Life adjustments

A friend in New York City called in tears. She’d spent a couple of decades building a business, and career as a photo stylist. She started working at the top, for Martha Stewart, and rose through the ranks by hard work. With the money streaming in from top-shelf advertising jobs for major high-end catalogs, she hired an assistant. Moved her family to a bigger apartment in Brooklyn. Started leasing a bigger vehicle to carry her various props and working tools to gigs around the area.

My friend was great at creating an air of easy comfort to the images she stylized. Things looked tossed about, minimally. Colors matched perfectly. She was of the times.

Then coronavirus hit. The Manhattan-based advertising and photo industries stopped. This was after the usual industry slowdown each January and February.


“I’ve been a half-year without work. My savings are completely depleted,” said my friend. She had started looking to move to the Hudson Valley to cut costs awaiting her industry’s return. She found rentals starting to match Brooklyn prices. Now she’s eyeing a move down south for the summer, and casting a wider net for her living options.

My friend’s questioning the validity of her many years pursuing dreams now defunct. She misses the rewards such a life came with, but can no longer sustain.

Many of the rest of us will be needing to make life changes of similar magnitude as things settle out in the coming months. As Bette Davis once said, hold on to your seats.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.