The time has come, lovelies, for Factory Girl to hang up her heels and dust off her old, trusted pair of combat boots.
“Life knocked me off my platforms
So I pulled out my first pair of boots
Bought on the street at Astor place
Before New York was run by suits
And I suited up for the long walk
Back to myself closer to the ground now
With sorrow and stealth”
— Ani Difranco
Now darling, don’t panic—I’ve not metamorphosed into a tired, wicked crone on you. Patent leather combat boots are NOT frumpy flats (I wouldn’t dare wear flats. PSA: Boots are not flats).
It just hit me like a fist one fine Floridian winter day: It’s time to stop teetering about in painful stilettos in sunny Sarasota. In fact, it might be time to allow my feet to caress the solid pavement of New York City (protected by the thick rubber sole of 20-hole Doc Martens, of course).
I was born in New York City. My great grandparents are Eastern European immigrants whose names hold court on the fragile wall of Ellis Island, thus imprinted on the heart of New York. Manhattan is seeped into my bloodline like an unfortunate cousin, and regardless of what ZIP code I’ve called home over the past two and a half decades, I carry her with me wherever I go. The music of the city — the pulse of stomping feet and diversified languages spilling out over the sidewalks and into the streets — is the soundtrack that constantly plays in my head.
Through the beautiful will of family and fate, I somehow I ended up living in Sarasota for the past three years (along with a brief two-year cringeworthy stint in high school). And it’s been a wild and wonderful ride that I certainly didn’t expect to be as life-changing as it was.
I found myself in Florida after living in London, where I was feeling hopelessly lost, heart-achingly depressed and confronting some hard-to-look-in-the-eye demons.
What was supposed to be a two-week holiday to visit my family and attain some well-needed vitamin D turned into a three-year whirlwind. No, I didn’t plan on moving to gorgeous Sarasota, but as soon as my plane touched down at SRQ, my inner voice told me to stay.
I’m so glad I listened.
Living in Sarasota truly, madly, deeply taught me to find my voice, and Factory Girl was at the forefront of that journey. TWIS gave me the oh-so-necessary creative freedom and absolute trust one needs when searching for her authentic self.
Through creating the Factory Girl blog/vlog, I truly learned how stupendously supportive and special the Sarasota community is. Whether I was covering a fierce fundraiser or simply spilling my guts out with tried-and-true breakup survival tips (after an excruciatingly painful heartbreak), the community always had my back by staying engaged in my little posts, sharing my videos and encouraging me to keep creating.
And I was the luckiest girl in the word to have the incredible Colin Reid (my videographer/editor) by my side, turning my ideas into reality and giving me the ability to connect with the community.
Through the vessel of Factory Girl, I learned some mind-blowingly valuable life lessons.
I learned that my best work comes out of vulnerability. I learned that it’s okay to not please everyone, and that negative feedback comes with the territory when you're outspoken (and being outspoken isn't just a game for the conservative boys club — us girls have a lot to say).
Most importantly, I learned that my greatest desire, above and beyond any, is to connect with others — in an honest way. I used to create art from such a heroic and closed-off point of view; I wanted to control the image you had of me. Doing Factory Girl, I discovered I’m far happier baring all and letting you see me as I am.
For it’s what allows me to connect with you.
So why did the girl in the luxurious Sunshine State with her dream job and a crew of the most fabulous, colorful and wonderful partners in crime leave it all behind for an overpriced six-story walkup apartment in the bitter cold — and sometimes bitter lonely — NYC?
Did I get a big-time gig? Am I chasing love? Did a golden opportunity fall into my tulle-adorned lap?
None of the above, thankyouverymuch.
I embarked on this high-risk move, because my inner-voice told me to. An intangible feeling was burning up my insides and insisting I had to GO. You can call it instinct, gut, heart, fate, intuition — whatever. Experience has taught me that when a feeling that strong erupts in your body, you must listen to it.
Your intellect can talk you out of anything. It’s too expensive, it’s too competitive, it’s too cold, it’s too high-risk, oh how will I survive? You can attempt to stifle the burn of ambition by letting your fearful brain win. But the burn will always be there — following you wherever you go, like unwanted admirer or an embarrassing person with whom you publicly made out with whilst drunk.
You can put off a life change forever, save into oblivion, wait to get the courage to break up with your partner, wait to get your dream job ...
Or you could take a giant risk and leap into a new opportunity, kicking and screaming the whole time. I chose the latter.
I chose the latter, because in the last three years, I’ve learned to squash self-doubt and trust myself. Trust that I can survive, and through the will of hard work, desire and an unbreakable strong moral ground, I can do anything I put my mind to.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay. I’ve learned that loneliness, heartache, discomfort and rejection are all totally survivable parts of life, and often accompany a risk. I’ve learned that the voice inside my heart, the voice that tells me to go, to stay, to not trust a person, when to go home and when to take a leap of faith, is far wiser than my fearful thoughts.
I write this little article from my tiny six-story walkup apartment on the Upper East Side. My view is the glamorous gray of another building. I can see dead, dried flowers withering away in my neighbor’s window. I want to tell her to throw out the bloody things, but she could be a crazy old lady who will make my life hell. So I keep my mouth shut. Strapped to my feet are flat, steel-toed boots. It feels like a new chapter. I feel ready.
As I close this incredible chapter of my life, I hate to see the book of Factory Girl end!
I think it’s time Factory Girl had a new voice.
What do you think, dear reader? Are you the next Factory Girl (or boy)?