Watching 70s horror on Criterion with Grace, drinking ginger tea, wearing a velvet robe, smiling. Because today one neighbor in my building lent me a wonderful book, another installed a new paper towel dispenser in my kitchen, and I helped a third fetch groceries. Which is to say: I feel bathed in care. There have been so many terrible things about 2020, but one wonderful thing is that for the first time in my 27 years as a New Yorker, I have let down my guard and connected to people who live in close proximity to me. Trust me: This is a major shift for this proud domestic isolationist. What happened was this: when the pandemic got real, the annoying millennials in my building left and ones I hadn’t known were lovely stayed and more lovely people moved in, and at first we all acted like a team out of necessity and now we’re just friends with our own text message thread even. I’m sure I’ll be the scary cat lady again at some point when they’re loud and I’m sleeping but for now I have traded the luxury of NYC anonymity for something warmer and cozier, and I am safer and a little more happily seen as a result. This seems like a metaphor for something not bad, it really does. And in a year of so much pain and so much loss and so many cold hearts, all mitzvahs deserve mention and anything not bad must be embraced. That got simpler, anyway.
It’s 7:30 am Sunday morning, and I’ve been up for hours.
That I rose before dawn is not uncharacteristic. But I’d planned to sleep in this morning. To bask in a morning of quiet stillness, quiet comfort after returning from a wonderful week alone in the woods of Columbia County and jumping head-long into the clamor of New York.
I spent so much of this busy weekend activated by the presence of others—in sessions with clients, then walking and dining and bedding my beau—that today I was pulled out of sleep hours before dawn, the need to process my interactions more powerful than my need for rest.
Mae Sarton has a wonderful passage in Journal of a Solitude about shutting the door to the world.
Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and to the rain ticking gently against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my “real” life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone…
I find that last line less ironic than simply factual. Because I do not just absorb other people’s realities. They absorb me. For me to spend time in the presence of anyone is to climb inside them, so that I am regarding the world through their senses, processing information through their nerve-endings and brain synapses. Continue Reading →
“This might be enough.”
To be sure, “enough” is a relative term. As I write this, I still don’t have enough in my accounts to cover my expenses a few months out nor do I have a steady income flow. In this way, I am in step with many many Americans, as well as people across the world.
My therapist says that I have a tendency to focus on the bright side of matters in a way that borders on dissociative, a fact that may surprise those who read my last post.
Trust me when I say it takes a lot for me to acknowledge when things aren’t working well. In fact, it’s a muscle I’m developing in real time. I used to fear disappearing into the abyss if I recognized its existence. But I’ve come to accept we can only solve a problem when we can acknowledge it.
That said, having transcended so many hard times in my life has granted me an insouciance I never experienced as a younger woman. Yes, I am still broke as I write this, but over the last few days so many have shared sweet solidarity and unexpected donations that, for this week at least, I have fresh, healthy food to eat and, for this month at least, Grace and I have a place to live in a city I love. Continue Reading →