Wednesday, May 6, 2015

twenty four


The funny thing was that I had everything I wanted. It started with my room. I had a room of one’s own, a room that I’d always hoped to create. So much white, so much simplicity. “A place where I could really write,” as the writers say. And I had the kind of friends that people die for, the kind of friends who constantly surprise with what life has taught me must be pure, unconditional love – friends who cooked me dinner and thought I was spectacular and answered the phone on the third ring. I always thought that was a testament to my friendships. My friends answered the phone when I called.

But the amount of “more” that I wanted was scary, and so juxtaposed the sweet, easy simplicity of the room I loved so much. In theory, I was happy. “She designed a life she loved,” the gift said, and I suppose by then I had. But I wanted the traditional idea of more: the fancy car, the important job, the expensive hair lady. How predictable I had become, a misguided rat late to the never-ending race. But not too late to join it.

My sense of self-disappointment was real and deep and foreign. So much so that even now it’s easier for me to write about it as if it is part of my past, and not actually, truthfully, part of my present. I wonder about becoming a very specific type of bored and tortured old woman, the kind who orders an old old fashioned because – to hell with it, an ordinary and defeated layer of the person I used to be, with no real stories to tell and no real experiences to hold onto. I ask myself if one day I will read this and just wish I would have been content in the now. That I would have just written in the present, forgotten the past, disregarded the future?

The funny thing is that I have everything I want.

(Almost everything.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

spring


Spring is two days away.

As I get older, I’ve started to feel that either the seasons are changing with me, or that I am changing with the seasons. I can feel the difference in the air, and in the way that I laugh. You'll get a giggle in the summertime, on a warm evening with a roof deck somewhere that’s trying too hard to be trendy, with marquee letters that spell out BAR and all of those waiters with their silly gingham bow ties. It’s getting late, and your hardly-funny joke solicits a reserved giggle with just enough authenticity to suggest that maybe I laugh easily, that maybe I am not just humoring you. You'll get a loud, deep-down-in-your-belly laugh in the winter. An embarrassingly honest, uncontrollable laugh that surprises even me with its transparency, prematurely revealing everything you need to know because it’s a fearless laugh that is not trying to hide. Laughter comes and goes with the seasons. I swear that’s just how it is.

Someone special (you) told me once that they liked the way I laugh because “it comes from here.” I wonder if you remember that. I wanted to say that that was my winter laugh, even though it was summer.

You should know that I'm onto you – that you are so predictable in all your senseless, roundabout unpredictability. I knew to watch out when you said you didn’t eat seafood or that you didn’t believe in the stock market, that my electricity bill seemed really high and maybe I should count the math. (I’ve never been good at math). But spring is two days away, and you better believe I’m counting.

Because my springtime laugh says, goodbye. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

the unknowns

Mercury is in retrograde. Chaos prevails. You win, Universe.

Seventy beautiful degrees in what should be the dead of winter. Loud noises late at night – things falling off the shelves without explanation in the pantry, the television turning on with no warning, the back door slamming itself open as if to announce an unwanted presence. People I love coming and going, coming and going. What are you even doing here? I ask. His reply is pedantic. It annoys me. Didn’t you hear? He says. Mercury. Is. In. Retrograde.

Later that day I walk against the wind. Embrace the chaos. Embrace the chaos. Embrace the chaos. I think about what that means. Then I think about what an incorrigible knot of hair I will be left with once the wind is done with me. My lips are chapped. Something’s in my eye. I can't see who you are or what you'd like from me or when or if or how I am ever going to get even a semblance of the life I want. Everything is sticky and tangled and uncomfortable. This is me, not embracing the chaos.

I get into my car, drive home, and take about twenty seven deep breaths. The unknowns are winning. I convince myself that in six years I’ll be Sunday-brunching somewhere wonderful with a rewarding career and a pile of important emails waiting upon my return on Monday morning, with a nice person and a nice dog and some nice Tupperware back at the nice apartment with the windows that I will look out of later that night, with a life that is full of shared calendars and kale salads and oohing and ahhing at friend’s plain-looking babies, where it will all be delightfully boring, terribly stable. I feel better and think again about embracing the chaos – appreciating this time for what it is, for what it brings, and for the future perspective it will grant me. A horribly stable life awaits you. Kale. Plain babies. Big windows. Some structure.

I feel better. My mind has been quieted, Mercury momentarily overruled. But downstairs I hear something that the hardwood floors cannot disguise – slow, steady, footsteps. I am not alone anymore.

Who is in my house? 

Friday, January 2, 2015

sunrise, norah jones

Everything is white. It’s making me restless. The snow isn’t melting and sometimes at night it falls in big pieces and sticks to my hair and clothes and it’s everywhere, fluffy white everything, and it’s all really beautiful, and it all looks really beautiful, especially when the sun comes out the next day and you can see that it’s still white everywhere, pure and natural goodness covering everything. But it’s making me restless. It must be: the obligatory peacefulness that all white brings. Unifying the world into one giant entity draped in soft powdery nothing – hiding everything that individualizes us – your car, your garden, your hands, your face. Isn’t it lovely, she asks? The scars of the world hidden underneath a sheet of soft, white snow?

But I like the scars. I like the rough sidewalks, the uneven concrete, the T loves C scribbled in loud red graffiti. I like the dying flowers and the neighbor’s children’s shoes scattered in the front lawn. Now I can’t see anything. It’s just white, and it’s not melting, and I think I like change and I'd like to wake up to something new, but sometimes the snow and all of its staying power makes me wonder if a thing I should have actually let stay was you. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

believe

She found it baffling that some people didn’t believe in her. Not offensive, just hard to understand. She was so sure that she would do great things, produce good work and move about the world with intention, surrounded by fulfilled and enriched people and things, that she was always stumped by those who told her, “You can’t.” She knew that she was flawed. She knew that she was riddled with imperfections, overcome with impatience and one thousand other brazen, unapologetic idiosyncrasies. But she was forceful and quick, smart and unique enough to counter the predictable and premature assumptions she knew you would make. She was a fighter, no doubt about it, and she would fight her way to the end, furious with those who said that she couldn’t, trusting in those who said that she could.

I got a note from her yesterday. “Do you still believe in me?” That’s all it said.

I have spent much of today wondering how to tell her that I don’t know. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

little girl

Dear little girl,

You look really darling with your flowers and your sneakers. The bouquet is maybe too big for your little hands to hold onto, but that’s okay, it’s probably good practice for the rest of your life, where you will struggle to hold onto some big, heavy things. I can tell by your restless eyes that you are up to something – that your brain is always on, infinitely curious, constantly searching. As you get older, people might ask you what you are looking for. You don’t have to tell them. And you don’t have to know.

I can see that you will be beautiful. You are charming me already, and we only just met. I wonder about all of the men you will hurt as you dazzle your way through this world. And I wonder about all of the people you will offend, just by being you. I wish I could be there when you learn that sometimes your best is not good enough. I hated that lesson.

Little girl, you are smart and precocious. In ten years you will read Gone with the Wind and you might want to be a little bit like Scarlett O’Hara or Jo March from Little Women, but you won’t have any idea how. In twenty years, you’ll learn that you can actually be the leading lady of your own story – but you will have to write out all of the chapters. This is not always easy.

One last thing, little one. Be kind to those who love you. Be gracious for what you have, and decide if what you do not have is truly worth seeking.

You might find that all you really need are some flowers and a good pair of sneakers.

xx

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

inside

Here we are again. The universal quiet of an empty house. I feel a cool hint of fall through the window as summer begrudgingly stands down. In the midst of the drumming chaos, I sometimes forget how much I like the sound of rustling leaves outside, the hum of the insects, and yet the stillness, the softness, the stability. No creaky stairs tonight. No running water. Just white sheets and dim light, and a whining train somewhere nearby. I don't play any music. I think about the predictability of change and all of its relentless irony, which I am reminded of by the circle of rust that surrounds the shiny drain in the shower, or by the changing leaves of golden yellows – catching the sun-kissed city by surprise though the leaves are changing like they always do. We’re back, the yellows say. Knock knock, purr the deep reds. They weren’t here just a week or two before, so things are different – things have changed by definition – yet what about this seasonal pattern of predictability makes fall less of an exciting transformation and more the underwhelming product of short-lived routine?

Here we are again.

And I am locked inside the quiet.