If I muster up the energy to sharpen my eyeliner before I go out with a guy, that means I really like him. Last night, I sharpened my eyeliner, put on my one pair of jeggings (that I will forever after this sentence deny that I own), zipped up my less-male-looking pair of boots, and left my apartment to have dinner with Drew, my summer camp love.
I was a little nervous, especially because I had openly wept at the gym earlier that day while watching The Ellen Show–she gave a recently-laid-off school teacher a $500 check to Sears (among other lesser things, like bikes and TV’s and a possible job offer). Also, the last conversation I had before leaving to meet Drew ended with my friend telling me, “What animal do you look most like? Dobby.”
Drew was someone I absolutely adored but hadn’t seen in seven years. It was like the last scene in Kill Bill: Vol. 2, minus all that hostility.
Drew and I met at summer camp when we were both fifteen, and just immediately clicked. In the seven years since I last saw him, I have, on more than one occasion, told people that he’s “basically, just my gahddamn soul mate.” He has this fantastic head of dark, wavy hair, these shockingly blue eyes–he’s an overall Italian Superman. He also has a gorgeous singing voice, and can do the most amazing impression of a brain-damaged child I’ve ever seen.
Drew represents something special to me. He’s a living piece of my past, a reminder of more innocent times spent bemoaning cabin clean-up instead of financial woes, dancing to Disney mixes in the mornings instead of angstily sipping caffeine-free herbal tea to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack. He was my first love in a lot of ways. Also, we met at Interlochen Musical Theatre Camp, so Drew is totally gay.
Here is a picture of one of the more recent productions put on at Interlochen Art Camp’s Musical Theatre Workshop:
Drew walked into the restaurant, and despite having sharpened my eyeliner pencil and squeezed myself into faux-spandex-jeans, he still looked prettier. And I couldn’t hate him for it. Not even a little. Love.
We reminisced about our time at Interlochen, about who was doing what now, who had gotten fat (disappointingly, no one has), how our choreographer asked me to leave the stage halfway through our dance-heavy rendition of “Happy Feet,” etc. But despite the fact that our souls are one, Drew and I are moving in geographically polar directions. He currently lives in Chicago and wants to move to New York, whereas I currently live in New York and am considering moving to Chicago.
I’ve spent the past few months mulling over the Chicago vs. New York question, Googling it, posting on forums, making pros and cons lists on Post-It Notes, basically all the true signs of emotional turmoil. I even bought a whole bunch of fortune cookies and recruited my friend to help me systematically eat them in hopes of finding some small scrap of guidance. This is the closest we came:
It isn’t an easy choice. Chicago represents a quieter, more affordable lifestyle, but there are some things about New York I don’t think I could ever live without. One of those things is the Museum of Modern Art. Yes, it houses Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and not too long ago it had an absolutely baller display of superhero movie costumes–but there are few things in life more satisfying than making fun of the stuff at MoMA.
There are other things I’d miss about New York as well, more sincere things, and here are six of them:
1) Occasionally seeing my favorite professor near campus, being too afraid he won’t remember me to speak to him, and taking a picture of him from behind instead.
2) The spandex widows/human condoms on 14th Street.
The truth is, my relationship with New York is a lot like my relationship with Drew: our souls are mated, like penguins, or Hispanic couples, and no matter how long we’re together or apart, that won’t change. I could leave New York tomorrow, come back in seven years, and it would be as if no time had passed. That love would still be there.
But there are certain realities about our relationship that I have to face.
New York holds a special place in my heart, and it always will, but I’m not eighteen anymore. I came here from Ohio when I was very young, looking for adventure and alcohol. It was, and is, the Candyland of the theatre world–but it’s hard to keep up with. No matter how many times I sharpen my eyeliner or try to take up smoking in order to look more at home on St. Mark’s Place, New York will always walk into the restaurant and be just a little bit prettier than me–and I can’t hate it. Not even a little. Love.