A day in the (new) life

Monday morning. I’m up around 6:30-7am, my body clock was never good at the concept of “sleeping in” (or lately, “sleeping at all”). I wander to the kitchen to get the coffee started and mumble a sleepy hello to the other in the room. I stand and stretch up, good morning spine stretches and body wiggles to shake out the sleep from the night before. Coffee, breakfast, snuggles with my other and then I walk to my closet to pick out something for the day. I’ve had this routine for six plus years now, save for a few details, like the earlier alarm and the other there with me.

Outfit picked, I walk to the corner and pick up one of the rolled yoga mats, taking a minute to choose between the one I like because it’s big or the one I like because it’s better. I always choose the better one, the one that can handle my sweaty hands in the middle of sun salutations. I flow through a few stretches, a breezy playlist on Spotify soundtracking the fifteen minutes I set aside every morning to warm up a little and maybe film something for Instagram. I’ve had this routine for two plus years now, save for a few details, like how the early days were a quest to touch my toes instead of working towards a handstand, and what I’m wearing to work.

I throw on the final touches for work, quick makeup if I have the extra time and bundle up for the walk to the subway. Sometimes I say goodbye to the other but sometimes they aren’t there, having left already for work or hiding under my bed, and I pull the door shut, turning the key to the bolt and shoving my lanyard in my pocket. I hate keeping the bulky keys in my pocket, but as usual I’m holding at least two overstuffed bags, so I’ll wait till I get to the subway station to put them in my backpack. I make my way down the stairs and open the door, officially transitioning from Morning Mode to Work Mode. I’ve had this routine for a while now, save for a few details, like where I’m going now when I leave the building and and how I feel about going to work.

I spoke to an old friend for a long time over the weekend, and he said something that’s stuck with me: “Man, LB. Whoever would have though 2016 would have turned out like this?” The statement can be applied to quite a number of happenings since January 1, but we weren’t thinking that large. Really it was just looking at the small details of our lives every day, like what time we wake up and where we go to work. Sometimes for me it’s whether I walk out the door in Washington Heights or in Forest Hills, or whether I’m headed to the Upper East Side or Meatpacking. The days feel similar somehow in the small morning routines but the tiny details are something I never could have predicted, not six plus years ago, two plus years ago, whatever while ago.

After work, wherever I am, I eventually hop on a long subway home, headphones in with Spotify or a podcast and I’m usually playing Solitaire to pass the commute. I hop off the train and make the 7-minute walk back to whichever apartment I’m spending the night, Queens or upper Manhattan. I walk in the door, take off my shoes and flop onto the couch, sometimes with a cat in my arms and sometimes with A instead. I tell them about my day, and we make dinner, and listen to music while working or watching something to wind down before bed. I fall asleep with one of them next to me. I wake up the next morning and do the same thing. I’ve had this routine for a while now, save for all the little details, like how I feel about waking up the next morning to do it all over again. Because in the little details are some huge changes that make my every day anything but routine.

 

The Purge

The purge happened on Tuesday night. I was procrastinating finishing homework for my new job and started cleaning out a closet on a whim; 2 hours later my foyer was clogged with overstuffed bags of shoes, purses, jackets that I definitely haven’t worn in the past year. The purge itself felt like a funeral for my single life,  I wore [those] shoes to [that] party, and I carried [that] purse at [this] event. At one point something fell out of a purse I hadn’t used in years that immediately made me think of The Child, and then I saw a pair of shoes I haven’t worn since the night I knew Austin was the right decision. This kept happening as the bags filled faster; I wore that scarf on that awful first date, and I wore that jacket when the original Ex and I broke up. As I packed each bag there were waves of memories flashing from the time since I moved here in 2013, and when I stopped and looked at the carnage, I realized that Washington Heights no longer feels like home.

It’s not a coincidence I was living in the past on Tuesday evening. Actually, that’s how most November 15ths are for me, at least now. The thing is, November 15 is a day that I didn’t think I’d remember after a while, but it turns out I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life. Two years ago I lost a family member, the indescribable instigator of my understanding the concept of “family by choice.” Since her passing so many things have happened, not least of all the two newest (and cutest) members of the family. In two years I committed to yoga, got my cert, left the 9-5. I planned a permanent Austin vacation, then A arrived, and now I’m packing up for Queens. Two years ago from November 15 is a day I’ll remember forever. But it will also always remind me what happened three years ago that same day.

Three years feels like a lifetime. Three years is not a lifetime at all, but it is a lifetime of sorts for me. Three years ago Tuesday was when I walked away from life with the original Ex and started life on my own. That lifetime brought me so many amazing memories; that started Peaches and Jumpsuit and my all-star sister-wifing of M&N’s relationship, and there were concerts and happy hours and some of the best worst decisions in my 28 years. Three years ago feels like a lifetime, but then again so does two years ago, when we lost my aunt, and so does one year ago, just under a month before I’d meet A and I’d start a new lifetime with him.

There’s a quote from a recent TED show on NPR that has stuck with me. Well, the idea of it has stuck with me – I can’t find the actual quote as I’m writing this. Anyway, the gist was along the lines of: time does not move as quickly as we believe it will, but moves much more quickly than we expect. When we’re young, a 6-hour school day can feel like torture, because all we know is maybe 6 years of life. Of course an hour feels longer – you don’t have the past context of 10, 20, 30 years to know how fleeting one hour can be. And right now, in our late 20s, we bemoan how quickly the seasons pass, but all things considered we have a lot of time to savor the moments as we live them. It’s only after they’ve passed that we realize how fleeting each one really is. Time is a funny, fickle, silly thing, the kind of silly thing that somehow makes three years a blip and yet an entire lifetime as well.

Somehow in my split decision to clean up I packed eight freaking bags with material things to discard, enough to create a fire hazard in my hallway and three total trips up and down my fifth floor walk-up. As I huffed and puffed my way back up the stairs on the last trip up, cursing the circuit workout I’d done after my shift at Equinox earlier that day, I stopped as I walked in the door and smiled. Looking around, my apartment felt empty. It’s the beginning of the end of a short-lived yet wonderful era in life. It felt good to get rid of that literal and figurative baggage. It felt even better the next day to take the elevator up to another fifth floor apartment in Forest Hills, free of so much baggage, and run past the door into the arms of the love of my beautiful new life.

Hope and Change

Right now it’s mid-afternoon on Wednesday and I’m sitting in a coffee shop on the Upper East Side. I have a steaming mug of peppermint tea in front of me and I’m snugly secure in a sweater I “borrowed” from my boyfriend this morning; the sweater smells like him and it makes me feel safe, like he always does, like he did this morning when we woke up and read the news, and he held me in his arms and stroked my hair while I cried. I’m choking back tears now as these words pour out. I’ve been, on some level, choking back tears all day.

So many things have changed since my last words here. I never intended to take such a break from blogging, and there were days I would open up a new draft and think “this is it,” only to get distracted by another errand, another odd job, another meeting, another everything. I thought that leaving the 9-5 world would free up time for me but instead things have stayed just as busy, only this time I’m running around the city rather than sitting behind a desk. I’ve literally never been happier in my life choices, if scared and a little more than intimidated. This busyness in my life feels like early spring, where I’m planting all of these seeds that I hope to grow in the next year and beyond. I don’t mind the waiting, you see. I do mind not knowing the end result.

That brings us back to this morning. When I woke up and saw that CNN hadn’t changed the color of the map since I’d gone to bed. When I read texts from E and G and when I spoke to my sister. When it hit me that this is what we’re moving forward with as a country. I would bet you that some of my politics would surprise you, since as the daughter of a a police officer I have a lot of strong feelings on gun rights, states rights and the political elite. But this election stopped being about policy and progress a long time ago. The election atmosphere became toxic, exposing our shortcomings as a young nation and how far we still have to go to consider ourselves a true superpower in the world we currently live in. I thought the key to that was to continue with progress, not set ourselves back 30 years. I still think I am right. More people thought I was wrong.

I have so many more stories to tell here in the coming days, like why I’m no longer at a desk job, and what I’m doing instead, and what it’s like to blow up your whole life for a dream and watch the pieces fall like ashes on a windy day. I have stories about waking up in need of time with your best friends before remembering that most of them don’t live in brunch distance anymore. But I can’t tell those stories. Not yet. Not today. Soon, I promise. But I can’t today.

Today I can’t read the news because it makes me cry, and I can barely look at children on the streets without wanting to apologize for something I tried to prevent, if only through my lone ballot. But today I’m also inspired by everyone around me who feels the same way. The people that voted for the first time, the people that voted from across the world, the people who recognize our shortcomings as a nation after this long and extraordinarily arduous election. The lotus flower only grows in mud, and the sun always rises on the worst of times. Right now we’re in a tumultuous time of uncertainty and also an uncharacteristic level of hope from people who have been walking around today the same way I’ve been. There are good things coming for us out of this awful moment in our young history. I don’t mind the waiting, you see. I do mind the not knowing the end result.