When I first moved to Illinois, I pictured meeting the hot guy who didn’t know how hot he was, as described in Anne Friedman’s essay. I forgot that this supposed guy would be a long drive from the north, where the quiet suburbs are spread out generously, where restaurants close at eight in the evening. There are no late night deliveries in the burbs, shocking my midnight snacking burger-and-fries-while-marathoning-Gilmore-Girls-on-a-weeknight New York self.
In a time of finding, when the heart is softened with grief, and burdened with guilt; when all human refuge fails; when no rest can be found to the troubled mind, then it is that God applies the healing balm by his Spirit.
It’s the middle of the coldest month of the year, and I’m indoors, wearing three layers of clothing (including a down jacket). For two weeks, Vera, my beloved laptop, has been in a coma. The one time I use my laptop as a tray. But today I learned that her brain is still working, I just need to hook her up to a different screen in the meanwhile.
A few days ago, I found myself hoarding as much of New York as I could. After the finality of moving, I went back to my places, to remember the things that happened between the grime of its grids, trying touch every crevice again. But why hoard something you can’t really take away with you, especially when it’s something that will also pass. Hoarding isn’t a show of trust either. So I’m embracing it, and letting the nostalgia run it’s course.
The places I’ve called home are easily erased of my being there. Like the crumbs of a Levain chocolate chip cookie, only a sprinkle remain; in a whiff, it’s gone. It’s so easy, removing evidences of myself, that it’s infuriating. The hardest part is for the emotions to catch up with the mind. My room in Astoria, bathed in the soft light of muslin curtains painstakingly hung, will belong to someone else once I’m out the door. When my friend walks her dog past 2717, I won’t be there. After my name is peeled from the mailbox, it’s like I was never here.
I think I’ll always feel embarrassed about how I feel about New York, because, in as cliched I-heart-NY-shirts get, I love New York. It’s not the perfect city, or the best place in the world. But it’s the first place I grew up beyond my parents’ roof, a city I was tossed into, unexpectedly, and saw me come into my own person. It became home to me. Even if it meant packing up and leaving things behind, thrice, the canvas of the city has been space enough to breathe, sweat, and grow. I made friends, and friends became family. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been wonderful. But the less stuff there’s been in my room (living in an empty room kind of takes it’s toll on you), the more I’ve had to give away due to the impracticality of taking them with me, the more see you laters have been spoken, the more I feel like I’m disappearing, because these are the things that mean that I’m here, that I’m home. And now, “home” is stripped off or given away, contained in a handful of boxes and bags, some possibly lost in transit, and there are the fare wells. I’m filled with an indescribable yearning for what looked like inhabited by me and where I have been, even while I’m still here, for a few more hours. I feel like a kite, with strings about to be cut.
The one thing I have learned is that you can’t think your way through life. The only way to figure out what to do is to do –– something.
Currently reading her book The Defining Decade, which is almost like having a session with a life coach (assuming it’s the kind of conversation you’d have with one.) It’s a challenge to live a healthy proportion of work and exploration, since too much work and no exploration is rigid, conventional, and exciting as floss. Too much exploration without work (that counts) risks making a person irrelevant, and trapped in a deepening state of (to quote Erik Erikson as quoted by Meg) “disengaged confusion.” Thus, I’m trying to wrap my head around how I’ve lived so far; it’s been an exploration of work, but more floss than expeditions. I taken risks, but why the nagging feeling that I’ve played it safe?
If you’re going through a similar crisis, perhaps her TED talk on Why Thirty Is Not The New Twenty can shed some light.
A couple of weekends ago, a few friends and I scaled Breakneck Ridge in Upstate New York for an autumn hike. We hiked from 8:30am to 3pm, and made it in good time to catch other sights along the way down the mountain. This is going to be a photo-heavy post, although nothing captures the experience itself.
It all started at 7:30am at the Grand Central Terminal station, where we caught the Metro North train. A round trip ticket costs $26. While waiting for the group, I doused myself in insect repellant and smelled strongly of Off within a 3 meter radius. Aside from a bottle of that in my backpack, we were each told to bring the following: 1 litre of water, snacks (Kind bars, or the like), ziplock bags (to store the phone, in case it rained), extra socks, shades, a hat or cap, a jacket good for rain, and sunblock.
If rooms reflect our inner state, my mind is a dump. Pre-adventurer self would wrinkle her nose at the sight of this messy (teenage American) room with piles of clothes everywhere, plus ziplock bags with garbage (because grocery bags haven’t brought about a need for one) and empty cookie boxes. Piles of unposted posts in this blog, from August until today. I’ve climbed a mountain, gone apple picking, hosted friends and family, escaped from a room (Mission Escape!), and gone through more bags of chocolate, cookies and cheese than is respectable for a single person. Among other things.