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NEW YORK LIFE
A lot of people told me, if you want to get somewhere in your life, you go out there and you MAKE the opportunities for yourself. They were sure as he** right. I learned early that there isn’t going to be anybody to spoon-feed you in reality, and there certainly aren’t going to be people willing to move themselves out of the way on your path to getting where you want to be.
I worked a lot, in fact, almost obsessively, to earn something for myself. It could be considered selfish to some people but in all fairness, I couldn’t care less. I revised like I’d never revised before, I went to every study group, read every book there was in existence to take the knowledge.
Want to hear what my dad told me when I told him I passed college with the best grades in class?
“It’s a dog eat dog world, and everybody is in this game for themselves. So get used to the blood-spill, and the baring of your teeth when things take a turn for the worst, because trust me, they will. Just because things are all dandy now, doesn’t guarantee they’ll stay that way.”
As you can probably tell, I’m not your ordinary twenty-one year old lounger who dumps around with lack of ambition in the middle of a New York City dump. I had somewhere to get to a few years ago, and I worked pretty da** hard to make sure I didn’t end up bad ways. Unlike most people my age, my head was filled with wisdom. I didn’t have time to act like my life would just fix itself into something amazing, I had to physically push the wheels into action.
About fifteen interviews in, and three weeks after I had been declared old enough for internship I received a phone call detailing that I had been accepted at New York Chronicles.
When I told my dad I’d found a job, he was ecstatic. We were sat at the dining table in the kitchen, him with a cigarette lit up in his hand and a Fosters can in the other and me with a brand spanking new briefcase.
“So, I have some news” I looked up at his face, completely out of this world.
“Guy get you pregnant?” He didn’t even look at me, his eyes burning into the ashtray and his mouth curled around the cigarette once again. He took two lungs of nicotine and then a swig of Fosters.
“Actually, no.” I didn’t even have a boyfriend at the time, but I knew that didn’t make a difference round where we lived. “I got the job. You know, up at New York Chronicles.”
Upon hearing of the news, he carefully extracted the cigarette from his mouth and ground it into the ashtray until the end was completely stubbed out. For a few seconds he didn’t speak at all. Then, he told me the most important information I would ever hear in my life: “Kid, there are going to be people ready to kick you down from this moment on. This city, this world, it’s all full of scum. Now you’re going be surrounded by this stuff every day, under a magnifying glass, up close and personal with a lot of dangerous people. You’ve just about made it to the point where you’re going to be out there, trying to make it for yourself, pave a future and all that and you ain’t going to realise when it starts to go wrong. You be careful now. Most importantly: Go out there and make your dad proud.”
I thought I saw a smile, and then it disappeared as quickly as it came. He patted my hand, took a final sip of the Fosters can and threw it clumsily into the bin. After that, he plodded off to the front room. There was a mini-fridge in there, he hadn’t finished for the night. Family Guy was on back-to-back till the morning.
See me and my dad, we had that kind of connection. Didn’t even need words half the time. So when he’d said his bit, I sat there for a while thinking about it. It wasn’t difficult to tell that he had mom on his mind. Must have been where he got that scum idea from. Bet she had no idea about how we were, bet she didn’t care. It didn’t bother me though, because I didn’t, no, I physically (with all the might I possessed) COULDN’T give a da** about her.
He wasn’t seen to be the best example of a dad, but he was the only person who knew me.