On the eve of every Thanksgiving, I always think back to the ONLY time the lacrosse art has been the prime focus during the Holiday event. It’s not about Black Friday, or Cyber Monday Sales as a business owner. It’s about another thing that tests every human being: Sacrifice.
My senior year in art school had me doing my senior thesis titled, ‘Lacrosse: An Experience Through History’ – an illustrated history of lacrosse from the Native Americans to the present day. Due to a highly accurate and stereotypical belief of ‘artists aren’t athletes, and athletes aren’t artists’ I felt that my thesis was misunderstood, or overlooked. How could I blame a crowd that never liked, nor participated in a specific subject matter?
But I personally felt behind in the work. The competitor in me wanted to show my utmost expertise and unquestionable experience, thus making it very hard for myself. The Monday of Thanksgiving week I told my parents of my wanting to stay on campus to focus on my thesis. They agreed. My art school dorm was in Brooklyn, and my home was in Manhattan. While majority of the students were heading to airports, and major train stations like Penn Station and Grand Central or waiting for parents to pick them up, my home was a quick, easy and highly affordable subway ride through NYC’s, the East River.
With an empty dorm room, free from roommates and suite mates, my drafting table was ready with the materials to get to work. It was Wednesday and the campus already had a unique silence. I knew that it was going to be boring, yet productive, so an ‘all-nighter’ was in the books. To prepare for the all-nighter, a trip to the local deli, or ‘bodega’, to purchase a couple packs of, a former bad habit, in Marlboro Lights was made. On the way to the store, a lady in her 50’s asked me if I “had a place to spend Thanksgiving?”, and then offered me a seat with her family in the neighborhood. I lied and told her that I was going home much later to beat the crowd in Manhattan, and thanked her for the kind offer.
The work started and continued through the night. From my dorm room I could see the lights of the former Twin Towers illuminating my hometown – a city. During breaks I would smoke a cigarette on my 14th floor balcony looking at Manhattan and thinking of the many ‘reunion parties’ taking place the night before Thanksgiving, especially my grade school friends who were home from college.
I was multitasking. Working on current pieces, starting new ones and revisiting and touching up old ones.
On Thanksgiving Day, a classmate who was from the West Coast and decided to also stay on campus, needed to use my computer to work on a paper due to the computer lab being closed. It was good to have another person to talk to in the room and get an outside set of eyes for feedback. But, when it was time to pause for what was Thanksgiving dinner, we both went to the former White Castle on Brooklyn’s infamous Myrtle Avenue for a ‘sack of sliders and fries’. Yes, that’s right.
I never left my room on Friday as it was business as usual. The weekend came and Sunday was the noise of returning students. But the work was done – a lot of work was done!
I always wondered, what if I maybe just spent all of Thanksgiving at home, or maybe for a few hours? After that experience, I promised that I would never do that again, regardless of always asking myself if it was worth it, especially during the Thanksgiving time frame.
21 years after graduating college, you can’t help to keep thinking because what was done, or sacrificed, for a passing grade to accumulate credit for graduation, has turned into a very fulfilling career. The career I ALWAYS wanted.
But in the spirit of the Thanksgiving Holiday, I’m always thankful. Thankful for having played, and still thriving in a sport that keeps me active, young and full of energy. Thankful for a certain crowd, manifestly teammates both old and new, while not artistic have validated my artwork and put it on the professional map. If it weren’t for them, my target audience, none of this would be possible. And thankful for my family, friends and parents who understand that sometimes going after a certain something requires sacrifice, while keeping me grounded during the unknown process.
I’m very thankful everyday.