Lost Girl of the Week: Melissa Saul

Lost Girl of the Week, Volunteering & Giving Back — By on October 10, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Melissa SaulWhile we welcome Lost Girls from every corner of the globe, we can’t help but be a little partial to our own hometown heroines. Not only did Melissa Saul (pictured on the left) have the courage to leave all of her friends and family to move clear across the country to New York City, she also brought her passion and dedication to non-profit organizations with her.

Below, Melissa describes her incredible work with the National Kidney Foundation, how her life was forever changed after experiencing Fall in Manhattan, and how she “found the beauty in the uncertainty and the unknown” — all told with a raw and witty elegance befitting of a true ‘lost’ girl!

*****

It was a trip to New York that found me lost….

Born and raised as a Southern California girl, life was always pretty good. Actually, it was great. I had my family and friends, 350 days of sunshine, the beach, Pacific Coast Highway, a decent cd collection, a cozy apartment. I was even getting promoted at work. My life was on track, just as I imagined it would be. Until one day, my roommate and I decided to take a vacation to New York to visit my best friend from college. That’s when phase one of “getting lost” began…

For as long as I can remember, every time I would see my best friend’s New York email signature I would think “one day I’m going to move to New York.” Just seeing the state spelled out was enough for me to imagine myself at Central Park in the fall, with a fuzzy black turtleneck, hair in a bun, gloves, book in one hand, hot chocolate from Payard in the other. But, the fantasy was short-lived as I knew in my heart it would never happen. Too many ties to the people I loved in Cali…

Then something magical happened. I saw “Fall” for the first time…in my life…at Central Park. I saw 2,000 yellow cabs and people in suits and sneakers. I brushed shoulders with the city, with so many cultures of the world represented and so much energy to go around. I was changed forever…

As soon as the wheels touched the ground at LAX and I heard “welcome to Los Angeles, the local time is…” I blurted to my roommate “I’m moving to New York!!” I think the people in the last row heard me. She didn’t believe me…no one believed me. I didn’t believe me. When I told my parents, my mother was mute for three days and my father simply said “no.” My sisters, my friends, my colleagues – everyone, s-h-o-c-k-e-d!

On January 16, I officially parted with the west coast. I cried and sobbed as I said goodbye to my beloved family and friends at the airport (exit stage left – dramatic I know). I cried while I was boarding (loud), I cried for the 6 hour duration of the flight (louder), as we were landing (hysterical), and at JFK (exhausted). Upon arriving at JFK, I was greeted by my suitcase and a beautiful snowfall (wearing flip flops of course). I was completely out of my comfort zone, scared, unsure, unsettled, and just like that…I started to embrace “getting lost.”

As the days carried on, I started to get the hang of the NYC routine. i.e. made my way through Grand Central and earned my spot on the 6 train all while carrying three bags with two pairs of shoes, three papers, an umbrella, an extra jacket, a change of clothes, coffee, a book, and work files; a 5th floor walk-up and paying triple the rent from LA; mice; miniscule living spaces and non-existent kitchens; trains and transfers; flight delays; temperamental rain storms; humidity and bad hair days; the seasons; severe allergies; $15 hot chocolates and $30 sandwiches; the longer work day; east and west blocks; the gym that’s too far (but one block away), and…missing home…

… I found myself and what I was really made of. I found the beauty in the uncertainty and the unknown…and how to own it. Best of all, I learned strength and courage on a whole new level.

As far as my career, I was able to continue my path in the non-profit world. I’m currently managing events for the National Kidney Foundation serving Greater New York. We raise awareness and funds for kidney disease, which strikes 26 million American adults. Another 20 million are at risk and don’t know it.

For anyone interested in helping spread the word, we’re having our 7th Annual New York City 5K Kidney Walk on Sunday, October 19th at the South Street Seaport. This event presents an occasion for dialysis patients, transplant recipients, donor families, living donors, the medical communities, and the general public to celebrate life. Over 3,500 participants of all ages are expected to attend!

To register/donate to the Kidney Walk, please visit: http://walk.kidney.org/newyorkcity or visit http://www.kidneygny.org/ for more information.

Cheers to getting lost and found!

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    1 Comment

  • The Lost Girls says:

    Melissa–I absolutely love you story! I experienced something similar the first time I visited the city, the intense desire to move here without knowing why.

    I am so impressed with your commitment and decication to making it happen.

    I’m volunteering at the Kidney Walk next weekend. Hope to meet you!