do it

do it: pay it forward

Let me first say that so many people help me out on a regular basis. I would never get by on my own in this city without my parents pulling me out of financial (and emotional) binds. My family and friends back home are proud of what I'm doing here and believe in me. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me going. A week before I moved to Astoria, my dad came to visit me with his girlfriend and my Gram. It was my Gram's first trip to NYC, and on her first day she bought a lottery scratch ticket. She won $20. Everyday we were in such a rush going here and there, trying to squeeze all of NYC into a 3 day visit. On her last day she pulled the ticket out and gave it to me. She said she forgot to cash it in, and I should buy something for myself with it. For the rest of that week I was packing up my Brooklyn apartment, and tossed it into my box of scrapbook stuff- photos, ticket stubs, admission bracelets... I forgot about it. I'm eking by on a super tight budget right now, so when I pulled out that ticket yesterday my excitement was comparable to Charlie Bucket and the golden ticket. I got dressed, put on some makeup, bundled up against the wintry wet weather, and cashed the ticket on my way to Union Square. I had my postcards and markers in my pocket for my Love for NYC project, and I wanted to get some hot cider, apples, and fresh pasta from the Union Square Farmer's Market with the $20. I had only walked a few paces through the market and saw a mother and young daughter selling pottery. It was already sundown and getting very cold, and the girl didn't have a jacket. One piece on their table was shouting at me- this gorgeous bowl, with periwinkle blue and green glaze, with a foamy white crackle glaze over it all... it looked like the ocean. Everything on the table had a price tag on it but this piece. When I asked, the woman told me it was $25, and her favorite piece she's ever made. I stood there for a minute, looking at the other pieces. The girl whispered to her mum, and the woman said "I would sell it for $20." The amount was all I had to spend, but the little girl reminded me of myself- working craft fair booths with my wares when I was young. She had been outside in the cold all day, wearing just a sweatshirt. I pulled the $20 out of my pocket and tucked the bowl into my bag. The girl told me it was their first sale all day. I walked to the street, and with no more money to spend and the temperatures dropping, I turned around and walked back towards the subway. The mother I bought the bowl from was packing up her table, telling the daughter that now they could go get grilled cheese sandwiches and hot chocolate on their way home. The girl was dancing around the table, so excited. Brought tears to my eyes and made me feel selfish for having weighed buying the bowl or buying myself a hot drink. And now this morning, I was telling my mum this story and she's buying me breakfast at my favorite place... you get what you give.