Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What A Difference A Lay Makes

Kidding! I had that plenty here. Kidding again! Joking about sex is not really my bag so I don't know how to do it right. The joking part.

But it is nice to go somewhere else and be surrounded by European men who tell you that you are lovely and beautiful and lie to you that your American accent is charming and don't even wince when you trip or sneeze on their arm, they just keep nodding along to your stories about camp or that time your fish was stolen (yes, it was, I swear) and ordering you more jack and gingers and smiling and walking you home at the end of the night and asking to see you again.

Europe was fun. Of course it was! It was most fun to get away from my beautiful life, which I didn't know was beautiful, or meaningful, or worthwhile for a while. Big mistake. While I was away the resounding chorus, in London, in Bruges, in Amsterdam (cough) was, how lucky I was to live in New York! Lucky?, I repeated, balancing a coffee and a cigarette and my bag on top of a bike as I wove in and out of small cars with fierce drivers, mothers with no shame cursing, delivery men with razor sharp spokes, and dum dum pedestrians digging in their backpacks for God knows what.

Lucky, me? But I'm just a writer...who lives a small life that is honest but perhaps nothing more.

Oh, what a brat I've been.

Self, readers, world, will you forgive me? I'm too old to be acting so childish, but it's in my nature.

Running away is medicine, more than laughter, more than chocolate milk and summer Fridays and mixtapes and grass fields and thrusting your feet into a fountain on a hot afternoon. It is all of that, it is more than the sum. You are with people, you are alone, no one complains. You fear leaving will make you less than, you will miss something monumental at home.

And then you get home. And you know what? The only thing that's been missed is you. Everyone wants to see you, everyone wants to talk to you, everyone is smiling. Work is tough but you realized you're needed. Your apartment feels like a palace. Your shower is ecstasy. Your phone is a magic controller. Your morning commute is different again, your head is higher, your step is lighter, you feel like this morning, this moment, could be played out anywhere instead of being the usual drudgery that you had made it earlier.

But you appreciate it all now. The light. The noise. The still and the not so still.

You have been away, in cobblestones, in open-air concerts, rolling greenery of parks. You have sat, quiet and read. You read all there was to read, you listened to all there was to listen, you sang to yourself and you skipped on your rented bike, in the unfamiliar train, hooked arms with unfamiliar people, danced all night, walked all day, rested only by sitting on a bench and watching a new breed of people trot by.

It was good and it was all yours and there was no reason for it, you just wanted it. Sometimes, maybe all the time, you should have what you truly want. Because it's good for you, and good for the world.

I took a vacation alone. Shouldn't you?

(Yes, you should.)

Stories to come...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Only The Lonely

I am undeniably, awesomely, hugely lonely.

I said it.

It's like an incredible force of nature I can't stop, I'll be walking along and it will hit me--if I were to simply vanish, having never made a mark on this earth at all, who would miss me, and for how long?

It's not good to think about these things, but whenever you try not to think of something you can only think of that: over and over again. There was a time where I had a bounty of non-loneliness. That ship has sailed. My best friends have moved away or gotten married, my boyfriend went off the deep end and got into two car crashes, his therapist said he ended our relationship from the trauma of the accident, and now drinks 65 drinks a week and has no job and says he's happy (huh? I never thought I'd say this, but um, how do I be more like you? I mean in the happiness part) and tries to make out with me bi-weekly. But work on our relationship? Nope. Tell me what a harpy I am and how I made him into a shell of a man and was always going to leave him for a British musician (who never appeared, btw)? Oh yes. That happens.

This was the person I was going to settle down with? Ugh, my head hurts from hitting itself into a brick wall. man. No best friend. A handful of decent friends scattered across the country. A lot of moping. A total block in writing since our breakup (hmm more of a break down). Some reading. More moping. I went to a therapist. He said I wasn't depressed enough for drugs. But for expensive long term therapy where I talk about my childhood? Oh yeah, I'm a candidate for that. I don't want to talk about my childhood! I don't want to solve the issue of losing my teddy bear! I want to feel better about my life and I want to feel better right now! Give me a life coach, not this shlock. I'm a planner. I want an action plan. I said this to him and he looked on blankly. No, wait. He said something.

He said, "How does that make you feel?"

He said it a hundred times. I said, "Can you please help me figure out how to not have anxiety or be lonely? Maybe some suggestions of some things to do? Meditation? A vacation? Dating for sport? Joining a knitting club? How to start writing again?"

He said, "Sounds like you'd like to solve your problems. And that you'd like some tools. How does that make you feel?"

The only tool in the room was him.

That's it. I'm doing the only thing that ever works. I'm fleeing to Europe. I bought my ticket, I'm crashing on sort-of-friends-of-friends couches and I'm going to London and stopping somewhere (who knows!) on a train before I hit Amsterdam. It's done. I leave Thursday after work.

Flee therapy to cure loneliness. Let's see if it works. At least I'll have some really good stories and pictures. And it's my first crash vacation totally alone. Who will I meet? Maybe someone fun. Maybe many someones fun.

Bye bye loneliness, I'm leaving you in New York for a while. We need some space. It's not me, it's you. You be lonely for a while and see how it feels. When I'm back, we'll talk.

Of course trips mean much blogging. And writing. They always do...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Remembering: Summer State of Mind

When I was smaller, I regarded the Fourth of July as a benchmark. A hard and fast entity, that, while always promised the sizzle of the grill, wet feet slopping drops from the pool to patio, and the fireworks at Limerock, first and foremost, the holiday meant one thing.

Half of summer gone.

I’m still small. In stature and in mind. Because even with the advent of Summer Fridays, the unrelenting pour of rain (that really shouldn’t tally, as it cuts back on useable warm days), and a vacation planned in August, before this moment, I’ve suffered from the idea that summer is a marked man.

An unshakeable feeling that his death is near.

Perhaps my gloominess is not entirely unfounded, just misdirected. It could very well be that the end of summer for me is pending, looming. Though not exactly because it’s Independence Day Eve. Maybe it’s because my summer job is actually my real job, trading the contraband crème brulees and cigarette breaks of a bus girl for the matching accessories and fountain pen of a worker bee.

No longer do I ride my bike to the little grill in town, I take the subway to a monstrous building cookie-cut from the mold of so many others.

No longer am I paid in cash, wrinkled bills stuffed into a maroon apron without counting, then shoved into a drawer, retrieved only for dime store lip-gloss and the cost of entry to a kegger. A paycheck arrives, already deposited into a bank account, full of columns and numbers and taxable subtractions. Depending on the week, it goes straight away to rent.

My parents say that they really don’t have a summer any more. Each day of the season cannot be distinguished from the last, save for the humid weather and weekend barbeques.

I find that heartbreakingly depressing. I refuse to become an adult about this. I see the error in my maturation and need to stop it. Not to remain young at heart, but because I know, deep down, I just will never be able to fully give it up. The memories of summers cascade through me.

Sleepovers, cooking fireside, mosquito bites, the community pool.

Swim lessons, day camp, packed lunches, pickles, juice boxes, shorts and scabbed knees, my bike, the sky, the porch, the burst of sparklers, Frisbee with my dogs, the ice cream truck, playing dodge ball in the dead-end street after dinner, the walk to the sticker store, the passenger’s seat of my parent’s car.

Field parties, his parent’s house when they’re in Europe, the drive between, the trampoline, red cups of beer, the backyard, Tiki torches, tank tops, popsicles, the sundeck, the evening.

Now glasses of white burgundy, the shore, beach towns, weddings, parties, walks around the block in search of gelato, counting the handful of stars visible in the city, taking those days off of work, ice coffee, her homemade desserts, his friends and their cigars, the garden in the back of the bar, the rooftop, paper lanterns, votive candles, the exclusive pool somehow within reach, Coney island for the concerts and hotdogs, the parade, shifts and linen.

Summer does alter as we age. But not in a bad way. Maybe it’s that summer does change tunes, but never quality.

For me, I just won’t let it. This has always been my most beloved time of year. And this year, I’m regarding the Fourth of July as the beginning of summer, not the middle, because I haven’t noticed it until now, haven’t slowed down with a belly-breath and a Sno-cone until now. Because now that I'm older, what I've lost in freedom, I've gained in choice.

So this year, I choose summer. Summer as a state of mind.

And it’s only just begun.