the incurable dreamer

my dreams are my disease, chasing them my only option

new york state of mind

So, I am sitting in a coffee shop in Greenwich Village, New York, and I don’t know for sure what I want to write, so I am just going to start spewing out some words and hope that, in the end, they make sense.  If they don’t, well, I am sitting in a coffee shop in New York City, writing, and I consider that in itself enough.

Unquestionably, this city takes up the vast majority of my heart, for reasons even I don’t understand – so don’t bother asking me why I love it so much,  I just do.  Pretty sure, though, that I was born with NYC blood pumping through my veins.  I am adopted, so it is completely reasonable to think that my birth mother shagged some guy named Bobby from FDNY Ladder 69 – nobody really knows the story of my conception, so who’s to say it’s not true.

When I was in elementary school, I took a copy of the New York Times to school, and proudly showed it off like I was carrying a personalized key to the city.  None of the other fourth graders gave a shit.  Like, they didn’t even pretend to care.  They just stared at me blankly after I showed it to them, and I was like, ‘It’s a New York Times, FROM NEW YORK CITY.’  And the response usually went something like this, ‘Who cares?  It’s a stupid newspaper!! Show me your marbles and let’s play for them.’  I was in possession of highly sought-after marbles, but it was evident to me as I stood there completely dumbfounded by their disinterest in my newspaper that the ones in my head were slightly different than everybody else’s. This place that I love so much touched my soul before I was barely old enough to point it out on a map and I was aware even back then that it was inexplicably a part of me. Sothis city?  It’s everything.

In 2014, I came to New York (beautifully broken) desperately seeking clarity, and what happened to me over the course of four days was nothing short of miraculous.  The city changed me and also prepared me for the wrath the universe was set to unleash upon me when I returned home.  Those four days are without question the most meaningful and cherished days of my life.  Without them, I fear who I would have become or where I would have ended up.  But, luckily this city saved me, so I really needn’t wonder.

When I arrived in New York on Sunday morning, I was hesitant and terrified that perhaps the magic I had discovered here wasn’t real and that I wouldn’t find it again.  As I began to move throughout the city, that fear came to life.  I felt nothing.  I was painfully numb.  And unlike last time, every step was in vain, each a wasted one, rendering nothing in return.  I was merely going through the motions.  But then, as though the universe had placed a prop ever so strategically on the set of my life, I walked right past Lena Dunham, as I made my way back to my hotel.

After getting over the initial, ‘HOLY FUCKING SHIT, THAT’S LENA DUNHAM!’ in my head, I just thought, ‘Sooo cool’ and carried on my way.  The enormity of that celebrity sighting wasn’t apparent to me at the time, but the seed had been planted.

As I lay in bed that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  Not like that, and not because she is a celebrity I happened upon,  it was her accomplishments and unremitting tenacity that had grabbed hold and taken my mind hostage.  I thought about everything she has achieved with her uncompromising honesty and sense of self, something I admire so greatly about her and wish for myself.  She is living and writing her dream, and I was unable to refrain from the comparison – she had succeeded, and I had failed.  Simple as that.

Who knows what I dreamed about that night, all I know is that after only two hours of sleep the night before, I slept soundly as a new day approached, and when I awoke in the morning, the magic had unexpectedly returned.

From the moment I rose from my bed, my pulse was electric, like I had suddenly realized where I was and the significance.  When my feet hit the pavement, this time it was with purpose and determination and each step meant something.  I opened my heart and mind in eager anticipation of what was to come.

Each day as I have navigated the city streets, it has been with thoughts of Lena, but one’s comparing our dreams rather than her success versus mine because it struck me that I am doing myself a disservice by discounting my own.  My success is deep-rooted happiness, the connections I have nurtured and the hard work it took to become someone I am capable of loving.  I am proud of those things, and consider them to be my greatest successes.  No matter what I achieve in my life, I suspect they will remain so.

Not long ago, Lena was no different than me.  Maybe she is no different than me now, only she is a dreamer who is doing, and I am one who is wishing harder than doing.  Love her or hate her, she compromises herself for no one.  You can’t reach her level of success if you don’t wholeheartedly believe in yourself.  It’s a choice.  She chose to believe in herself, and the results speak for themselves.  It’s time I make that same choice and no longer let doubt cast a dark shadow.  She has inspired me and made me realize that I need to stop wasting time questioning whether I can or can’t, and simply believe that I can.  Time is eventually going to run out.

The other thing I have learned, and perhaps the most significant, is that life is lived in moments.  Forever I will cherish and appreciate the heartache, loss, shame, and pain that I have had to feel and overcome in the last three years to arrive at this place in my life.  But now. Now I need to begin living in a new moment.  I need to separate my past from my present and move forward.  It is time.

The greatest gift I have ever been given is perspective, and he who gave it to me will come with me, safely stored in my heart, so I never forget that the next moment is not a guarantee.  The rest of it, though, I am leaving behind.  It has served its purpose.  I want to live this next moment without the weight of the past, and with only hope, belief, and a heart once again willing to take a chance.

So, tomorrow as my plane ascends high above the streets below; I will look down and feel immense gratitude for this city, for Lena and what they have both taught me.

It’s time to leap.  To risk it all.  And to truly believe that I can.

My dreams await me, and who knows what else or who.

What I finally know and understand, is that I am ready to find out.

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63 Comments

  1. Such a beautiful story, and I’m so pleased you have found the power to believe in yourself. The time is most definitely now ☺

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much, Caroline. It has been such a long journey, but the time is indeed now. And I really can do this! 🙂

  2. I love everything you write, Tanya. But this — I LOVED with a capital LOVE!! It’s very hard to express to those who haven’t experienced it what the unique magic of NYC is, exactly. But it’s real. And you did the very best that can possibly be done with words to describe it. And, yes, Lena kicks ass and I love her and spotting her in her true habitat must have been incredible — but, she ain’t got nothing on you. Your kick-ass attitude is infectious and more inspiring than I can say.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Paul, you have no idea how much it means to me that you loved this post. You are such an inspiration to me and have become a dear friend, and to have you here means so much. And to know that my words reach you makes it all so worth it. The magic in this city is unlike anything I have ever felt, and words escape me sometimes when I am trying to describe it to people. You can only feel it to understand it. I just strolled back into Greenwich after dining at a fabulous little Italian joint in SoHo. How fucking cool is it that I just said that sentence because it happened?! Love this place! Tomorrow when I leave here, it will be with a heavy heart, but a profoundly changed one. Until next time, I will treasure every moment, and hold tightly to the magic I have once again been a part of! Thank you, Paul…for everything.

  3. For many years I have said “you create your own reality”. I wish I had it on a t-shirt or bumper sticker I love it so much. At the same time and although I truly believe this, the doing part is sometimes an insurmountable step. Good for you to take it and create your reality!

    • the incurable dreamer

      If you do find it on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker, please let me know! It is so true but is also one of the hardest things to actually do. I am learning, and my hope is that before it’s too late, I get to the place in life I truly want to be. There’s really no other option is there? Thank you so much for taking the time leave such an encouraging comment!

  4. Anonymous

    Lena! So happy you experienced that in your town…go Tan!

  5. Dink's wife

    Reading this made me very happy for you… I’m glad your trip has given you this clarity. And I’m excited for you! Keep writing, freak. ?

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thanks man! This place always knows what I need better than I do! I am excited for me too! And I will, man, promise!! ?

      • Absolutely “keep writing” Tanya! This is a great piece.

        And timely for me. Because life has sunk lower this week. You are almost speaking for me.

        Almost.

        • the incurable dreamer

          Thanks so much, Dave. Coming from you I consider this a massive compliment. Sorry your week has been rough. Will see you for coffee soon and hopefully a better week lies ahead!

  6. Sandie Bartlett

    I love that you clearly know your spot on this crazy earth. Your writing captures me, makes me cry, laugh and sometimes scratch my head. Tanya dream big, live fully and love the journey.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you, Sandie. I can’t tell you how much your support and words of encouragement mean to me. I intend to do all those things! From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

  7. God, this one, T, THIS one. I felt like I was reading/hearing a combination of ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ and Hemingway…I know super fucking random, but that’s what just came out. The intense, brooding you, the carefree, playful you, the ‘what the hell is this all for’ and ‘what the hell else would it be for?’ parts of you that continue to ebb and flow, jab, punch, and retreat, and continuously morph into this beautiful evolution of an incurable dreamer- slowly rising, leaving a trail of ashes behind as you forge your path…. and we all watch in awe as you make your ascent.

    It seems, my girl, that you found your launching path. So off you go, and I hope you are finally realizing that those highly sought-after marbles are now your words.

    I will gladly trade you.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Brooke, for so many reasons I love you, and so many of them are reflected in this comment to me. Carrie Bradshaw/Hemingway?! Umm, that could only come from you and it’s absolutely perfect. Thank you! This city once again has grabbed hold of my heart and soul and forced me listen, to take in what it was telling me, and to make a choice. And I have. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived here, wasn’t sure exactly what it was I needed, I just knew it was something. When I leave here today, it will be with the knowledge that my future is up to me, and that the past is no longer where I live. I don’t want to live there anymore. Like you said, it’s time to forge a new path and I plan to do just that. Also, it would be very remiss of me not to mention your marbles and how much they have guided me. So often the things you say land on me like a left hook, and I am left stunned, and utterly shocked that you have refused to let me get away with words and thoughts that don’t serve me. You have no idea how much I appreciate that strength and wisdom in you, and what it has taught me. So never wish to trade me, your marbles mean absolutely everything to me, and I am forever changed because of them.

  8. Di

    Hello Tanya…
    There is so much I could say here again, like with every post. I want to dissect it and respond to every morsel of wisdom, honesty and emotion.
    But I can’t and won’t as it wouldn’t do justice to your beautiful post.

    Just know I adore this one so much.
    You are on your way to making your dreams come true, I can feel it and I absolutely understand your feelings of being called to, and most likely, by, a city.
    I’m so happy it found its way through to your heart again after a serendipitous sighting of Lena…

    I’ll leave it there, and I’ll send hugs with this ‘post comment button’…??

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you, Di. This post means a lot to me because I acknowledge and understand that I have reached a much needed turning point in my life – a very unexpected one. My feelings about reaching this place are just far too great for me to capture with words, but I know that I have been transformed and that my mind is set. It feels at this moment like anything is possible. If Lena can do it, why can’t I? I can, actually. I am so grateful for seeing her on the street that day, and am thanking my lucky stars over and over again that I did. I am so ready for this new chapter in my life, and am so grateful that you are here, and will be along for the ride. Your support is so important to me, Di, and I hope you always know that. For being here, and for your friendship…thank you. From the bottom of my heart, just, thank you. ❤️

      • Di

        Hello dear Tanya,
        I can feel through your words that you have the fervor of a new beginning…with so much to look forward to, I’m excited for you that you may now forge your beautiful new future.
        And you know, I’m there in your corner every step of the way…
        Dream, imagine, feel, my friend.
        Much love,
        Di ???

  9. It sounds like New York is for you what San Francisco was to me. Visiting that city changed my life and I can’t wait until I get a chance to go back. One day, I hope I’m even able to live there.

    • the incurable dreamer

      I think it is exactly the same!! This is my third time here and each time it only gets better. You must go back to San Francisco!! I am Canadian, but so badly wish to live in NY one day. Might have to marry an American! ??‍♀️

      • Oh by the way….

        Earlier today… while was thinking about this very post, and what it means…

        On the nearby sound system played… Steve Winwood…

        “… Stand up in a clear blue morning
        Until you see what can be
        Alone in a cold day dawning
        Are you still free? Can you be?….”

        I love it when sound systems get all psychic on you 🙂

        • the incurable dreamer

          Dave, this gave me goosebumps. How fitting are those lyrics?!
          Sound systems do seem to know exactly what it is we need to hear in a particular moment sometimes.

          Spooky, yet so perfect. 🙂

  10. Wow. This brought tears to my eyes. So inspiring, Tanya, full of heart and grace and gratitude. Cities make me anxious (I’m a forest girl), but I can feel your excitement and energy and alive-ness. It’s wonderful. Our journey’s may be hard and full of loss, pain, and grief, but somehow they also bring us to the amazing now where we can chose to open our hearts to love – wherever we are. Beautiful post, my friend. I’m so moved. <3

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much, Diana. It means a whole lot that you were moved by this post. I wrote it with a completely open mind and heart, and hoped that everything I was feeling would come through. If we didn’t suffer in this life or have to overcome adversity we would never change, so I have profound appreciation for everything I have been through. New York just showed me it is time once again to evolve and move on, and I am now home with a whole new sense of purpose and contentment. There is magic on those streets, and I am forever grateful that it found me. Thank you again, Diana. ❤️

  11. Wow, Tanya!! Your post in infectious and I feel empowered, enlivened reading your words. I’m so happy for you with your self-realisation and discovery…New York is one powerful life-changing place!! ?? I’ve only been there once for a few days but it was an amazing experience; I was buzzing from the very moment I stepped off the train into Grand Central Station, electric with excitement and felt I was on a movie set the whole time! Keep the energy and strength within you! ❤️

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much, Annika! That my words made you feel all those things makes me very happy. There is no place on earth like New York, and one must really be there to fully understand its uniqueness. That was my third time there, and my love for it only continues to grow. This trip gave me something unexpected and made me see so much more clearly. And as I sit here, back at home, I feel weightless and energized in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I am so excited to see what is going to happen because I know it is going to be incredible! Thanks for being here Annika, and for sharing this journey with me! Hope you are well! ❤️

  12. Becci

    Lena Dunham!!!!!! No way!!!!! Amazing!!! And just for the record you are no failure… in any way! The tenacity you have to follow your dreams, to make drastic unrelenting changes, to have followed your heart to New York and beyond… that’s success right there! And as the best movie in the world states… no man is a failure who has friends… we all adore you! Keep chasing beautiful! Xo

    • the incurable dreamer

      Becci!!!! I could have slapped her. She was standing RIGHT THERE!! It was such a gift to see her, because her dreams are so similar to mine. If it had been anyone else it wouldn’t have had the same impact. She is a writer who writes!! I am so glad that I turned my mind around, though, and was able to acknowledge where I have come from, what I have been through, and how tirelessly I worked to fight my way through it all. I always seem to sense when I need something, and that for me was New York, and again she has changed me in a way I couldn’t have anticipated. I am free, Becci…from all of it. Tears are in my eyes as I write that because it’s hold on me was so tight I never thought I would escape. But, alas, here I am. And beside me are friends, ones like you who never gave up on me. I adore and appreciate you with every ounce of my being and can’t thank you enough for never tiring of me. I love you so very, very much! ❤️❤️❤️

  13. This is incredibly beautiful and inspiring!

  14. 1.) I love how your followers would all give you a kidney if you needed one, and you would be surrounded in kidneys, piles and piles, and the doctor would be like ” for the love of god, STOP SENDING KIDNEYS!” and we would be like “TANYA NEEDS A KIDNEY! WHERE’S A FORK!?” 2.) I have never been to NYC but it’s on my bucket list 3.) Whatchya gonna do girl…..you’re up to something…

    • the incurable dreamer

      OMG…this comment made me laugh out loud and cry just a little bit!

      1) It is important that you know, you were THE FIRST to offer me a kidney, so unless we are not a compatible match (pfff, AS IF) your kidney is going inside me. That sounded dirtier than it needed to, but you know what I mean, girl. You get first dibs on saving my life. But, BYOF!

      2) You HAVE to go there. It is magic. Plain and simple. You just have to experience it to understand it fully. YOU MUST GO THERE. And if you ever need someone to go with, umm, race you there!

      3) Dude. Things are about to change so much, and TK is about to blow some shit up. It is time to get moving and stop fooling around. Stay tuned; you might get a surprise in your inbox soon!

      4) I love you endlessly. The end.

  15. I absolutely loved this post Tanya. Through your own journey in NYC you’ve described so many of my own thoughts, fears and desires.
    So often we look at others successes and forget our own and we lose sigh of our dreams. We doubt ourselves but you’re right, it’s time to believe we can do it, because we can. You can. Beautiful heartfelt post. Go after your dreams dear girl and fly, you’re beautiful and strong and your wings will carry you. xo

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much, Miriam! I am going to go after my dreams harder than I ever have. Time is just simply too short not to. It is so difficult for us to believe in ourselves, but it shouldn’t be. My hope is that by sharing my challenges and experiences, I will inspire others to keep reaching and go after their dreams with a belly full of fire. You do that for me all that time, so thank you so much for being you, and for setting such a shining example. xo

      • Aw, what a beautiful comment. You shine your own light too Tanya, don’t ever forget that. Yes, go after your dreams hard and feel the freedom in believing you can achieve them. Because you can. Big hugs to you xo ?

  16. CarrieAnne

    Incredible thoughts here. I really appreciate how you are able to express the darkest fears and anxieties that many people share…and then how you are capable of breaking through to the other side, to be inspired and to inspire. Nicely done.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Thank you so much, CarrieAnne. It means so much to me that you not only read my blog, but took the time to share your wonderful thoughts with me. By being honest, I hope to reach people and inspire, so your words mean everything, and I can’t thank you enough for leaving them here! ?

  17. Love this! I can completely relate and I just wrote a similar blog today. You have to just do it, do whatever it is you believe will make you happier, better, or brighter. And DON’T listen to anyone else. anyone. You are the only real voice in your head and you have to believe in yourself. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and look to the best version of the future. Go you!
    http://grilledcheeseloveandfriendship.wordpress.com

    • the incurable dreamer

      I love your attitude and I could not agree more!! So many times I have had to dust myself off, but what’s the alternative? There really isn’t another viable option if my goal is to become the best version of myself. That truly is what I want – so onwards and upwards, as they say!! I love your blog and am so happy you too are doing whatever the hell makes you happy! You are an inspiration! 🙂

  18. God, I miss NYC. I think about it every day and keep trying to visit as much as I can. I was born east coast, and it will always be a part of me. I find myself gravitating to movies and TV shows that take place there. Even to just take in the scenery. Thanks for the trip back. I can live it through you for the time being.

    • the incurable dreamer

      There is magic to be found on the streets of NYC, and just like you, I watch movies and TV shows simply because they are based there. There is something so special about it, and unless you have been there, it is impossible to understand it. I hope you find your way back there someday soon, I know what it feels like to miss it.

  19. For some reason I am not able to “follow” you via the wordpress reader.

    • the incurable dreamer

      WordPress Reader hates my blog for some reason. Apparently, because I am self-hosted things are way less convenient for me. Sorry!

  20. Love this:). Isn’t is amazing how some places just grab us, as if they were the home we never knew? So does this mean a move? A stay? Or just renewed confidence that you GOT this, girl? 🙂

    • the incurable dreamer

      It is amazing how that happens, like in a past life we were once a part of it or something. It is magic. You know, I have dreamed of living there since I was a kid, but more importantly, right now, I do finally feel like I got this. Maybe that’s the real magic, right?! It’s time to make some things happen! Thank you so much for this! 🙂

  21. Ely

    Ok! First of all- I love you! Lol! I think you’re a A PHENOMENAL writer! Also- I’ve had a larger-than-fucking-life girl crush on Lena forever and she is one of my heroes (Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler and Tina Fey and are up there too lol)! She inspires me and she is the REASON I came to this blog after almost a year of being depressed about being depressed about NOT writing (did I lose you? Lol!) she’s EVERYTHING. I strive to be as confident and red-bloody-raw as she is (I just referred to her as a menstraution, fantastic fail). Anywho. I love your style and you’re crazy talented. You officially have a new friend!
    Also- I’m unable to leave comments from the WP app on your posts for some reason!

    http://www.shegivesnofox.com

    • the incurable dreamer

      How can you NOT have a mad girl-crush on Lena? I mean, she is fucking amazing. She speaks her mind and takes on subjects others don’t dare, and she looks controversy in the face, and says ‘WHAT?’ Shit, I can’t believe she was right beside me. I am so thankful for that moment because it was the punch in the face I needed. And those other women you mentioned? Fucking love every single one of them!! There are so many strong women out there leading the charge and inspiring girls. We so need them! And how happy am I that you decided to start a blog?! (THANK YOU, LENA!) As soon as I started reading it, I thought, ‘YES!’ And then laughed and shook my head in joyful satisfaction, as I devoured every word. Never stop writing because you are talented, funny and raw which is something I very much admire. You too have a new friend because I fucking love you! I am so excited to read some more of your posts! WP Reader hates me for some reason, so people can’t leave comments. I think I need to change my host or something. What the fuck, no clue!! However you did it, thank you, for finding a way to leave this comment, it made me gush and super happy!! ?

      • Ely

        So funny story! WP never told me you responded and then I was kind of sad!!! And I came back to your blog and totally noticed you responded like the best fucking response ever lol!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your words and your motivation and being so badass inspirational seriously!!!!! It means the world. I’m so incredibly greatful to have found women like you here- this has become such a HUGE support system and it’s so important to me. Thank you again beautiful lady!

        • the incurable dreamer

          WordPress is an asshole. I just found this in Spam!!! What the hell?? I am SO glad you found my comment because I meant every word! I LOVE the way you think, and I am so excited to go on this road trip with you! This blogging world is so special, and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of it as well. Everyone is so encouraging and inspiring. How fucking refreshing to have people believing in you and rooting you on! I am a big fan, girl, and am totally rooting you on! Keep being you, because you are amazing! Big hug!

  22. I hope it goes well for you and that you find what you’re looking for soon. 🙂 🙂

  23. This was one of the most enjoyable and inspiring posts I’ve read on WP in a long time.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Wow, thanks so much! I am so glad you enjoyed it. Means a lot that you did!!

  24. No wonder people can’t get enough of it. Thanks for this one!

  25. That’s wonderful the city is like a genie lamp (or the genie) for you, though no one snaps her fingers to find all is paradise – that city puts you to work! It was my stomping grounds ’til I left for college in PA. I went to Stuyvesant High and the Village was my second home those years.

    Onward and upward,
    D.

    • the incurable dreamer

      Yes, it does make you work, but in the best possible way. How cool that it was your stomping grounds for a time!! Living there is a dream of mine…one day! Onward and upward, indeed.
      Thanks, D!! xo

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