February 23, 2014

Quiet

Quiet. I only want quiet these days. To hear the winter snow melting. The crack of the branch under the weight of the snow.

I looked back two blocks later, hands chapped by the iced wind, grasping my cellphone. My voice streaming, louder and louder while she listened, strained above the Madison Avenue engines and horns. I turned around, and it all fell silent. My voice, the traffic, the echos off the buildings fell away, fell silent for just a moment as I turned. Half expecting him to still be standing there. Half expecting to go running back to him.

A block too late.

The horns blare and I didn't miss a word scrambling to tell her what just happened. What just happened? My throat feels scratched but I toss the hot chocolate in the garbage pail rather than take a sip. Tourists shout at each other as I pass by the NY Public Library and even the lion statue roars too loudly. My voice gets lost. I hang up the phone. The lobby of school has students milling around with the fervor of the first week of classes. Too many. Too much. Too loud.

Classmates tripping over each other to make first-class impressions with their lengthy comments, a chorus and a round and it's all a hallow echo of voices inside a tin can. The screech of the subway against the rails and the roar of the train car as it travels through the tunnels and spits me out in a sea of people in Brooklyn. The laughter of roommates like juice glasses breaking. I put on headphones and the sound of a fan, turn the app volume up, and fall asleep in my coat, in my clothes.

When I wake, it's dark still. It's quiet. The sound of my suitcase rolling down the sidewalks stands out against the silence. The quiet hum of the plane as it takes off for Portland. Her arms as she retrieves me, her Prius' quiet, quiet engine, her pup's soft nose against the palm of my hand. Quiet, gentle, soft, calm, quiet, quiet, quiet. The mostly empty office building, the glass of red wine, the way he murmured, "the fam's back together again," the peach walls of my old bedroom as I put myself to bed, quiet, quiet, quiet.

I sang, I danced, I laughed, I discovered Pandora's "No Diggity" channel, I remembered how fiercely I love these women. I remembered how fiercely I am loved. It might have been loud, and I might have been the loudest, but it was still the quiet I needed. The hours we spent on that couch together. Sitting, reading, watching, eating, drinking, cuddling, sleeping, together and together and together. Quiet.

The Portland airport had rocking chairs in front of wide open windows. A few straggling passengers who came despite canceled flights and two delays and we finally boarded. I watched the sunset from the runway, from the assent, from the plane window as we broke through the clouds.

JKF is loud and noisy. NYC is loud and noisy. But I am still quiet.

The quiet settles easily. I carry it around lightly. Pack it in my bag as if it's just one more book.

I burry myself in books and piano notes amid long measures of rests. Turn my bedroom lights off early, curl up in the window of my hotel room during the conference, cross the street to find a coffee shop with fewer people, wake to see the sunrise, sit alone on the train ride home.

I wait to see when it will let go. Soon, I think, it's so light, it can't hang on for long. It's not the angry radio songs or the late night confessions, spilling out like marbles rolling across a metal counter. It's not the sound of my feet racing across the frozen ground or dewy grass. It's not even the dull hum of the weather channel, local on the 8s for the nineteenth time. It must not be much, I think. It's so quiet and still and light.

And yet. It remains.

Loyal. Steady. Unassuming. Constant.

I only want quiet these days. It think it means "this is not the right..." but I am realizing I am wrong. This time, the quiet might be the strength, the certainty, the falling away of the noise, my noise, the city's noise, all the noise. The falling away of the noise when I turned around on that second block corner. It might not matter whether he still stood there or whether I would have gone running. It is the noise that fell away. It is the quiet that matters, that perhaps, means the most.



January 17, 2014

Before

My favorite moments, before the alarm, before the sun on cold winter mornings, wrapped up in, cocooned by, cradled in warm blankets, a deep breath, a nestling down in, before the day starts, before the coffee, before the to-do lists, when hope doesn't have to exist, it's a breath in and a breath out, roll over, stretch out, curl up, fall back to sleep, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out...

When we can have entire conversations with a held glance, beyond words - syllables too complex, too simplistic, words as rough approximations weighted and turned over again and again - a breath in and a breath out, eyes held and held and held, a knowing. Before and before and before, precise definitions, periods, question marks, exclamations points, beginnings and endings.

When an arm's length away means a swoop and a swirl, a dip, and a giggle. A reach across the empty space, scooched closer across the couched futon, a pulling in, an embrace, an arm draped over my shoulder, forearms bow-tied at my sternum, hand at my waist. A gap to close, before the cushions mold to our bodies, before choreographed movement becomes muscle memory, before we put the puzzle pieces together with closed eyes, cushion-arm-waist-arm-leg-leg-head-cushion. Before arm's lengths measure in inches, centimeters, millimeters, that match speech intonations, dinner dishes in the sink, toothpaste caps, emails from the boss, the number of hours our arms draped over each other from sundown to sunup.

When every hello and every goodbye feels simultaneously like the first and the last and perhaps every one in between.

Before the best and the worst, or perhaps the nothingness, the sacred or the profane, before the day but after the night, in tiny moments, simple and pure, with depth and lightness, a breath in, a breath out, stretch out, curl up, fall back to sleep.



November 4, 2013

After A Year...

...I finally pulled my camera out last weekend. Untitled And I am so very, very glad I did.

Yardsticks

I think, sometimes, of his tiny studio apartment. Before I knew studio apartments existed. Of the futon frame and card table, the folding chair set up in the corner. A single chair. The meals we ate perched on the edge of the futon. The kitchen table abandoned and standing alone against the kitchen wall. I remember the heat, sweating itself, and the hum of the air conditioner, the tip of my nose frozen at night. Chilled and cozy-warm, all rolled up into one. I remember his nighttime routine of spraying the perimeter of the room with roach repellant, while I watched from under the covers. I remember how vastly I loved everything. The solitary folding chair, the yellow glow of the kitchen light, even those tiny roaches as they came out to play each night. Too young to know any better.

I walk the city streets often now. Choosing the thirty block walk over the ten minute subway ride. "Have to enjoy the city while the weather is nice!" I excuse myself. But I'd walk these blocks in the January winds. I have. This city saves me. From what, sometimes I do not know.

I think, now, of what thirty means. Salaries, mortgages, babies. The yardsticks by which I measure myself. "Kindling for the fire," I reassure myself, break them up, try to toss them aside. Furniture and pots and pans and a recipe book. I stood on a Manhattan rooftop bar during the first few minutes of my thirtieth year and declared that this was going to be a fun year. The colorful lights of Hell's Kitchen below, bright abundance.

I taped together the broken yardsticks when he asked me, quietly, my favorite question. Old ones: tidy cuticles, cute clothes, hair that behaves. My hair will never behave. I'd gladly never be called cute another day in my life. Yet I'm scrambling trying to find the pieces, trying to get the tape just right. New ones: restaurant week choices, tickets to the ballet, creme brulee pulled right from my oven. Absurd for me. And yet.

I think about how much I loved even those roaches. The hum of the air conditioner. The kitchen table we didn't need. I think about the city blocks I choose to walk over the subway lines. How this city saves me. How I know how to save myself. The lights of Hells Kitchen from above. The questions that still take my breath away.

That's enough. I am enough.





October 25, 2013

all of the above.

sanity.
long walks from columbus circle to herald square. two cups of coffee a day. text messages. “MUST update you. very good meeting.” of course, of course. friendship with that much urgency. rambled email messages that say more than the words i write and to know i’m heard. dinner with my brother. shared quiet moments at the end of charged-sparked ride. songs on repeat. hooded sweatshirts that smell like dryer sheets. requesting hugs. used novels on amazon. hot lattes. writing.


insanity.
redundant complaints up and down the sidewalks. stomping. un-dried hair, medusa default. a bedroom without a light. contradictory instructions. heavy responsibility without any authority. two-thirty am work sessions. trying not to wait for the phone to ring. incomplete assignments - mine. six years of coursework. mistaking frustration for stress. loneliness. the way she looks at him. unpacked bags. unpacked boxes. unpacked emotions. anticipating a subway cry. 


life.
the lake. even on a rainy evening. his courage. her church whispers. when they both say “...didn’t burst into flames.” honesty. kindness. watching us (us, us, us) eat in the college dining hall more than ten years later. four hours of tears. red autumn leaves. realizing i already let it all go. for the better. unintentionally making him laugh so hard water comes out his nose.  “what are you thinking?” in a quiet that matches my quiet. to be known, in a moment, in a decade, in a single glance, in an old, familiar squeeze of the hand. i am here.

October 17, 2013

A House

I picked us out a house in the country. An old Victorian with a wraparound porch and crickets that we can hear through the screen door in the kitchen. Their chirps in the background of our murmured conversation. One last cup of coffee for the night. The dishes drying in the rack and your finger aimlessly tracing my knuckles as you talk.

I am carefully disassembling the house now. The table's empty; I'm not sure you'll even hear. The soft pop of each shingle, the swing of the door out only - each screw in the hinges removed. Board by board, I take down the walls and neatly pile the lumber. I know better, I have learned better, than to be a wrecking ball, slamming into its side - and then crumbling along with it. I wish instead to be a Notebook page and still build us a staircase, fix the leaky faucet, watch the geese migrate from the front porch. But I am of the faithless. I am taking up the floorboards of a house we never bought.

You're holding the door as she laughs her way through it. I'm looking to the moon out the train window.





[I never intended to leave this space for so long. Which makes me uneasy to say I've "returned" or unpack the (mostly boring) reasons I've been gone so long. I don't want to say "I'm back!" and then unintentionally disappear again. But if I do unintentionally disappear, I want to let you know I'm still pretty active on tumblr, twitter, and instagram (links to the right). And if I do, I'll be back again. Of that I am sure.]


June 4, 2013

June Third Two Thousand Thirteen

Hard, horizontal rain and the broken umbrella with one spoke sticking out, sharp-edged and pointed. Hot coffee down the front on my dress, first-day impressions undone in the humidity, rain, unexpected and unplanned for, I should have known, I should have known. Duck into the bathroom to run my fingers through my hair before I walk through the office door and slink into the seat in the corner, next to the empty desk with the empty chair. I could wait for years and he'd never slip into that chair, I am learning, I am learning. I could wait for years and I would still have the desk in the corner, I am learning, I am learning. I worry about this summer with the too-long hours and the studying and the rain and the rain and the rain. How many years have passed and the summer rain still undoes me. Clouds gray all day. At 5pm it downpours, and I suddenly wish for a place on that old couch in the old apartment with the rain slamming its fists against the window. There I had a place on the bathroom floor and the faucet I could turn on to muffle the sounds of my sobs. And no one knew, and no one knew.

It's a click here and a click there and the end comes, brilliant with a plus in front of the first letter, the first letter, and this should have been a celebration, success of this kind in its highest form, but I learned long, long ago to measure success differently. Of course, these days I've failed. Failed in the largest way possible because I feel like I've failed. New foundations of measured success, abandoned, step one: "beyond a wholesome discipline, be kind to yourself." I am back to step one and suddenly relieved to have the chair empty beside me, to be sitting in the corner. Drenched by the rain, wearing my morning coffee, reciting Desiderata. Over and over again.

June 2, 2013

June Second Two Thousand Thirteen

Sun-kissed shoulders and knee caps, the red lipstick kind. A few hours in the afternoon sun, the evening's cool breeze swirling the ringlets on the base of my neck. Amid errands, to-do lists, check-out lines, subway delays, hot pavement, escalators that go up and up and up; small moments strung together. Of warm lips on the top of my nose and cool fingers on the triangle between my shoulders. Melted strawberry cheesecake ice cream and gulps of ice cold water. Summer, a promise to string together the small moments amid and amid and amid. Open windows and the playful jazz notes that come dancing through on Sunday summer nights. Flashes of lightening across the dark, dark sky.






[a promise to string together the small moments amid and amid and amid]

May 17, 2013

Recognition & Re-cognition

Yesterday, on my morning subway ride, I looked up and saw my reflection. Oh, yes, there I am. Not a passing thought, but steady and centered, it held onto me for a while. Hair half-dried, half-wet, black trench coat tied lop-sided with the belt hanging down to my knees, skinny jeans, and black ballet flats. A recognition, re-cognition, of the lines of my legs, the curves of my waist, the slight arch of my shoulders. Balanced and full and calm. There I am. Recognition and re-cognition, as if I had been missing all this time. All these years. As if I always knew I'd be standing there on the A train on a Thursday morning in my twenty-ninth year, despite and in spite and because of it all. Waiting for only myself. Oh yes, there I am.

Here I am. 


April 5, 2013

Wanted: Local BFF

Untitled Wanted: Local best friend who loves coffee and/or tea and/or wine, meandering conversation, and silly jokes. Must have a penchant for long emails, late-night confessions, and stargazing. (Translation for stargazing: a hunt for direction, light, and hope amid the city's concrete and skyscrapers. A sincere belief that we can find them, even if, even if...) An appreciation for words in any form is a bonus. Must be familiar with the falling down aspects of life but mostly with the getting back up part. Ideally finds over-communication endearing. Willing to spend too much time pondering what-did-he-mean-when-he-said, even when we both know he meant precisely what he said. Hoping for someone who likes five minute phone calls mid-afternoon to discuss whether or not vitamin water goes bad and can handle almost-panicked phone calls at 11:49 pm about a helicopter flying over the apartment searching for three men who held up a bodega at gunpoint. Someone who knows when to insist on an immediate glass of wine to analyze all the details and who also has a thing for long-term plans. Someone who had no judgmental tendencies of anyone, ever. Well, almost ever. Most importantly, must be intimately familiar with the concept of throwing oneself into the unknown in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and figuring it out along the way. Actually, the very most important quality - just knows how to be a good friend.


[I am very, very grateful to have many wonderful friends in my life who match this description. I'd just like one a little closer by, please.]