24 Days

Originally Written:
July 1st, 2015

The sun already rose, as it tends to do far too regularly. I hear coughing & an echo of Fox 13 news plays simultaneously in two different rooms, on two different television sets. There is that comforting scent of coffee being brewed-the comfort canceled out, however, by the hastily brewed pot. Two more heaping tablespoons of Folger's than cups of water.

I'm listening to Morning Edition, shit is going down in Greece, I'm weighing breakfast options in my mind.

Twenty-four days.

If I were still working at the 115 year old courthouse repurposed into a lifestyle brand hotel, structures taking up an entire city block downtown and only managing to have salvaged enough space for 130 rooms, that would translate into four weeks. Six days a week, purchasing a crosstown that connects suburbia to the-for the sake of using too many words-"city." Flipping shifts, leaving the property in the moonlight on the cusp of the new day only to turnaround five or so hours later, to return to the property before daybreak. The streetlights are just as I'd left them. Third shift will hit me with the same mundane word exchange: some recycled joke about both starting their shift and ending their shift with me counting  $500 of bills, coins, and petty cash slips in the bank. Punching numbers that meant nothing into an Excel spreadsheet, tabbing over to wake up the calculator. If I had to be awake, so did that damn calculator. I'll smile over at the bellman as they walk through the double doors of the Zack Street entrance, bailing on the bullshit banter they'd been engaging the valet in until better company arrives.

Ducked under the desk retrieving emergency reports from the printer, obscuring me from lobby view, the bell will be standing in the corner near the dimmer control for the lighting. Checking the schedule, I'll begin filling out the pass-on log and attempt to formulate full sentences. Probability has comforted me with the almost fact that the minutes will never creep past 7:12 without the bell offering to get me an Illy coffee from the charcuterie on the second floor. He prompts, I barely let him complete the proposition. To kill time, I'll turn my walkie talkie to Channel Two "Radio check, radio check. Is anyone awake, alive, & on the radio on this lovely Tuesday morning at Le Meridien Tampa?"

The bellman, it's likely Frank, will hold up his radio en route to the granite staircase as my voice bounced through. I'm cringing at the reverb of it in the lobby and immediately request Frank lowers his volume.

Suddenly, a vintage ringing blares through the lobby, my desk phone, I wonder out loud why the hell night audit keeps the damn ringer cranked all the way up. 6220, Service Centre is already calling me. I don't answer immediately,

I hear a heavy Tennessee draw on the radio, "Morning, baby." It's Denise.

"Uh, hey Leila, umm weren't you here last night uhhh when I was leaving?"

Jeremy, oh Jeremy. He and I share the common trait of saying "um" midsentence as we remember we're talking to someone who is actually listening to what we're saying. We get distracted in our own brains and for a moment nothing verbal is attainable and, in this absence of words, "um" fills in accidentally.

"Buenos dias, seniorita." Awh, Theo. Another Spanish accent rings through the walkie talkie, this one less pronounced as Theo's.

"Gooood morning, Ms. Leila." Juan.

It's good to have my crew.

"Morning, Denise; uh um hey...Jeremy...; buenos dias, Theo; good morning, Juan--by the way, when you have the time, could you turn the music up in the lobby, please?"

"No problem, Ms. Leila." "Gracias, Theo."

I look up to footsteps, see an empty lobby, and then catch Frank at the bottom of the stairs, two large coffees in his hand. I jump a little out of excitement, my black pumps clicking rhythmically along. Before I can begin overemphasizing my gratuity, though, my phone is flashing (I've already killed the volume on it). Service Centre. Again.

I take a sip of my coffee and grab the receiver.

"Thank you for calling th-"


"Donnimooore! I thought you were on at 11. What's good, yo?"

"Yeah, well Pricilla called off becau-"

"-of course."

"-of course. So, I got a bunch of bullshit I have to do. Um, if you don't mind doing me a solid and manning the desk."

As though I wasn't already.

"I'm always doing you solids, bro, you owe me a fucking keg."

"Yeah, yeah. I know, I know."

"It's all good, if you need to forward the phones, that's totes chill."

"I got the phones. Totes chill. So, Ms. Escandarrrr, I hear you've been trading upper management favors for kegs, is this accur-"

"Bye, Donnie."

I hang up and try not to smile too much because I know he's watching me on the camera from the Front Office office.

I hold my coffee and continue my chat with Frank as I sift through the high balance report.

Twenty-four days.

At my current job, in a corner cubicle of a corner office at the end of a hall separating the sales floor with an oakwood door reading "Management Only" on the second floor of a local university credit union building, 24 days means only 15 shifts. In that time, I'll make roughly one billion phone calls, I'll be hung up on approximately nine million and seventy-five times, and I'll leave almost an infinity of voicemails. I'll swivel in my chair for six and a half hours each shift, click my pen at least thirteen times a minute, chew at least one pack a gum every two days, and order Five Guys that Shon will pay for and Myles will go get six of my last fifteen shifts, I'm sure. My desk will clutter with highlighters, sticky notes, leads, bottles, and cups. Voids will be filled with conversation I'll never remember and Vines I'll be showed and fake laugh at. I'll get lost figuring out which of the copious amount of exits the building unnecessarily flaunts in attempt to go to my car roughly thirty-nine times. I'll be bored out of my mind for the bulk of it.

Twenty-four days...

There's a sublet in Crown Heights on Craigslist through September that I'm temporarily convinced is it. Dibs will probably be called on it by the time the dude reads my email. There will be so many more that are it  in the next three weeks. I've been offered a room in Bushwick, another in Bay Ridge.

Every time I see a sublet that I really adore and then discover it's in Bushwick or Bed-Stuy, an involuntary "ugh" is let out. I have no right to already show snobbery about particular neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but I do. This is probably a lot of why I'm moving to NYC.

Bay Ridge hits the proper keys to evoke a sliver of home; the commute, though, could be better. There's a studio in Borough Park I'd love to land. Chances are I'll end up in Flatbush. This is totally fine by me.  

Twenty-four days...?

I'll spend an eternity sorting through my clothes, heartbroken to be separating from my favorite slutty Florida threads. I have to have the NYC rejects decided upon by the 18th. My brother and his girlfriend, in all their good graces, will attempt to sell my useless shit at their garage sale while I'm in St. Augustine with Marie. I'll probably cry for the first time in months that weekend.

I'll tell myself I won't put off packing. I'll most definitely put off packing. I'll have last drinks with anybody that makes enough of an effort to catch me before I depart. I'll rack up bar tabs that will already be taken care of when I go to close. I'll sigh a mental breath of relief, but will genuinely feel like "awh, you didn't have to do that."

Everybody will be more aware of me leaving than I am.

I'll try to cash in my free entree at Thai Cafe on Twiggs. I'll make a point catch the Andy Warhol printmaking exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art afterward (for free) with a Le Meridien key. I'll bullshit the receptionist there about how lovely my stay is there, how charming the Unlock Art program is, how the architecture of the hotel really is quite something. I'll likely be stoned for this interaction. I'll spend an hour gazing at pop art before I decide a margarita would be nice. I'll inevitability walk to Anchor Bar and sit in my favorite corner seat. Nic will come give me a hug and ask me what I'm drinking. I'll proceed to have one more (twenty more one mores, oh & it does not relent). I'll spill all my anxieties about relocation to Nic and blow $15 on TouchTones. He'll ask me to come outside with him while he smokes a cigarette. He'll offer me one. I'll decline, as always, and make a comment about the awful weather. We'll go back inside and I'll check my phone. There will be at least 7 new messages. Five will be from Marie and two from Wayne. I'll read them, giggling to myself, close out.

Nic and I will have an anticlimactic goodbye. He'll close me out at a zero balance and tell me to come see him if I'm ever in town.

I'll walk to the Riverwalk and get a drink from Joe at the Sheraton for free. I'll revel in the open containers on the Riverwalk being chill for one last time. I'll find a good bench in a corner and text back Marie, and then Wayne. I'll kill my drink and walk back to the corolla with two missing hubcaps, stopping by Eddie & Sam's for a slice of margherita pizza and Snapple en route. I'll eat outside & see the black Le Meridien Benz stop at the light on Tampa & Twiggs. I'll save the rest of my slice for later, walk to the corolla with the two missing hubcaps, open the moonroof and windows, thumb through the six discs in the changer. I'll stop at Lonesome Crowded, maximize the volume, and take the crosstown home.

I'll continue to put off packing by carrying on a conversation with Marie until midnight and with Wayne until 3:00.


Twenty-four days?!?


All I can really do at this point is speculate...


It's Up To You...

Originally Written: July 10th, 2015

Two weeks until New York & my heart hasn't stopped pounding painfully into my gut for weeks:
color Brooklyn,
beneath bridges
beer bottles.

One bar tab away from making tonight the most memorable of the week...
An air mattress, hardwood floors--
I'm running in place, chasing platforms
because I'd hit the point where I'd begin to realize there was no moving forward until I got this one out of my system.
The first thing you learn when planning to move to NYC is you won't want to tell anyone you are moving to NYC. First of all, nobody will think you'll follow through. Even if you have proof of travel information, they think you won't follow through.

If you do start spreading the news, be it selectively: tell your best friend, one of your three siblings, your friends in NYC.

This reason is twofold:

1.  Telling everyone will make you start fretting your ability to actually make it there. You'll begin revisiting the initial fears all writer's writers have before making the decision, the ones you mentally wrote rebuttals for (because you even had to argue with yourself about the logistics). You'll be putting them into good use once the word spreads.

2.   Telling a few people who have the background story to support your decision will ensure that you will not get stuck. They will offer words of support when you don't expect them and, more importantly, when you need them most pertinently.

Tell your sister because you'll want to have someone who will make you feel like you're not leaving merely out of spite and to remind you to come home for the holidays.
Tell your best friend because she will not accept you flaking on this decision.

           Tell your friends in NYC, shit, tell all of them.

They will serve as a constant reminder that your life is about to change completely. They'll be excited about your arrival. They'll casually fill you in on their days to keep your interest sparked because living in NYC is about subscribing to a full time hobby: NYC.

The next thing you learn is your brain will break. You'll realize you have no idea how to move to NYC. The casual research will become obsessive. You will forget how to entertain small talk. You will forget to offer courtesy laughs. You'll sacrifice socializing to scour sublet listings. Your mind is lost on the MTA while your body entertains going through the motions of reality.

  You'll learn how to bounce ideas off of people about the best route of action in a subtle, polite manner. You will be timid about prompting for direct insight. You'll learn the general spatial outline of the neighborhoods, you'll be able to know which avenues separate certain clusters of Brooklyn from looking at listings.

You'll realize New Yorkers love giving input about living in New York.
Like I said, it's a full time hobby.