My friend Zac is moving to New Orleans tomorrow. This friend Zac. The one who once wrote that Harlem is at the center of today’s creative universe.
If you ask my friend Zac why he’s moving to New Orleans tomorrow I’d guess he’d say one of a few things. He’s ready to take a break from Manhattan. He’s inspired by the art and culture and Southerness of that particular southern city. He’s looking for an adventure to inform what he should do next. He has a place to stay there and a bike to ride the short distance from that place to the famous French Quarter.
All good, fine, and true answers, but not enough to tell the guts of the story. To get to that you’d have to ask Zac a lot of questions, and he’s not a huge fan of answering small-talk questions.
Luckily, I don’t care.
The guts of the story starts a few months ago when my friend Zac left his job as an editor at a prominent, national magazine. It was a great job by anyone’s standards, and by Zac’s own definition, it was a dream job. Quite literally, the exact kind of place he envisioned himself when he packed up his skinny suspenders and moved from Mississippi to Manhattan.
But then, after a shorter time than he imagined, that feeling of yes-this-is-right just…passed. It wasn’t that the job wasn’t what he imagined. It was, and for a period of time he loved it, but then the reality of living on that job’s salary in this city while attempting to pursue all the other dreams that started to pop up became too…limiting? See Zac is capable – annoyingly so – and so the idea of also writing and directing short films, experimenting with theater, or transitioning from magazines to novels became less just ideas and more gnawing desires.
People deal with desires in all sorts of ways. Some flat out ignore them. Some find a way to address them while still going about the lives they’ve set in motion. Others decide to slowly transition into a life that better incorporates those desires.
Zac is none of those people. And not because he doesn’t have the whatever-it-takes to handle desires in such a manner. It’s because he doesn’t want to.
Zac quit his job, picked up a freelance writing gig, and started making his side projects the main event. Some days he slept half the day away. Some days he stayed up 24 + hours shooting short films based on the works of our poet-friend all over Times Square. He may or may not have dedicated a never-to-be-mentioned number of hours on a Lady Gaga concert costume…
He sat and he worked and he tried to figure out what should come next.
And then one day what-comes-next started to take shape as New Orleans. There were practical reasons and emotional ones. There was also the help of a mad-cap, one-night trip to visit via a $10 round-trip flight that Meghan found on jetblue. But again, that’s not the important shit.
To Zac the important shit is that he wants to go. It’s a know-it-with-your-gut thing. Definitely not permanent (he has road trips and European bucket-lists on the back, or rather, next burner), but significant enough to warrant leaving a set of best friends, one damn-cute apartment, and the city he’d come to call home.
What will he do for money? What will he do for friends? Is he worried about savings and career direction and establishing networks and planting roots?
He doesn’t know. He’ll figure it out. And no, he’s not. It will unfold in ways he can’t anticipate, teach him things he wasn’t aware he needed to know, and change him, which is really the whole goal.
Do you have a friend like Zac? One who looks at the way life is and says, “um, o-kay but I’d rather…” – whose understanding of a path has absolutely nothing to do with a straight line – who wants more than just one dream – and who isn’t concerned about what you think about all those things?
If you don’t, I recommend finding one, fast. Because in the incredibly short time I’ve known mine he’s taught me more about the boundaries of…ourselves, I think, than people I’ve known for decades.
So like I told him – I’m fine with him leaving. Pissed because I’m down one killer stage manager, but fine. Because if Zac leaving means he’ll continue to be our beacon of well-let’s-just-dive-in-and-live-as-big-as-we-can then I can handle missing him in exchange for the wild and inspiring ride that will be watching what happens next.
Photo credit: Jenny Anderson