“So what do you really do? What’s your other job?”

 This is a compliment. Or at least meant to be. You see, I pay my bills by serving food and drinks to strangers and I can tell you that the holiday spirit doesn’t translate to the tip line. However, it’s honest work and it puts a roof over my head. I work on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and mostly only 4–5 hours at a time, I’m fortunate. And what these lovely individuals are inquiring about is why the heck I’m still slinging margaritas and shrimp cocktails.

They’re acknowledging I’m gifted. It’s humbling but bittersweet. Knowing that I was meant for something bigger is my first waking thought. That thought fueled a journey through Fire and Police career paths for the last five years. I was called to serve others, be part of a team and put my head down and work. Go to sleep at night knowing I did something good. I was obsessed. Scored the highest, ran the fastest, interviewed the strongest. But no academy for me. A DUI at 22 has all but kept me out of the contest. I’m also fortunate to still be here. I blew a .24 and that still terrifies me. No one else was involved, and my life drastically changed, for the better.

I grew up idolizing Derek Jeter, belting Frank Sinatra during car rides with my dad, and making the three-hour roundtrip to San Diego with my mom twice a month to visit family. I dreamt I would play shortstop for the New York Yankees, inhaled Jack-in-the-Box before baseball tournaments on the weekends, and cruised the I-5 freeway getting schooled up on the Temptations, Eagles, and Hootie and the Blowfish. I was put in GATE in school; Gifted and Talented Education, made the all-star teams, and lived for sleepovers with my teammates, with the bluish hue of Nintendo on a TV shining brightly until the early morning. Good living. I’d say I was spoiled.

Packing a duffle was second nature. I started going back and forth between my parent's houses at age three. They split and it’s one thing I’ll never understand and swear to never do myself. I love them both to pieces and I like to think I have their best qualities but the ramifications of having divorced parents at such a young age never heal, they evolve. I’ve never seen my parents kiss. There was no image of love to reference, no example. I used to notice how my friends’ parents saw each other and how their homes had a different feel about them. I coveted that, and I still do when I’m around them. It has become my life’s goal to have a family supported by love, with true companionship cultivating comfort throughout. For once, a home.

Catholic high school was baseball, Theatre, girls, anchoring the Friday news, mentoring freshmen, campus ministry, and being voted best dressed at a school with uniforms. Still puzzled about that last one. But I excelled and enjoyed those four years. Senior year I made a drastic change and auditioned for the Fine Arts programs at a few colleges; USC, UCLA, NYU, and Purchase College. I got into NYU but my family doesn’t water money trees and I grew up middle class which is No Man’s (or Woman’s) Land for financial aid. Comparing Purchase and NYU is like saying that Godfather III is equal to Godfather I & II. Stop right there.

August 2009, I left for New York and 16 months later dropped out of college. I got my ass kicked all over New York City. Moved to Harlem, worked restaurants, sold RC helicopters seasonally, worked in a haunted house, wandered, did promo modeling, rode as a bike messenger, drank cheap beer, smoked Marlboro reds, and survived. I read I learned, I lost, I won. My time in New York is my higher education and I’m proud of it. I’ve got the bruises and the wit to prove it.

Moved home and started coaching baseball at my alma mater. Funny thing coercing adolescent ballplayers to study, not talk to girls, and practice every day. Good luck, Coach. I enjoyed it and I was good at it. Parents would call and email telling me their son never had a better time playing ball and I was the reason for it. Gifts at the end of the season would partially make up for my blockbuster $600/six-week stipend paychecks. My heart was full, my bank account was striking out.

So, what I am now is a jack of many trades, but an expert at none. A self-proclaimed wealth of potential still finding its niche. I have struggled. And I have slipped. But still, I remain inspired, and eager, and my work ethic is strong. I think trials fortify strength. And every misstep or pitfall makes success sweeter. I believe that with my whole heart. I play ball on Sundays, cook for fun, and exercise to keep my head clear and my jeans fitting right. I’m grateful. I’m fortunate.

“What do I really wanna do…” you ask? Today, I look for 20% tips, but in this life, I want to give 100%, every day. I hope to get 100% out. I want to know I did my best, made others feel better about themselves, gave more than I took, and slept soundly in a home full of love, next to someone who knows my best and worst, and I, Hers. Wake up, do it again tomorrow. That’s what I really want to do.

“To say the things, he truly feels, and not the words, of one who kneels… The record shows, I took the blows and did it My Way.”



Anthony Marraccino

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