Thirty years ago, on January 6, 1987, I hopped a plane, left my hometown of Tampa, and moved to New York. I had no job and I’d never met my roommates, but to me the risk was worth it — I wanted to do something exciting. I also wanted my long-distance boyfriend who lived in NYC to marry me and I thought proximity might move things along.
I remember the exact day I left Tampa because one of my superpowers is remembering obscure dates and also because January 6 is Epiphany, which looking back, seems very significant. Epiphany means “to show, to make known, to reveal” and sitting in church on Sunday our priest, Becca Stevens, broke down the three elements of an epiphany:
- Epiphanies are always a surprise.
- They usually come after years of preparation.
- Epiphanies change us so we can both see and shine light in our world.
And then I had an epiphany about my epiphanies.
This Little Light of Mine
If you’d told me 30 years ago that it was unlikely I would return to Tampa, I never would have believed you. Tampa was my home. But since my move to New York, I’ve lived in Boston, Ireland, New Hampshire, and now part-time in Nashville, which is a big surprise — after so many years away, I didn’t see myself in the South again.
I never planned to go to Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts (or get divorced, or not have children, or marry an Irish ornithologist who rides his bike from NH to South America), but after nearly 25 years of preparation, I’m so thankful to work as an artist.
And as an artist, I can see the light in this world much better. I think I can shine my light better as well, certainly better than if I’d stayed in the business world, where I thought I belonged but didn’t, a fact I probably wouldn’t have discovered had I not followed my then-boyfriend turned ex-husband to NYC. I am forever grateful to him. In the meantime, I’ll try to follow Vincent Van Gogh’s example, who said, “I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”
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