My life has never been hard.
I was born and raised in a small town where my last name came not only with certain expectations, but also with more opportunities than most. I’ve received a hand written apology note after being issued a traffic ticket and as the daughter of a travel agent have stamped nearly a dozen countries into my passport pages before reaching the age of 23.
The youngest child by six years, I watched my sister become the youngest assistant district attorney of Oneida County and my brother graduate Ivy League to become a mechanical engineer. Hence, the question of college was never “if?”, but “where?”
Right out of high school I felt the pull of the Green Mountains and headed north from my Upstate New York home to Castleton, Vt. In an attempt to balance a collegiate basketball schedule with a more than demanding late night social life, and squeezing academics somewhere in between, I quickly learned I had spent the first 18 years of my life riding off the accomplishments of those who shared my last name. To be Molly DeMellier would mean nothing until I made it mean something.
After two years of pretending I still felt passion every time I laced up my sneakers, I stepped off the court and gave up the game I thought defined me. I threw myself into my writing and professional goals and allowed Molly DeMellier to become more than just the pair of high-top Nikes that was the first to walk out of the locker room and into the party every weekend.
In the three and half years it took me to earn my degree, Castleton molded me from an over-privileged 18-year-old to a confidant woman. Just a month after graduation, I took my last glimpse of a cow and final breath of clean air and made the move from rural Vermont to Manhattan in pursuit of my M.S. in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from NYU.
It’s a phase of my life I’ve decided to refer to as #ManhattanProjectRedux. As a person of complete disregard for middle ground, I know one day I’ll look back to find myself on one side of the bomb or the other.
Although I’m only a few weeks into #ManhattanProjectRedux, the subway has shown me things I can never unsee and introduced me to smells I didn’t know a human body could produce.
Recently, a few rounds at a pub with my sister and her boyfriend in Midtown quickly turned the late night into early morning and I had to get back to my apartment on the Upper East Side for a power nap before meeting friends for pre St. John’s basketball game mimosas later that day. After paying $122 for a 30-day metro card my soul and ego were equally crushed so I disregarded any suggestions of a cab and made the solo trip underground to catch the Lexington Avenue express line uptown.
Strangely astute in my slightly inebriated state, a nearly unconscious man with both arms tucked into his coat sitting across from a completely unconscious man with a lap full of Pokémon cards caught my eye. The man began to pull his arms out of his jacket and twist around.
I thought: This is how it ends. Drunkenly shot on the subway. #ManhattanProjectRedux questions prematurely answered; ousted like Hiroshima.
I watched as he began to roll a thick paper between his chapped fingertips. Having just left Vermont, I recognized this Green Mountain motion, and while I’ve made my way around a bowl without a spoon a time or two I still could not fathom a person rolling a blunt and smoking it while on a public transit.
With this George Jung interpretation of the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” behind me, follow me along each week as I learn to accept grocery stores with $6 boxes of cereal and navigate my Irish temper through a tourist group of selfie sticks in Grand Central.