'Cause I think I've gotten to that point ... the point where when you take "all potential material" and then subtract "material I've already blogged about," "material I'm using in my book" and "material I can't talk about" ... you get ... um. Not a whole lot left to say. Let's say this is a sequel to this.
I keep ditching blogs after a few hours of work on them, which's exhausting. So I'm gonna go ahead with this one, despite urges to delete it and start over. This blog has no cohesive thought pattern. It's mostly a memoir, and it goes from nowhere to nowhere by claiming to be about somewhere. Next week I'm gonna use one of your topics.
So when I re-visited the story -- which personifies cities -- before sending it to Stephanie, and also when I was doing the interview, I was thinking about Place. Travel. And so on ... 'cause I've been a little jetsetter in '08 ... and, I'm looking for good travel essays to read, do you know of any good travel writers? Gimme some leads ... I'm trying to figure out a good angle for a piece about an upcoming trip and I don't know where to begin.
Usually too much traveling stresses me out (see; last year in which I didn't even board an airplane). But during my Agoraphobic Zen Meditation Gestation Period last fall, I became a monk with no attachment to this home and therefore I'm freewheelin'.
At the same time ... Haviland's gonna stay in L.A. for a few more months; she loves it. When I met Carly she was aiming to relocate to L.A. within a year -- instead, she's moving into her first Manhattan apartment this week. A;ex and Natalie are both looking for more permanent Manhattan residences. After many months away, Heather's back in the city, stage managing on Broadway.
And for the first time since moving here four years ago; I'm taking a serious break -- I'll be out of the city for most of the next two months. I will return like The Shining.
"New York fucks me. New York fucks me so hard that I cry."
"Here I arrive there."
(Galway Kinnel, "The Road Between Here and There.")
Me: I told New York I was going to start seeing other places.
New York: You'll come back.
10. Presently: New York
It seemed inherently better; brighter lights, bolder songs, deeper & more dramatic love affairs, loftier careers, sharper children, more dramatic art. I didn't think everyone would move there -- or even try to -- only that it was, like a tropical beach w/palm tree or Prince(ss) Charming -- something most everyone enjoyed dreaming of.
I grew up and realized that wasn't true ... but still I cannot, to this day, recall how I even got the idea that I wanted to live here, it's just always been that way. Was it someone else's idea, related to wanting to be an actress, or to the Muppets or YA novels? Does anyone remember? Do you?
I envy those with roots and inertia, those who've been someplace and stayed, or stayed close, who haven't needed to get away and reinvent and leave leave leave leave all the time, or move someplace where you can initiate a do-over without switching cities.
December 2003, Michigan, out for drinks with MacGrill friends & talking about the city to a coworker who told me she'd always wanted to visit NYC, that she envied my plans to move there ... She'd been living in the same small town in Michigan all her life, she said, and hadn't ever given much thought to leaving. I asked why, she said, "Well, I just can't imagine going anywhere else, this is where my family is," and then I thought, maybe that's the thing that separates people who move to cities from those that don't. We, for whatever reason, don't feel tethered to our family or community. There's nothing keeping us where we started from, or there's something even stronger than that (I'm thinking now of specific dreams) pulling us away.
Specifically, Miami and Los Angeles -- while super-fun to visit -- felt like skating a shiny expensive surface, flexibility relative to muscle, and everyone smiling about it, like obeying a different kind of ethos, like a sports car or a smile from a cashier or like songs about music. The sky/landscape is beautiful in those places but ... I prefer regions beneath surface: things you've burned and why, when and how you let go of pride, who you wish had never seen you cry, but did, what makes you wet, what's the first thing you do after leaving your office that you can't do while you're inside it.
Miami was one of the highlights of my year, but I knew I could never live there after that terrible season of The Real World.
Austin: will do in a pinch. Is flat and hot and relentlessly wide-open and soothing like a third drink. Reminds me of other places I could imagine raising a family: Berkley, Madison, Boulder, Ann Arbor, Burlington, Athens, Brooklyn. Seems it would be pleasant but it's in Texas, I'm not a Southern girl, I hate the heat. Also ... Austin doesn't humble me and make me want to give up every day -- like New York does -- which is how I check myself to see how bad I still want it.
"Beware of saying to them that sometimes different cities follow one another on the same site and under the same name, born and dying without knowing one another, without communication amongst themselves. At times even the names of the inhabitants remain the same, and their voice's accent, and also the features of the faces; but the gods who live beneath names and above places have gone off without a word and outsiders have settled in their place."
-Italo Calvino, "Cities & Memory 5," Invisible Cities
The house I grew up in 'til 1994
A decade later, when I started working at the MacGrill (while at U of M) out by the US-23 exit, I started hanging out with kids who lived there, mostly Eastern Michigan students, and eventually ended up living there w/my annoying boyfriend.
A few blocks down from our wall-to-wall cream-carpeted home (in its mind-numbing housing development) was a strip mall featuring Wal-Mart AND Big Lots, and this is what I did when feeling empty: bargain hunt. Such satisfaction. Driving, picking up Subway sandwiches, taking Oscar outside, grocery shopping, commuting, getting the mail, getting yelled at. People in Ypsilanti were always saying they'd get a raise soon, were never paid what they needed, or already need.
Ypsi's not sure who it wants to be -- a hip downtown but also rows and rows of sprawling strip malls on all sides with stores like Honeybaked Ham, Ace Hardware, Burlington Coat Factory. Then there's campus and the world-famous Penis Tower, historic Depot Town. There's where I was elbowed in the eye.
Leaving him felt a lot like being elbowed in the eye. But no: that was just his knuckles, our cheap white walls.
6. Bronxville, NY (Sarah Lawrence College) (Fall '99)
5. Interlochen, MI (97-99)
"My present world was always, in its mildness, a little disappointing. I've never since Ault been in a place where everyone wants the same things; minus a universal currency, it's not always clear to me what I myself want. And anyway, no one's watching to see whether or not you get what you're after -- if at Ault I'd felt mostly unnoticed, I'd also, at certain moments, felt scrutinized. After Ault, I was unaccounted for."
(Curtis Sittenfeld, Prep)
4. Concord, MA (1990)
3. Champaign, IL (1981)
2. Chicago, IL
1. East Clinton, Ohio
New York: I haven't slept in like, three days.
Me: Do you want to do this later, then?
New York: Why? No, of course not. What are we waiting for?
a birthday party there in 2000, with Sarah Lawrence friends, who I'd expected to hate now that I was living in the city but no -- out of context, I realized they were all quite lovely. It wasn't them after all, it was just Bronxville, and how I felt in Bronxville. The hulking, well-lipsticked drag queens petted and solicited and harassed, it was so gaudy, so disgusting, so tourist-oriented, so fucking beautiful.
The reason I'd gone to Manhattan in the first place in 2000 was because I needed to get over it so that I could handle going home for a more affordable education. I'd been dreaming of it since East Clinton, since before my Mom met my Dad, since before Chicago and Champaign, Concord, Ann Arbor, Ypsi, Bronxville, and before during and after those cities ... my twentysomething change-of-address forms.
But lately I've felt like claiming an allegiance for this city is like telling someone about a perverse sexual fetish, like it's fallen out of fashion (though it's always been popular to hate on).
But when I venture out of my hostile neighborhood and into the parts of the city that feel like the place I signed up for, I do still have moments of feeling like Belle in Beauty and the Beast ... like I might start hurling loaves of bread into the air ... like I've gone batshit on everyone and now I'm singing to birds landing on my fingertips.
Over the next two months, I'll be spending more time away from here than I've done since moving here in 2004. I wonder how that's gonna feel.
My roots will stay here, and I don't know why really, maybe it's perverted or masochistic. But though I've spoken out against sunshine, I've never argued against perversion or masochism.
Never argued for anywhere else.
"Here I must turn around and go back and on the way back look carefully to left and to right. For here, the moment all the spaces along the road between here and there -- which the young know are infinite and all others know are not -- get used up, that's it."
"New York is three hours late to meet me, like she didn't even miss me. Her eyes are green rimmed with red. She looks sick and devastating and gorgeous. Her nails are perfect and glossy. Later, she will use them to trace the entire length of my spine with a spotted trail of blood, like I did to Los Angeles, but this time I will like it and it will remind me of hearts and love."
downtown nyc, nov.'05