Where is Nyra?
Who am I? Most of us ask, at some point. If we’re lucky, we answer it early and consciously. If we’re really lucky, we only have to answer it once. Many of us have parents or grandparents who got away with that, in the simpler times preceding the turn of the last century. Arguably, it’s gotten a little less straightforward, in the second decade of the 21st Century.
Before we go a step further, I’m going to make a distinction. My use of identity here refers mostly to the deeply personal, individual identity that is inseparable from us—that unseverable indivisible thing without which we are no longer ourselves. And yes, for those who may already shifting uncomfortably in their seats, I know that most of us identify with a group or groups and that for many of us, that identity is part of our inseverable sense of self.
But as Best Case Scenario, Act I of Nyra’s Journey, opens, Nyra’s identity problem is way more personal and fundamental. She is, after all, for better or for worse, a child of her Age. And like it or not, that matters, both because of how it helps form her sense of self but also because of what it means for her practically…how it drives what she does, must do and why.
Context and Identity
Everything, including our identity, happens or is formed in a context. By way of illustration, try becoming an accomplished swimmer in a dry lake bed or preparing for an international Super-G competition in Nebraska. Are there workarounds? Usually. But our contextual realities are still highly influential if for no other reason than how those workarounds influence our reality and our perceptions of them. Which brings us to Nyra.
In common with most of us, Nyra is a creation of her environment, personal and shared. But at both levels, Nyra’s identity is a half-way house between her aspirations and her current reality. The daughter of a single (again) mother and an absentee father, college hasn’t come easily.
A combination of student loans, part-time jobs and scholarships has seen her through to graduation, but lately, she’s wondering “for what?” More than a year after graduation, she’s still looking for her first professional-level position, while clinging to her part-time jobs waitressing and her modestly paying internship working in call center for company that clearly doesn’t value her.
On a personal level, things have been just as frustrating. Despite her smouldering sexuality, Nyra is still a “virgin,” at least factually. Close calls and promising beginnings have yet to lead to fulfillment. It’s not like there’s anything physically wrong with her, nor is she without possibilities. At Timmons Financial, there’s Toni, a lovely woman of color who oozes grace and sensuality.
And at her part-time job at The Blue Macaw, there’s Kevin, a delicious Iraq and Afghanistan vet whom she’s caught undressing her with his eyes more than once. But that’s where it all begins and ends. Is it the differences between their ages and experience? Is he gay, or does he need a nudge…some kind of hint? Nyra’s not very good at hints.
Hope is a siren's song
In common with a lot of millennials, Nyra wonders if her personal and professional life are a kind of metaphor for the world she’s supposed to be inheriting. Sandwiched between a less than satisfying now and a future she increasingly suspects may be empty of a place for her, somehow she manages a measure of hope. But even in her best moments, she finds herself alternating between modulating her cynicism with optimism and her dreams with a healthy dose caution.
It’s occurred to her more than once that she might be guilty of living her life defensively. And when the notion crosses her mind, she emphatically denies it, or admonishes herself for giving up. She can’t do that. Her mother didn’t. Still, she can’t help but wonder what, exactly, is her best case scenario. On when she might even catch a glimpse of it, out there in the foggy potential of maybe someday.
Best Case Scenario is the first act in Nyra Westensee’s journey from young woman with more questions than answers to a thoughtful maturing human full of purpose and promise.
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