We first met when I was five years old. I’d say it was safe to assume that it was by accident, when my young parents let me take in the fighting amongst larger than life entities. From the moment, I saw the commercial where Bret “The Hitman” Hart gave his glasses away to the kid, I knew I wanted to have that experience some day. I was quickly enamored with him and his ability to make everyone love him with his athleticism, love for his country and especially his family. Bret was the very first super-hero figure that I have memory of in my life and he holds a special place in my heart still this day.
We really fell in love when I was twelve years old, didn’t we? You were all I could think about or talk about because you were the escape I needed and the license to be different from the kids around me. I was always a quiet kid with a broad imagination and the hyperbolic stories you offered only fueled my own ideas of what could be some day. This was the age of The Rock, Shane McMahon and Triple H. I had a crush on all three of them but their athleticism and charm wasn’t lost on me. They were cool and that’s exactly what I wanted to be. These three were incredibly influential to me, but none of them would ever be Chyna Doll or Chyna or how I would later remember her as Joanie. Joanie was the only woman I had ever saw who was just as athletic and full of life as the men in the sport and sometimes even better then them. She was the stand out, just like I often felt I was, so I was fascinated by her. She was the person to give me the license to be different and the fearlessness that was needed to be a preteen who wasn’t like the ones around her. Her presence and body of work carried me into my adulthood with priceless of bravery. I cried like I lost a family member when she died. My love for her ran deeper than I was willing to admit. She was like an old friend.
We broke up for awhile didn’t we? I got older and the need to fit in outweighed the need to find out who I was authentically, but all was not lost. When I met my wife, I was able to find you again. I watched you casually at first and began to enjoy your stories from the lens of an adult rather than a child and preteen in search of something. How foolish I was to think you couldn’t give me something. 2016 was the year of Cody Rhodes. He left the WWE and went on the quest of the independents. It was his journey that gave me the community I didn’t know I was missing. I felt a little out of place as an adult fan, but with my investment in him came the community of adult fans who were just like me. I was no longer weird or different, I found community in people who enjoyed you just like me. You have always been the gift that keeps on giving.
These days are relationship is more quiet but still steady. I turn you on for comfort, I go to matches for my favorites but I also go to matches to spend time with the people I love the most (even the ones that don’t love you like I do. Love you wife). All of this to say, thank you. Thank you for being the steady light in the sometimes really dark and crazy world.
In 2015, I came across a blog challenge presented by Tales from the Motherland, my friend Dawn Quyle Landau. Dawn wrote a post in 10 minutes about 50 things she was grateful for and invited others to participate. While the 50 goal isn’t always achievable in the time span, I’ve always had a lot fun trying it out and doing my part to fill the internet with gratitude versus the not so nice things it can show in a day’s work. I’ve always loved this challenge because it became an annual way to end my year/or begin it by reminding myself about all the good in my life. Last year was the first year, I didn’t participate/see the challenge presented (for obvious reasons) but I wanted to begin 2022 and bring it back around. I don’t have the same scale of community that Dawn has, but I am presenting an open invitation to anybody wants to participate. Feel free to share your post with me on this platform or Twitter. The challenge is to write as many things you’re grateful for in 10 minutes. Good luck and have fun with it! While life is all about balance, I think it’s important to try and drive as much positivity as we can muster especially in today’s crazy world.
Without further ado, here’s my list (not in any order/preference): 1. My Corgi, Penelope – she’s the light of our lives. 2. Being able to see more family this year after a hellish 2020 (hope to see even more in 2022). 3. Marco Polo. This app is a Godsend. My friends and I began weekly chats on Zoom through the height of the pandemic but this app has turned it into daily ones. 4. My wife. She’s my partner in so many ways. I love our life together and I love growing as a couple and as people. 5. My faith. Finding an LGBTQIA+ ministry in a Catholic Church setting has felt like finding a unicorn in real life. I am so lucky. 6. Having a job after all of the chaos of remote life. 7. A place to live. 8. Not losing anyone close to me to this horrible virus when so many people did. 9. Therapy. It took me almost 10 years to finally unpack things but I’m glad that I have been trying and learning. 10. My family both born into and married into. 11. Music/Podcasts – I hate being alone and I’ve spent a lot of time on my own with my wife returning to the office. They’ve kept me company. (Shoutout to Ask Iliza Anything and Drama Queens, my two favorite podcasts) 12. The ability to learn something new daily. 13. Streaming services. Sometimes mindless and time consuming, other times live saving and just the distract you need. 14. Learning that creativity can be more than just my writing. 15. My new found Lego hobby. 16. Coloring books. 17. Starting to speak my mind even when it’s uncomfortable. 18. Colleen Ballinger 19. A good pair of earrings never failing to make me feel sexy. 20. Being able to go back to places I never thought I’d see again. 21. Meditation for calming me down at my worst. 22. Living in a city with so many food options. 23. The drive to continue to learn about myself and never giving up on that journey. 24. A clean house. 25. Video games. 26. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone when necessary and having the support in my life in which to do it. 27. A good blanket 28. Trips to my parents house when I need it or when I need to see them. 29. My co-workers who I went two years without seeing but was able to pick up right where we left off. 30. A good cup of coffee. 31. The Letter Project for showing me how many women are just like me/how I can be of service to more women who need the encouragement.
Thank you for letting me share and I hope that this entry inspires your own list of gratitude. Happy 2022!
I am born and raised in New York City, I’ve seen I love NY plastered on cups, plastic bags, postcards, just about anything you can put print on. New Yorkers wear our city like a badge of pride. Most of us are very proud to be from here and truly mean it when we say we love NY.
This weekend has me experiencing reflective and grateful emotions. Emotions about 9/12/2001, the day after the towers were hit and how affected I was by what I saw as a child and how proud I was to see the entire world rally behind our state. In our hour of need, I saw so many people do whatever it took to help others and foster very much needed compassion for the horrid moment. I remember how inspired I was by this and took it upon myself to use my confirmation service hours to collect supplies for first responders at the World Trade Center who needed them. New York proved that in the face of tragedy we can come together when it really counts.
I also have a lot of gratitude for my city for the events from this year as well. We all collectively went through hell and are doing our best daily to bounce back. There are so many things I never thought I’d get to do or see again. The NY Pause gave me a lot of perspective for just how much I love NY and all it has to offer. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of it all and only fixate on all the inconveniences that come with day-to-day life in a city. The saying “You never know what you have until it’s gone” applies here. I found myself missing the commute, the ability to be in the mix of all different types of people, the subway, and the coffee on the go. I was surprisingly sad about all of the loss of all of these things. I was devastated to see Broadway go dark and see Times Square appear abandoned.
A lot of these dramatic retroactively but it’s the perspective I needed and the restart to falling back in love with my beautiful city. We are a place of diversity of all kinds, silent acceptance where it’s not always seen, and a haven for anyone who’s willing to put the work into their dreams. Every activity I get to resume, I resume with gratitude beyond anything I’ve imagined. I am thankful for the little things again and so proud to be a New Yorker.
I’m including an old post explaining some of the things I love about New York. It’s an old unjaded post but I feel like it’s so fun to look back on because it explains some of my favorite reasons why I am so in love with this city. Feel free to check out if you’d like. New York, New York, it’s a helluva town! (No, it really is!)
When Covid hit, New York gradually started to shut down some of the biggest staples that kept the heart beating in our Big Apple. Landmark after landmark went down, but when Broadway went dark I knew that this pandemic was serious. I took the loss of the great white way harder than I wanted to admit. Theater was a part of the magic that my younger self found in New York City. It was my own oasis of a glittery escape in my own backyard. I pictured the normally lit signs dim as the streets lay deserted with no usual foot traffic and life to pound the pavement. Sad wasn’t the word, I was devastated with no control of what was to come and it was the scariest feeling to watch my city slowly go dim.
I know we aren’t out of the woods yet. The threat still remains real but we are figuring out every day a little more pieces to the puzzle. Science is working double time and the lights are coming back to my beautiful hometown.
The last time we saw a show was November 25, 2019. Katharine McPhee was back on Broadway reprising her role as Jenna Hunterson in Waitress. We’d seen the show twice by then but couldn’t resist going back to see our girl tear the roof off the place again. We were 13 days into our new marriage already kicked in the teeth by the thoroughs of life. We needed an escape desperately and Waitress more than delivered. Our mutual love for the arts is one of the many things my wife and I share and this show was no different. Life was good in that evening, there was no reality, no stress, we were having a date we both needed.
Today after 650 days since our last show and 555 days into the Covid-19 pandemic in New York, I can happily and gratefully say that we made our return to Broadway and back to the diner. I felt like a kid on Christmas. A bundle of nerves being exposed to crowds again (we were all masked and vaccinated or tested) but excited to be back in the theater. It’s been almost a year and a half since I’ve seen Times Square and today I took it all in like I was seeing it for the first time. Waitress was revived and brought to the Barrymore Theatre directly across the street from its original home at Brook Atkinsons. I’ve dreamed about this day, I’ve mourned the idea that lights would never come on again and I cannot explain how happy I am to have spent time inside of a Broadway show again. The world has a ways to go but these gifts of what was once reminds me to never take advantage of what you have in front of you because it can be gone in an instant. I am thankful, humbled. Thanks for taking to me to the moon, Waitress. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed my city more than I could explain.
On Sunday, May 23rd, I enter my 32nd trip around the sun. I love my birthday to begin with, but this year has me particularly reflective. Life inside of a pandemic has been a tricky one. My mental health has flopped around like a fish out of water, my time with family and friends was grossly limited and life in general was just uncertain overall. I celebrated my birthday last year in a very limited way and it bummed out. While I appreciated the absolute best efforts of my wife and my brother and my sister in law, I found myself with a serious case of the blues. I love people, that’s something that this pandemic confirmed for me so being without all my people on my special day made things a little heavier than I would have hoped they would be.
This time last year, I had already been away from my parents for three months, there wasn’t really a direction to when this pandemic would end, and no one really knew how to continue a daily life. Were we supposed to hunker down and stay totally inside? Could we see people we knew were safe? Should we see people at all? There were so many questions with very few answers. The end looked like it would never come but here I am a year later and there has been glimmers of hope that have left me grateful for time and perspective. While we are far from out of the woods, we now have vaccines available and much better testing protocols. My entire immediate family has been completely vaccinated, which provides me with the ability and utmost happiness to say that I will be spending my 32nd birthday with all my people once more! Huzzah!
I enter this upcoming weekend with much gratitude for the ability to do this and sheer excitement to have plans to look forward to. There have been a lot of growing pains in the last year and there are still more to come but I am learning to love myself in ways I never thought were possible. Compassion and patience have not been my strongest suits but I hope to approach everyday in my 32nd year with those two things in mind and a grateful heart to have the time back that was lost in the hellish year of the global pandemic.