40

I just finished reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids.  It’s a really magical book about Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe’s friendship and experiences living in New York in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.  I mean, it’s about much more than that, but that’s my quick synopsis.  The reality is it is about being a young artist and what that means.  That got me thinking.  I’m not an young artist.  I’m 40.  I decided to come to New York and try my hand at this later in in my life than many do.  I was 35.  What I realized recently was that being an artist in New York is about being young.  That’s not to say someone my age can’t be successful. I could be, have been, and hope to be again.  Whatever that means.  What I’m saying is that when your young you have time.  You can take a job that pays shit, barely pay your rent, and find someone who will give you free tickets to shows.  When you get older and make a choice like say, to have a child, suddenly there’s all this stuff that never came up.  Stuff that you never felt before because there was no reason to feel it.  I never thought I would care about turning forty.  It came in with nothing but pure fun.  We got a sitter and I spent the day with my best friends riding high speed go carts, had burgers for dinner, and then had a part at a Russian Martini bar where someone who shall remain nameless handed me a shot of horseradish vodka that tipped me back to my 19 year old drunk self.  That was 6 months ago and it was the last time I have done such a thing.  I like drinking with my friends.  It’s fun.  I mean we have a good time sober too but if there is one group in this world that knows how to have a party it’s this one.  Thing is, none of them have kids.  These days my time is limited, my wife and I have the aforementioned toddler(who we love more than anything) and not much money.  I work full time at an office and my wife teaches kids to dance.  We decided that was the best way to go, because, 1st, we can’t afford a nanny or full time baby sitter (she’s been able to take him to work with her) for that matter we can almost not afford a babysitter for a few hours a week.  We don’t get out much these days.  That being said we did decide that we wanted at least one parent with him as much as possible.  That means we sacrifice things like…money and a social life.  One of us has to work less.  It’s a challenging way to live and one that, before, I didn’t realize how that would affect our life.  I mean, we’re used to poverty.  that’s nothing new, but recently it’s been changing.  I’ve been more aware of how socially isolated things can get.  Now I’m around people all the time, but that’s it, I’m around people, not with them.  I look around at people who have money and how they seem, I say seem, to be able to do what they want to when they want to.  That having money really does equate to a kind a freedom, but, I’m also glad we have this time with him.  That someone else isn’t raising him.  I have to ask myself if we had the money how much would we have childcare?  I mean, neither of us want to spend every second with him, that’s not fair to anyone, mostly him.   However I think having a few more options would be nice.  What I’m  driving toward is that we are still working very hard to be artists.  We made a choice that involves not making more money.  After a year of focusing on being parents we are suddenly being thrust back into what we want to do and finding we have to make some new hard choices.  How do we make money doing what want to do and live a fulfilling life?  We are poor parents in our 30’s and 40’s trying to be artists and make a living.  This is the figuring out part.Image        

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