As I went to hang up the phone after a conversation with my mom tonight, I heard her take a quick breath. She wanted to say something more. She just wasn't quite sure how to start.
I knew this, as I know her.
"Mom?" I inquired gently, prodding her along. "What is it?"
"Do you think maybe you should move home?" she whispered so quietly it was barely audible.
I hardly knew what to say.
I know quitting my job wasn't necessarily the smartest thing in the world. But it wasn't entirely irresponsible. Finding a job is not easy; yesterday's failure to make any headway at all underscored that fact quite nicely. But I have some stuff saved up. And I've only been out of work for a week. I'm looking now. I'm not planning on sitting on my butt. I'll temp, I'll waitress, I'll do whatever I need to do to get by until I figure things out. It's not much of a plan, but at least it's something.
I told her that I didn't want to go home because there's really no place for me there. I have three younger sisters all either firmly ensconced in or just entering adolescence, so bedrooms, closet space, and bathroom time are in low supply and high demand.
But that's not really the reason I don't want to do it.
I simply don't want to go back there. I'm not ready to give up. I haven't worked out all my Mary Tyler Moore fantasies; I've never thrown my hat up into the air as I strutted down a city street. Growing up in my tiny town, I had always dreamt of New York. "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere," I would sing softly to myself as I day-dreamed of life in The Big City... Capital T, Capital B, Capital C. My love for New York rivaled my freshman-year crush on the lone artsy guy in the senior class.
I never got the guy. But I did get New York. I moved here right after college, and it was better than any fumbled adolescent smooch could have ever been. This was my real dream.
But I didn't make it here.
Not yet, anyway.
I, for one, haven't given up hope that I will. This is New York, the land of opportunity. There are millions of other people swirling about, trying to make something of themselves. To be Someone with a capital S.
Somebody's gotta do it.
Why not me?
But when my mother asked why I wanted to stay here so badly, I couldn't come up with an answer. For the life of me, I couldn't verbalize just what I loved so much about New York City. It's the greatest city in the world, yet I didn't have one single tangible reason to offer her in response.
Sensing my struggle and frustration, she said to sleep on it. I'm going back home for Easter weekend anyway. We could talk about it then.
We said goodbye and hung up.
After I heard her click off the line, I put down the phone and sat perfectly still in the silence of my apartment for a few minutes.
I could have sworn that I heard an echo in the room, even though I hadn't made a noise.
Barely -- just barely -- I heard a single word.
Bought one lottery ticket.