• Chris Banks

A million degrees and 20+lbs

I’ll never forget the day I landed in the city. It was like a million degrees and the humidity was just as bad. My bags were overfilled and it was a struggle just to navigate to the train. I hadn’t a clue of where I was going, just texts from my soon to be roommate and the directions maps lended me. It was torture, getting from 1st ave in Manhattan to 36th St in Brooklyn. But once i emerged from the train station my new roommate was there to welcome me, shake my hand and take my bag. I can’t tell you how much of a relief that was. In the car and off we went to my new life, and his apartment! I’ll do my best not to name names in my blog but what I will say about my new roommate was how connected I felt to him, even as we were just beginning to know each other. There was a large gap in age but i never thought twice about it. I’ve heard of a lot of creepy and not good situations young aspiring actors can get themselves into moving to this city, so to have someone I actually felt safe with was entirely and immediately appreciated.

Coming from Southie I was used to my own apartment. (I know, laugh all you want) Getting used to being confined to a room was new to me, and took me a while to get used to. Living across the street from Sunset Park I immediately recognized was a gem and hidden secret. I think you get the best view of lower Manhattan from Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Not to mention the Mexican food!!! Omg did this lil ol’ Irish boy from Southie fall in love immediately.

I get so overwhelmed by all of it. Immediately. Everything NYC is and everything I was used to. This city has a pulse and a vibration. It’s undeniable. Anyone who has left and wants to come back knows the feeling. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. I’m assuming. I haven’t traveled much so I wouldn’t know for sure.

It’s funny to write about now having been there for two years because I’m still affected by the city in the same exact way. I just have a better way to blocking out the things or sounds I don’t want to interact with. It’s a truly incredible place to live. There is nowhere else like it on earth, and that’s a testament to this country.

My phone blew up immediately. I had so much to do and I knew I was already making mistakes in my decision making. The first night there I got a job at a local bar. I needed something and I wasn’t going to just be an actor. I worked since I was 13 and always had my own money for food or whatever because my mom was too busy working. That’s why I had to at least get a job my first night there - so I could sleep better lol.

I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to last there. Late ass nights (4am) and I was used to bar backing and bar tending at a hotel - which is so much more money wise. I knew I had to find something else, but what.

I saw all these postings everyday for models and actors and i just never applied for them. I was too busy trying to shore up my job side so that I could go out there and act like I wanted to and cams here to do.

The job was the most important thing to me. I needed a way to pay rent and the last thing i wanted to be was a bad roommate. I walked dogs in Boston so I thought hey, do that. And so I did. Luckily my place was in Brooklyn, Park Slope actually, and it was gorgeous!!

But holy crap what a workout it was. I had no idea where I was going, who these dogs were, where the houses were, how to open the doors, what the routine is for each dog - nevermind how best to get to my routes or how early to leave, or pretty much anything else. I was entirely clueless and not ready for what I was about to take on getting familiar with not just the area but the dogs the people the day to day life and keeping up with my family who I didn’t want to just lose touch with just because i moved. I moved to better myself professionally and personally.

That summer was the hardest summer of my life. I lost close to 25 pounds from all kinds of factors, no money, sweating, 13 miles on foot everyday, and just the stress of a new city and leaving my life in Boston. I can’t accurately articulate how hard that was because I’m still processing it to be honest.

When I moved I was 181lbs, and now I was looking at 157. A shock that I’m still processing, and getting over. It took a lot of money and time for my body type to gain 25 pounds of muscle, now I lost it all and then some. I was back to my high school weight, and I’m still there today. I need to build myself back up to there, and I will.

All I was doing was work, and not on set yet. I came home for the first time to see Kendrick Lamar with my friend Piro and that was the moment I told myself that I had to quit my dog walking job. It was paying my bills but barely and i was losing so much weight and just generally exhausted. That’s when I thought about simply booking work to survive - and knew I didn’t move to pick up dog poo. I had to quit, I had to throw all of myself into developing myself as an actor. And so I did. I only lasted not even 4 months walking dogs in Brooklyn.

I told myself you’re either going to make it as an actor, or you will go back to law school and be a lawyer. And so now my entire focus was booking anything I could but nothing degrading or the like.

So I did...

There is at least 45 years between myself and my new roommate, but I felt like i already knew him. And every conversation from then on would allow me to know him better. Of course I was wrong, but I was happy to be. Meeting that man and getting to stay in his home, looking back on it, was the single greatest gift I was given. It allowed me to focus on what I needed to, and not on where I laid my head. Something I will always be indebted to him for, and his friendship that I still have to this day will always be cherished. He knows me better than anyone in the city now, something I’m extraordinarily grateful for.

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