At ten after tapas dinner I’m not ready to go home, because it feels like not enough has happened today. I am unsatisfied. Which is, I suppose, as much temptation of fate as admitting you’re completely content. If you believe in that sort of thing, which I do because I watch too much serialized television drama. I buy a ticket for the almost midnight Great Gatsby showing and go get a coffee in the meantime. I consider calling my mother, but do not. A homeless man on the street tells me to “Have a safe night,” and I say, “You, too,” and mean it.
None of the previews make me feel anything, and I start to think I am depressed. It turns out they were just bad trailers for bad movies, but I suspect I am still a little depressed. I should have seen it coming, I know, because I’ve been very happy, and very blue inevitably follows. This blog serves, if nothing else, as a manic depressive record for myself, to remind myself of what my actual state of mind was, from month to month, season to season. Yes, I really did cry almost every night for several months. Yes, I really was deliriously happy that time.
I spent a lot of time and energy and money last summer being frenetically busy and fun and popular and drunk, in response to someone who had rejected me. Pointless, since he had no way of knowing all the parties and concerts and bars I went to and, had he known, it would not have occurred to him to feel anything about it one way or the other. This, I didn’t write about, and so I honestly can’t remember whether I admitted to myself that it was why I was going out every day.
I really love those old Subway cars with the orange and red seats. They’re associated in my mind with my first year here, with Caroline, with my tiny room in Bay Ridge and late nights falling asleep on the R train. With a time when it would never have occurred to me to care about the size of my room or if I was doing enough things every day or to go out more than once a month or to ever worry if I seemed busy enough to a boy, because it would also never have occurred to me that it mattered if I stayed home every night. The time—I still marvel at my faith and stupidity—that I moved across a continent with two suitcases, a job interview but no outfit for it, and a little more than $1000. I didn’t even have towels! Now I have towels and a job and a life but I just feel so tired and faithless sometimes. At loose ends, plodding home de-sangriaed and de-caffeinated and listening to the Beatles at 2 in the morning.
Also The Great Gatsby was not very good although I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was at times, and 3D movies are The Worst except for Tobey Maguire as narrator because that was the actual Worst. Jordan Baker was wry and lithe and laconic and perfect.
I see little boys everywhere who remind me of my little brother. They don’t usually look like him, but something about their backpacks, their close-shorn haircuts, their latchkey kid solitary Subway rides, makes my heart ache with recognition. Buddy is sort of ageless to me, and mostly a cipher. I left home when he was in middle school, but in the few years before that was so rarely home that I hardly saw him. We five weren’t family dinner people: all too busy and independent and constantly hustling to ever sit down at the same time to the same food.
His voice changed after I moved to New York. I called him once, for help with my computer I think, which was a weak attempt to break into the fortress that is the inner life of a teenage boy who is a stranger. He answered and I momentarily thought I’d gotten the number wrong when I’d written it down. After a pause, I said brightly, “Hey, Buddy!” and he said, suspicious in response to that family nickname uttered by an unfamiliar voice, “Who is this?” and I said, “It’s Lil,” and the deep voice I didn’t recognize of a teenage boy I don’t know said, “Oh, hi, Lil,” and didn’t know me either.
I’m meeting him and my mom in D.C. in a couple weeks, just for two nights. I don’t know what to talk about with him, but I’m so excited to meet him again.
There was a kid today in the little store where I stop to get my groceries on the way home. He ordered a smoothie and got out a velcro-close wallet that had nothing in it but a school ID and paid with the only bill in it, a twenty. He was about 13. I don’t know why 13-year-old boys buying smoothies by themselves on Monday afternoons should make me think of the brother I adore 3000 miles away, but I think of when I last saw him, when I was home a year and a half ago, and my mom said when she asked what groceries she should buy that week he said, “stuff to make stir-fry, for Lil,” because that’s what I ate every day in high school, all by myself doing my homework in my room upstairs while he sat in his room two floors away.
I walked for three hours, with breaks to sprint through the long meadows, and to swing at the playground, higher and higher, listening to an old Slow Club song, so high I scared myself and almost flipped the swing over, I kept going until I felt a little sick. It says no adults at the playground unless they’re accompanying a child, but the swingset was deserted and soaking wet, and anyhow who says I’m an adult all the time?
I’m not sure why this is a lesson I have to learn and forget and relearn over and over again, but when you’re feeling upset just go for a long walk. Lil, get out of bed, stop watching The West Wing, definitely stop watching Hart of Dixie, put off doing the laundry—again, and walk until your thigh muscles feel like stone.
By the end, I’ve walked further than I meant to. Tiny rain drops on my eyelashes are making the traffic lights twinkle and my cheekbones feel cool. Exhaustion has struck. Panic-free, I’ll be able to sleep tonight and wake up fresh and bleary tomorrow morning to Mary-Tyler-Moore my way to work and fill the back office with the smell of my cappuccino. Panic attack morning, Netflix afternoon, long rainy evening walk, to bed on time with a smile and a tired sigh. That is a mental health day.
I called out at 11:30 last night, crossing a street in Bushwick to get away from the sound of the crowd of people I was with. I called out to go to a picnic today, which I woke up to find was cancelled because it’s quite intractably dreary outside. In between I had a terrible dream, alarming in its lack of nightmare-ish surrealism, of conversations with people I really know, and woke up feeling betrayed and lonely and shaken.
I’m going out into the rain now, because I can’t think of anything else to do, because I feel unnerved and listless, because Prospect Park is a 20 minute walk away. Because I’d like to be rained on, because I’ve got nowhere to be besides Prospect Park in the rain.
Young men who swig from bottles of whiskey that they then tuck into the breast pocket of their leather jackets, and other specimens to whom I should not be attracted.
acontinuation asked: I'm 22 years old and I think I like being around myself than I like being around other people most of the time, which is a little strange, right?
I have exactly one month left to be 22 years old, and I forgot how to like being around myself for a very long time, but it’s 4:33 on a rainy Saturday afternoon and I’m singing along to Loggins and Messina and drinking coffee out of my ‘I Got Mugged in Brooklyn’ mug and I’m wearing a giant plaid flannel shirt with no pants and all the windows in my apartment are open and there’s nothing strange about liking your own company because—sorry, Jean Paul—I don’t agree that hell is other people, but being by yourself is sure heaven if you’re doing it right.
— I wake up to really good emails from old friends.
While I’m describing nights in New York, I must simply must describe nights at Nate and Vince’s. I ought not to describe it, really, because I’m drowsy and headachey after un-counted cocktails and glasses of champagne, and hors d’oeuvres, and chocolate cheesecake. I ought to go to sleep. But I want to tell you about the uninstagrammable pleasure of conversation that is smart without being pretentious. Of glasses that, as they empty, Nate asks if he can ‘refresh them’ for you and then does so without really waiting for an answer and certainly without tallying your drinking or his own. Of giggling and talking constantly and never ever ever any discomfort at all. Just fondness for old friends, and their new friends, and cheerful gossip about acquaintances that aren’t mutual but verbally well illustrated.
The pleasure of that best kind of conversation—when everyone is genuinely listening to each other and talking not simply for the sake of being heard—the egalitarian conversation that is just fun. That’s what I’m trying to say and using too many words to say as usual: I had so much fun tonight. I always have so much fun in their warm little kitchen and their living room filled with easy chairs and worn rugs and art prints and kind funny smart beautiful discerning people. I swear that you get prettier and more charming simply by stepping into their entryway, one arm hugging and air kissing, bustled in, bag set down, “Can I get you a drink? Have you met everyone? Everyone, this is Lillian,” and you immediately find that you’re yourself, only better. Glowing. Which is, I suppose, the truest sign of a natural good host.
I have two glasses of Spanish red wine and one cup of almost black 24-Hour Diner coffee and it’s enough to carry me the length of Midtown Manhattan, euphoric and sore-footed and sure-footed.
We talk about the miracle of our lives—the unspoken, true miracle that we fly through them every day, like birds let loose, terrified, banging into glass doors and light fixtures, bruised and exhilarated and dizzy with freedom. Walking miles of infinitely filmed, infinitely imagined, infinitely romanticized streets at night.
It feels like a jinx not to doubt your own happiness. But maybe I can be a real grown-up. Maybe, I think, wine and coffee and incipient-summer air disturbed by Marilyn gusts of Subway air, I can be brave enough to fall in love with my present tense.
Mix for May. Mix for every kind of uncertainty, except that life is beautiful and good.
One of the infinite things about my mother that are my favorite things about my mother, I thought the other day, is how, after she bakes, she pours herself a cup of strong black coffee and goes to sit on the front porch steps with my aunt, leaving the apple galletes or pumpkin pies or quiches to cool on the center island. Leaving the dishes sugary and unwashed in the sink. I suddenly remembered that she sold that house, and it was the first time that remembering it isn’t our house anymore didn’t cause me sharp physical pain.
I keep thinking I’ve beaten this ridiculous sadness over my mother’s ridiculous, homely little orange house. I sobbed into the warm soft top of Caroline’s head just before Christmas, while we watched Meet Me in St. Louis.
I don’t know how to grow up, really, or move on. I don’t know how to be all right with something ending without also regretting that it ever happened. The red daisies in a mason jar on our kitchen table are about to die but I don’t want to throw them out because on Friday morning it was sunny and I walked to Trader Joe’s and bought them and carried them home. I don’t know. How do people live?
Beautifully, I guess. With sun shining through front windows and dishes sitting unwashed in the kitchen and flour on the countertops. I guess they start drinking coffee. I guess they become fanatically comforted by cinnamon in their latte, because that’s how mom used to get hers, and the smell of cinnamon with coffee and steamed milk stays the same. Probably they could cry some mornings, with how much that smell stays the same.
We are used to hearing that our loved ones have forgotten. There has to be a metaphorical way to fictionalize it, but I would rather meditate on...”
So I’ve always been kind of awkward and nervous on the phone, even just making delivery orders, and talking on the phone to strangers is pretty much...
Vampire Weekend - “Ya Hey”
F.R.I.E.N.D.S. theme song - Milan - 20.5.13 (x)