New Me in New York

I went to New York last week.

Every time I fly in, I cry.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I just do.  I have always cried upon landing.  The minute I see the skyline, I burst into tears.

I think it’s because it feels like I am finally home.

The last time I flew into the City was in 2009.  I was flying back from Amsterdam, where I had just completed an almost two-week tour with the Brian Setzer Orchestra.  We toured Canada and parts of Europe.  I had gotten special permission to take a hiatus from my off-Broadway show.  My contract would end in just five weeks, and I was completely at a loss as to what I should do.

On the long flight back, the man sitting next to me had a mild heart attack.  He was sitting with his family and needed to lie down after the fact, so they asked me if I would mind giving up my seat.  The plane was full, so I was placed me in the jump seat for a few hours.  Finally, I was re-seated: in the very back.  It smelled like shit.  But, because I had been so nice and accommodating, I was given an extra glass of wine and a tiny porcelain Dutch house with the airline’s logo on the bottom.  I studied it for a moment, slammed my glass of wine, and started furiously writing.

July 19, 2009

On the plane back to New York…tour is over.  I had to change seats because they guy next to me just about died — wonder what they gave him as a “prize”?

Last night’s gig was amazing.  I was invited to fly in a private jet to Pori from Helsinki.  We drank Dom Perignon…what a treat!

Yet I couldn’t truly enjoy it.

My marriage is falling apart.  [My husband] is nicely trying to explain that his feelings for me have changed – that it broke him when I left (the first two months), and now he doesn’t need me like he used to.

He’s going on the road until mid-October and then not sure what, but it looks like six more months in Hawaii for whatever.  He wants me to stay in New York.  I don’t want to.  I regret everything; how could I not?  He says “our decision changed everything,” and “our relationship is different”.  All I know from that is doom and gloom.

I thought You wanted me in New York, God.  I thought I was supposed to be there.  I was wrong. 

I am numb.  I feel sick.  I single-handedly unraveled my marriage…  WHY?  Why didn’t I listen to the people who said DON’T GO?

And [husband] says I could have heart the sadness in his voice but obviously I was so self-centered and didn’t pay enough attention.  And now it is too late.

I don’t know when I’m going to see him again.

Part of me is angry that he gave up on me so easily.  I have sat at home for six years waiting for him to come back.  I have endured his selfishness and when it was finally my turn, it bit me in the ass.  I cried to him that I was so sorry but he deosn’t understand why I am so sad.  He says this opportunity (for him) would have never been a thought had I not left.  So, whoopee, I left, and a world of opportunity opened up for him and closed on me.

What is awful is that I am alone, broke and facing unemployment.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO DO.  It is agonizing.  Crippling.  Heart-breaking.

Thoughts run through my head:

~He met someone else
~Maybe we should separate
~I will go back to LA until tour and then move to NY in January 2010.
~Where is God in all of this?  I thought we were special.  I thought we would prove to the world that our love was different; we were different, and that was good.
~What the heck is going to happen to my career?
~Will I be alone?
~Will I ever have children?
~Who am I, why am I here?  What am I supposed to do?
Going home solves nothing.  Perhaps it will provide some sort of solace for me after my 32nd birthday/contract ends.

~Where will he be on our 10th wedding anniversary?  Where will I be?
~Am I getting divorced?
~Why do I think such final, cryptic, awful thoughts?

I haven’t really slept in two days…how much longer is this suffering going to last?  I don’t have the strength to deal with this.  Last night, I Skyped [Husband] from my hotel room in Helsinki. I told him that I had no career or husband.  He said I have both but I can’t see it.  Maybe I am too pessimistic.  I am so grateful for my opportunities but maybe I’ve been granted too much freedom.

Maybe I am destined to have loved only him, but for a short period of time.

I can’t imagine loving anyone else.  I never want to get married ever again.  It’s too painful.  Maybe I’ll end up a bitchy old spinster in NYC with a sperm-bank baby when I am 40.  Gross.

I failed, God.  I failed, failed, failed.  I made my career too much of a priority and I missed the window of opportunity of grace and selflessness.

I don’t know what You are doing, God.  I don’t know how I can continue like this.  I shouldn’t have put everything into my marriage OR career.  And here I am, totally financially broke, totally broken.  Do with me what You will.  I want so much to turn away from You in my pain and brokenness but YOU ARE ALL I HAVE.

You, God, are all I have.

You are all I have.

You are the only one who knows me intimately and deeply and You are the only one here now.  There is no husband.  There is only You. You are my God.  And You give and You take away.

I don’t know what else to do but turn in absolute desperation to You.  I thought I knew what I was doing but it is so abundantly clear.

I don’t know what You have for me.
I don’t know what you have for my husband.
I don’t know if You still will have us together.  I don’t 
even know when I’m going to see my husband again.

I have to let him go.

It hurts.  It’s not fair.



Five weeks later, I would fly out of New York, back to Los Angeles.  I sobbed and sobbed upon leaving, because I didn’t know when I’d be back again.  I would return, just a few short months later (via tour bus), but my world was upside down.  It was hard to be back in New York during that time.  I was working so hard to save my doomed marriage.

Fast forward to December 19, 2011.  For the first time in two years, I finally returned home.

I gazed out the small airplane window as we landed, yearning to see that skyline I love so much.  It just so happened that I was seated on the wrong side of the plane, so all I saw was Long Island City and Queens.  Still, it was enough to send me into my typical, blubbering blurb of salty tears.

Tears of joy.

I gathered my luggage, wrapped my scarf around my neck and fought my way towards a NYC taxi.  I wanted to clap and squeal when I slid into the backseat of the cab; I wanted to hug my cab driver and pat the turban around his head.  I wanted to kiss the pavement, but I maintained my composure.

It just felt so good – so right – to be back.

My schedule was full for my brief trip to the City.  The next day, after breakfast in Union Square with a talented friend, I strolled up Broadway.  I popped into my favorite dish store, Fishs Eddy, to do some Christmas shopping.  I had about an hour to kill before my next reunion with a dear friend, so I continued to happily wander around.

As I found myself nearing the Flatiron District, I stopped, and gazed up at the Empire State Building.   Something didn’t feel right, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

And then I remembered.

The last time I was in the neighborhood was with my (ex) husband.  It was March of 2009, just a few weeks after I had moved to the City.  It would be the only time my husband would visit me in the short seven months I lived there.

I don’t remember many details, or why we were in the area, but I do remember exactly where we sat.  We took a picture, with the Empire State Building looming in the background.  We both have forced smiles on our faces.  My husband spent the majority of our time together that weekend, texting his lover.

All of this came flooding back to me as I stared up at the Empire State Building.  Out of the blue, I started to cry.  The old, familiar grief welled up inside of me and I had to let it out.  I pulled up the same chair I had sat upon with my husband, nearly three years ago, sat down, and allowed myself to sob, quietly.

That moment surprised me.  Grief will sneak up on you at the most unexpected moments.  At the same time, I felt a sense of renewal and strength.


As I wiped my tears away, I silently reclaimed New York for me again.  Then, I slowly realized that it had always been mine.  I was supposed to be there in 2009, no matter what. I hadn’t failed at anything.  As I reflected upon the New Me in New York, I marveled at how easily I fit back in.  It actually felt like I hadn’t ever left.  Nothing about the City had changed in two years, except for one thing.

I am the one who has changed.

In a few short days, 2012 will be upon us.  I have no idea what is in store for me in this New Year, but I am hopeful and expectant.  Funny how my questions have remained the same over the past few years.  I still wonder what the heck is going to happen with my career.  I still yearn to live in New York.  I still wonder if I’ll ever have children.

For now, I know this:  There is no rush to arrive.  We never, truly “arrive”.  More importantly, we never miss any window of opportunity for grace.   I’ll always be embarking upon a journey, and I hope to keep changing and growing into the woman that God wants me to be.

5 thoughts on “New Me in New York

  1. Sophi Gilliland says:

    Closure is so important isn’t it???? And hey…….I LOVE New York too! I have been there once and will think of you when I am there next month! It did feel like home…….can’t wait to see if it feels the same way the second time around! If it does then we’ll have to take a girly trip there together!

  2. guyandpatty says:

    Precious Leslie, I read all 47 postings today. Wow – I had no idea what you were (and are) going through. My heart breaks for you and the darlings I love who are hurting from the awful pain divorce (and even marriage) brings. Thank you for sharing your heart so transparently. I love you and will continue to pray for you!

  3. Angel says:

    I heart You.

  4. elizetal says:

    Wow, the last paragraph. Making it my own motto for 2012 if you don’t mind. Beautiful.

  5. Beth Schreiber says:

    You are awesome, Les! ❤ you! And I know God has awesome plans for you and I am so proud that I know such an amazing, strong woman of God! Wishing you huge blessings in the new year and always! Love, Beth

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