my backpack this morning and thought back to the Howard Beach lugging days. And laughed, because my backpack is not so much smaller. Why? Because this is New York and unless your life revolves around a five block radius do you ever get the chance to run home? I still have my workout clothes, a lunch, a book, a planner, a camera…On the train today I noticed that about half the people on it had similar bags. We are all backpackers, the urban kind.
My questions is, what was the strangest thing in your backpack today?
I’ll go first: attachable “6-month pregnant” belly to practice for an upcoming character/film. What about you?
Bloggers Bio: Lauren LoGiudice is an actor, model, performance artist, writer, host, producer, improv comedian and amateur chef. A native New Yorker—born in Queens, now living out in Brooklyn—who likes to shake the dust of the outer boroughs off to travel the world, living and working in places that range from India to Mexico to Italy. Part of the slim minority who does not like bacon, potato chips or milk chocolate. Often seen in farmer’s markets trolling for and the latest weird vegetable. Eats her greens. (laurenlogiudice.com).