Dear Michael and Caroline,
My first real full-time job after college turned out to be just about the best imaginable. All I really wanted to do for a living after finishing college was go work as a reporter on a newspaper.
So I wrote letters and sent resumes to about 70 newspapers around the country, including, of course, New York City. Nothing – no interest, no interviews and still no job.
I’d looked for a job for about a year, though admittedly none too hard. And I’d gotten a few small freelance reporting assignments, mainly doing a three-part series about then newly developed Roosevelt Island for a weekly newspaper called The Manhattan East (my first article fetched me all of $15, then I got a raise to a princely $20).
I was living on East 7th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, in a $150-a-month studio apartment, and the bar mitzvah savings I was living on were just about gone. I’d graduated from college a whole year earlier and still had yet to get any kind of career going, let alone a journalistic or literary one.
Then one day I saw a job ad in the paper and went in for an interview. It was a new weekly community newspaper, the Eastside Courier, that covered Manhattan’s East Side from 14th to 79th Streets. And I got the gig.
I remember one moment afterwards particularly well. I walked out of the building on Park Avenue South and 17th Street and a light snow was coming down, the streets thinly coated with white. I looked up at the sky, just to watch the flakes falling, and happened to turn my eyes straight into the glare of a street lamp. I was already excited about getting my first real job, an adult job, ecstatic about going to work at a real newspaper and making $175 a week being a reporter. I was looking forward to telling my family and friends and everyone being proud of me, all those doubts about whether I could even find a job finally laid to rest.
And because of my angle of vision at that moment, the light from the streetlamp refracted through the shower of snow, and I saw a kaleidoscope of colors, a whole rainbow. I squinted in disbelief at the spectacle, my eyelashes wet with snow, and the prism effect became exaggerated, the rainbow colors shooting out in bright spokes. It was quite a moment, full of fate, and I was giddy, just deliriously happy, about this important step, much needed, toward becoming a grown-up (though full membership in that organization was still probably about 10 years ahead).
P.S. – See part 2 tomorrow.