August 26, 2012
A Day in the Life || Saturday
At the end of the day, I'm hardly sure of how I got here. Sitting on this mini-couch, left here by someone else, my belongings unpacked and strewn and still packed. It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a lot of one foot in front of another. All of it.
I woke this morning energized but far from refreshed and far earlier than I anticipated. But what do I know anymore? Showering still requires unpacking and rearranging and repacking in what is both a shoebox and luxury suite at once. If I've learned anything the past few years, it is how to hold contradictions. How to honor both opposites.
I opted for messy hair, red lips, and my blue dress. The first day of my new year deserves a hearty attempt at just being me, yes? It was almost chilly this morning with a strong breeze that had me posing like Marilyn Monroe on my front porch. Or my front stoop. I don't remember which, and like everything else, I'm just never quite sure. Fall approaches, though. Of that I am sure.
I'm embarrassed by the amount of time it took me to get from my house and into lower Manhattan. I counted every minute I spent waiting for the bus and wondered why I never bother to actually check the schedule. Weekend track work (that isn't technically called weekend track work, I don't think, but I'm not sure) made my long ride even longer and I probably should have stayed in Brooklyn, but what do I know anymore?
I arrived in lower Manhattan later than anticipated, but the city was just waking up. I wanted coffee but needed lunch. Stopping to eat is such a kill-joy, at least that much has not changed, but I didn't have much choice in the matter, so I ate an early lunch. It was in the mirror above the Whole Foods lunch counter that I caught sight of my red lips and still blue eyes and realized how much has changed and how little has changed since I first sat down for a meal at Whole Foods over five years ago. How different this beginning feels from my first few days in Maine and in law school. How much more I know of myself now. And how much more I value that.
I walked around the farmer's market after leaving Whole Foods, opting for kale over caffeine. The vendors come from upstate towns I knew from college and my treks along the New York interstates. I had to restrain myself from bounding over and asking about life upstate. Ask about what exactly, I wasn't sure, but I recognized the town names and surely that meant we were kindred spirits. Every third person had a camera in hand, or so it seemed, and I didn't worry at all about being mistaken for a tourist. I didn't worry about anything. I planned lunches for the week with produce I didn't buy and planned which Brooklyn neighborhoods in which to buy based on their proximity to the Union Square farmer's market with down-payment savings I don't have. But dreams come true, right? And I thought: of course. Of course. And I walked and I walked and I snapped and I snapped and the shutter clicked and the people smiled and I smiled. I smiled.
It was then, in the midst of a smile, that I remembered I still had not gotten coffee. Coffee is usually the peak-of-the-peak of the morning event, so off I went. But jetting off now includes pulling out my phone and yelping coffee shops and googling directions and walking in the wrong direction twice. Everything, even coffee, takes twice as long these days. I finally found the almost-five-star-yelp-review coffee shop and walked in with tired legs, ready for an afternoon of writing and sipping. Mid-Manhattan, mid-day, mid-weekend, I should I have known: the coffee shop is full of twentysomethings and laptops. They didn't look up and certainly wouldn't get up, so I decide to get a cup to go.
My mid-morning coffee had turned into almost mid-afternoon coffee. I didn't have a place to write. Plans perpetually gone array, and no matter how much I want this transition to be simple, it simply isn't. With a feeling only slightly less than defeat, I walked back to Union Square to catch the subway and head home. Over an hour home, but home nonetheless. Home, coffee, lunch... I counted the basics and the basics count for something, I told myself.
I decided, mostly out of weariness, to try to find a free spot on one of the Union Square park benches. One lap around the park in search of a bench seat, I promised myself. No attachments to a seat or to happiness, it is what it is and nothing more. Lo and behold, a couple got off a shaded bench right as I walked by. I took their seat and a mother with an infant sat down next to me. As if on cue, a guitar player set up to play in front of us and a photographer dropped a couple of dollars in the guitar case in exchange for photographic permission. The guy with the guitar nodded twice and I took a sip of my coffee. It had finally cooled down. A breeze swept through and the guitar player began to sing.
His voice was smooth and melodic. He played songs I could have found on my itunes and I wondered why they weren't there already. A live, acoustic guitar. A cup of coffee. A photographer at work. A content infant. A cool breeze. It was better than I could have ever planned. There sat my happy heart, content and bursting.
That is my New York, right now. Unpacked and disheveled, twice too long, tired legs, and a happy heart, content and bursting. All of it, better than I could have ever planned.