New York City, 2009

It hadn’t been 6 months since I left and here I was. Back in NYC. My thoughts were clouded with uncertainty as I heaved my NIKE duffel bag over my shoulder and onto the A Train. I couldn’t wait until I got back to 125th Street. And as I sat there, admiring the elevated view of Queens, NY, I began to reflect on the past week. I had officially dropped out of York University. I didn’t care that classes were back up and running after a 3-month plus strike. I was fed up, and I had no intention whatsoever of spending the summer of 2009 in school. That was last summer’s purpose. This summer, I was determined to grind. Determined to put myself in the right situation to make things happen. Perhaps that explained my impulse trip back to New York. I had exactly $92 US in my pocket. I had just sold my first and only car that I owned for $650 CAD, which worked out to about $620 US. My return flight was just over 300. And I had just under $500 stashed away in my shoe box at home. Needless to say, money was scarce. My rent was covered for the next 2 months and luckily for me, my landlord was pretty chill but still. Where was I going to make money? Was this trip a push in the right direction? Did I need to stay out here this time instead of going back to Toronto when my money was dry like I had did 5 months earlier? The frustration in my inability to answer these questions was overcome with interest as I watched a bunch of high school kids board the train. They looked like they had just come from school.

“I’m telling you my nigga, yo. Rick Ross is not going anywhere. 50 can’t take shots at the Bawse.”

The kid was right. Rick Ross wasn’t going anywhere. I had seen 50 end numerous rapper’s careers but this beef seemed different. I returned my thoughts on myself. Why was I here again? Did I really just travel 800km to ride these MTA subways? Or did I have unfinished filming business to attend to? I flicked my Jays fitted up, exposing my forehead and allowed my hair to breathe for a minute. “I know why I’m here” I thought. I looked down at my right forearm to read part of my new tattoo. “Whatever affects one directly affects all directly.” The global economy was a mess. I knew that. But if I couldn’t make a career in film back in the T Dot, what make me so certain that I could do it here? The demand for jobs in any job field was 10 to 1 compared to Canada. I had seen, first hand, what this recession was doing to the citizens of the United States in the summer of 2008. The biggest question that I needed an answer to was what this meant for me.

An excerpt from “A Smart Story”, Chapter 20: Shades of Grey



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