I had such a lovely break from the city–sunrises by the sea, swanning on tree-laced hammocks, cartwheeling in big fields–and such a bumpy reentry. On the drive back a glass-encased candle–an uncrossing candle, no less–exploded in my car, my phone abruptly went dead and still is not fixed as I type this, and so many serious accidents took place on the highways that the normally 3.5-hour trip took 7 hours. It’s not just that my nerves were shot; it’s that I could feel everyone else’s were shot, too. Finally somewhere in Connecticut I broke down in tears–the messy kind, not the pretty kind– and had to pull to the side of the road. Aloud I said: “Okay, higher spirit. You’ve secured my attention. What do you want me to know?” In response I could not just hear but see the Rilke quote: You must change your life. And here I’d thought I already had, though I guess thus far said change has been inflicted rather than invited.
I know some of what I need to do but if the rest were obvious or easy, I’d have done it long ago. This is, after all, the human experience: We learn by expanding our horizons, by stepping out of our comfort zones, in this case literally. Living so isolated from nature drains me to a degree I only acknowledge on the rare occasions I’m by the ocean or beneath a tree by myself. Yet the craving for unadulterated fields, for the noisiness of birds and wind and crickets, pulses beneath all the decoration of my New York life no matter how I try to drown it out, and it grows stronger in the shadow of dystopia. Even as I zoomed back to the city I no longer love monogamously I still heard the heartsong I breathed in that big air, and how to return to All That now looms as my biggest question though others should take precedence. Being middle-aged, it turns out, teaches us to heed older rhythms and wiser notes than what our tiny brains can measure.
Grace is glad I’m back, anyway. My friend takes my absence so seriously that I could hear her weeping as I climbed the stairs to my apartment. Witches and their familiars should never be parted.
If the last decade has taught me anything, it’s that I can do everything myself. If the last month has taught me anything, it’s that this isn’t always the best approach.
Like most bad jokes, it all comes down to a lightbulb. I boast about my apartment’s high tin ceilings, but they make it difficult to change the bulbs in my overhead lights. For years I lured tall, handy men into doing my dirty work, all puns intended. Then I had Mr. Oyster, and for a brief moment thought I’d solved all my problems. In the long aftermath of that relationship, I started hiring Taskrabbits, but even the noncreeps proved too forward. Men really do love damsels in distress, or at least preying on them. Continue Reading →
This is the first Tuesday morning I haven’t had to climb into into critic drag in more than five years. My show, Talking Pictures, was cancelled along with most of NY1’s other entertainment programming; the layoff dovetails with the end of my 15-year tenure as a labor journal editor, a job that quietly conferred the bulk of my financial stability. All to say: I am at a serious crossroads. But like clockwork, I rise with the dawn anyway–make coffee and Gracie’s breakfast and putter into my office. For a minute I’m floored. What shall I do with this time? What path shall I forge forward?Then my eye falls on the flowers still blooming on my desk from last weekend’s readings. Freesia and pussy willows, still sitting pretty in my ecosystem like the most gracious of emissaries: pollenated, fragrant, soft. I sigh and take a deep soldiering breath. I can do this, I’m pretty sure. I can do this, though I don’t even know what “it” is yet. This is spring. This is not the time to fall.