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.

 

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Milestones

Every relationship has milestones: first date, first kiss, first sleepover, first “I love you.” Those are the cute ones, the ones people talk about, the ones you look forward to and tell your friends about the minute they happen. There are also different milestones, ones you don’t think about, as I found out on the recently-achieved First Vacation Together with A. For most of August we traveled around Norway, a trip ambitiously booked four months in advance of leaving, and without either of us realizing it, there was a lot riding on this trip. Neither of us knew what to expect, and as we eventually discussed, we were both quite nervous about it. It turns out there are a lot of milestones when you’re on vacation with someone for 10 days traveling around a foreign country, more than I ever expected or could ever plan for. They’re kind of cute, in a weird, gross, super-real and also wonderful kind of way.

There are the weird milestones, that honestly are mostly about pooping. Like, it’s one thing to spend a few days at apartments in New York City, but 10 straight days in foreign apartments together is a whole separate level from your comfortable apartments. You get really close, really quickly, and that kind of closeness is the silly kind of thing that has the ability to tear your relationship apart or make it stronger. There are the scary milestones that happen when you spend 10 days straight with someone too. Chronic pain is something that A and I deal with as the third wheel in our relationship; usually it’s one of his injuries but this time one of mine got in the way. We had to cancel our first planned hike because of A’s back; we had to cancel our remaining hike on the morning of because of my knee. I thought he would be mad, maybe sad, maybe even disappointed, but instead he just let me cry out my own disappointment and then we planned an amazing day in Stavanger anyway. We adapt together well; I didn’t know that before this trip.

There were a lot of things I didn’t know before this trip. I didn’t know that he likes to get to airports early like I do, and I didn’t know how many Roots t-shirts he actually owns, which is a lot (maybe too many?). I didn’t know how we would live together for that long, because we talked about living together like its a given without any reason to think so positively, and I didn’t know if 10 days together would solidify what I’ve been feeling since the day I met him or if we would kill each other by the plane ride home. And there are a lot of things I learned on the vacation. I learned that my boyfriend is a 10 year old and likes to chase me around foreign apartments calling me Poopface while I’m simultaneously mortified and hysterically laughing. I learned that breaking the only razor on day 7 means I shouldn’t wear a sleeveless top and cropped leggings on a crowded plane for day 10. I learned that a lot of relationship milestones have to do with pooping, really, and I learned that I’m also a 10 year old because I think that nickname is adorable and high-fiving A over shared bowel stories is gross but also really awesome.

I also learned it’s possible to enjoy every single second of 10 days with someone who makes you laugh and cry and frustrates you before making it all okay again. I learned that 10 days with someone can completely transform a relationship without changing a goddamn thing. I learned more about the idea of forever. I spent a lot of time in the realm of thinking about forever. I learned what it’s like to consider 48 hours without someone after 10 days of constantly being with him and before that even happened I learned it made me cry too much, because those 48 hours felt like the kind of forever I want to avoid. I learned a lot this vacation. I learned a lot in the week since. Mostly I learned that I’m the luckiest girl in the whole damn world, and my forever these days is the best mix of Nows.

Fog Lights

Yesterday was a weird day. I tried to write a post about this past weekend, where we celebrated how wonderful E is and what it’s like to watch someone change their life for the better, but it kept coming up short. I wanted to tie it into a larger piece about our pasts and maybe eventually I will, but I kept stopping and staring at the words. I felt really stifled at the thought of delving back into my past for inspiration. I started to feel really stifled at the thought of my past at all. And I started to tell myself that maybe this reality I’m living would become a similar type of past in the near future, and this giant fog fell over my whole day that I couldn’t shake for anything.

I’m really bad at being happy, it turns out. Like, resorting to self-sabotage-bad at enjoying happiness for what it is in that moment instead of freaking out that things are going too well and have to stop going that well soon. It comes in waves, this resurgence of the anxiety that’s plagued me for years, but lately it’s sticking around. It’s not like it used to be, where it was intrinsically connected to my then-self, where I couldn’t disconnect where my anxiety ended and I began. Right now it feels like a bandaid I don’t want to rip off; I know it’s not a part of me and it’s temporary, but I’d rather let it hang out to the side for now and I’ll get rid of it when I’m ready. Anxiety sticks to everything when you pay it too much attention: new job, finances, plans for the next year, and relationships. Right now I’ve managed to assuage fears about the new job, about our budget for the Norwegian adventure, about any plans that haven’t come to fruition, and so it stuck to my relationship, because I’m really, really happy, so obviously that means everything is wrong.

When you live in this mindset it’s hard to be present externally because you’re so focused on what’s happening inside your ego, your mind.  Last night A and I went out for dinner with a few friends in Queens and I think I said three sentences all night. He could tell immediately I was off, but didn’t push, he just let me sit and be, clearly inside my own head about absolutely nothing.  When he asked me later “are you okay?” I told him the truth and said “Yes,” because I am okay. I’m just off, and I don’t know why. Sometimes for people that’s a lot to handle, when someone is okay but then again they’re not, and there’s nothing to do to fix it.

Not A, though. No, he knew exactly what to do. He didn’t push me to talk when we got back to his place; he didn’t try to offer solutions to fix every problem in my life and he didn’t ignore that I was off. Instead, he put on Last Week Tonight, handed me my favorite sweatpants of his and we snacked on peanut butter pretzels. When we settled into the couch he laid behind me and held me close. He stroked my hair and kissed my cheek and said he’d missed me the previous week. And we stayed there, half asleep, even after the show was over and the television was blank, until it was time to go to bed, where we talked about Norway till we fell asleep in the middle of sentences.

I woke up this morning like a new person, like something had been switched back to “on” and I could see through the fog. I made us coffee and we watched old SNL clips for no reason until it was time to leave. It felt like the bandaid had fallen off overnight and all the delving back into my past from the weekend that opened up the old anxiety wound didn’t matter anymore. The past has happened and the future will come, but the present is really beautiful for what it is: the sliver of sunshine amid a sea of fog that comes with a little self-awareness and a whole lot of love.

Really, really, ridiculously

Sometimes things aren’t going well, and sometimes that’s where inspiration flows. For me it’s as simple as a bad commute, a bad practice in the morning, an exhausting day at work, and all of a sudden I can hyper-focus on all the terrible things I’ve ever done in my life and I have entries coming out of my brain like a typewriter ribbon, click click of the keyboard and I’ve got enough inspiration to last me a month. Some people only write in that world of inspiration, and I can understand why. It’s easy to create relatable material to the bad days, because we all have them. Some people like to live in that sphere of bad days, woe is me, everything is wrong; tragedy is inspiration and it would be meta-tragic to lose that muse.

Not today for me though. Not after this past week, this past weekend, the past month, hell, the entirety of 2016. It hit me recently that I’m really, really ridiculously happy. After minor freak-outs last week about things like “why is it so freaking hot in this subway station” and “what the fuck was I thinking leaving a job I loved?” the past five days have been, in one (non-existent) word, cra-mazing. As in Crazy. And also Amazing.

Life is crazy. I switched jobs. I’m staring down the likely barrel that I need to start planning when and how I’ll pack up my apartment after four years of living in the Heights, even though this is the time where I thought I’d be in the home stretch till moving to Texas. I’m trying to figure out if and how I can make it as a yogi in this concrete jungle I’m lucky enough to call home. My grandmother is in the hospital again. One month from tomorrow A and I leave for a two-week adventure around Norway and this summer feels like it’s already slipping away. I’ve put on ten pounds. My best friends moved to Vietnam. I haven’t seen my other best friends in months. Because life is crazy. Life is insane, life is can’t-stop-won’t-stop crazy.

But my word, life is amazing. Life is really, really, ridiculously good looking amazing. Tonight I have the summer party for my new agency, a chance, I hope, to keep getting to know this wacky group of people I’m already excited to call coworkers. This Tuesday I have dinner with my sorority big, and we haven’t caught up in way too god damn long. This Wednesday A and I are going to a concert in Forest Hills because why not, it’s summer! This Friday we’re watching D&D’s pit bull, which means a weekend in the Upper East Side, and on Saturday we have plans with R and H that have been on the calendar since May. May!! That is just the next week of my life and every piece of it makes me so excited and happy to be here, exactly here, in this moment, in this city, in this life.

And every day there’s A. Every day there’s someone who texts me “good morning” and “good night” and all day in between; every day there’s someone who tells me everything is going to be okay and brings me peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s after I cry on the phone telling him I don’t think it will be. Every day there’s someone in my life who is really, really ridiculously good looking and smart and sweet and kind, and this past weekend we danced like nerds together at a bar with no walls while the summer rain raged outside, and I stopped for a minute to stare at him, because I realized he picked me and that thought took my breath away. Every day there’s someone who tells me “I love you” and it’s like the first time I’ve heard those words from anyone, and I feel like I can do anything. Maybe even fly. (okay maybe not literally but it’s pretty sweet hearing those words all the same).

Life is crazy. Life is amazing. Life is cra-mazing. Life will go back to the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, the inspiration in the bad days or the slow churn of monotony, but man, I wanted to remember how crazy, amazing and really, really, ridiculously wonderful it is right now.

Ten Pounds

Something interesting I’ve learned on this little break from real life is that in 2016 I’ve gained 10 pounds. That’s not terribly interesting, I know, but when you’ve spent most of your adolescent and adult life freaking out about your weight, then finally making it to a point where you’re comfortable, seeing a number creep up like that puts you in an interesting mindset.

Funemployment this week has been more needed than I realized. It’s so rare to have time where I can completely power down and do nothing. I’m not worried about work emergencies or emails because I don’t have any; I’m not worried about making it somewhere on time because I don’t have a place to be. I had every intention last week of being so productive, blogging ahead of schedule, cleaning my apartment, doing all of the yoga, prepping for the classes I’m teaching in the next few months, but most of my free time I spent sitting. Relaxing. Meditating. Lots and lots of Netflix. I needed to power down completely from the past six years of steady working and just enjoy a few days to myself. I found out as a pleasant surprise last week that my time off between jobs has now been extended for another week, which means I’ll be more productive this week, since I can’t keep doing nothing. But the week of nothing was something I desperately, desperately needed to get the ten pounds of baggage off of my back that I’ve been carrying around for so long.

When you have nothing but time on your hands, you have nothing to stop a wave of thoughts, memories, emotions, everything that’s easy to suppress when there are emails to send and meetings to attend and other responsibilities to cater to, from surfacing. Think back to a time where an embarrassing memory from years ago popped into your head out of nowhere and you find yourself overwhelmed with the same shame as if it had happened again in that moment. I had a lot of moments like that this week, mostly because I had nothing else to think about. I had moments where I berated myself for not doing “more,” and I had lots of “holy shit what am I doing” moments about the job and about my life in general. I also had a lot of time to reflect on 2016, now that it’s halfway over, and my word it’s crazy how much has happened and how many things have changed. I wanted to dwell on all of those for a while but then I went back to Connecticut for a few days and learned that I put on ten pounds and for a little while that’s all I could think about.

At first those ten pounds were really negative. It’s weight on me I don’t want or need, it’s a reminder that I haven’t been as active in my  yoga practice as I should be and physical proof I’ve been neglecting the healthy foods that I love. It’s a reminder that my birthday is coming up soon and I’m getting older, and the days of endless beers and chicken wings may already be behind me. Ten pounds seems and feels and maybe even looks like a lot, especially when you’re someone who puts a lot of stock into some silly numbers on a crude metal square.

And then I started thinking about where those ten pounds came from. Those ten pounds are muscles in my arms that allow me to hold myself upside down with a semblance of ease. They’re trips to Austin to eat too many tacos with G, and they’re beers after a long Memorial Day hike with T and our persons. The ten pounds are handfuls of chocolate to survive a meeting with some of the best coworkers and enjoying the last few free lunches with them even if the food isn’t “Whole30 approved.” The ten pounds are new memories making their way into me as I let old ones that dragged me down go, replacing the illusion of a “perfect” body with real memories, like laughing with new friends that are some of the best people I’ve ever met. And those ten pounds are maybe skipping a yoga class or a healthy meal for date nights with someone who’s changed my whole life since he’s been in it.

So next week I’m starting a new job ten pounds heavier. New responsibilities, people, emails, meetings to weigh me down even more, especially after this much-needed mental vacation. Reflecting back though, I can take a little extra weight on me now and again. I may be ten pounds heavier, but for all the good, bad and in-between changes in 2016, ten pounds is a small price to pay.

What if it’s not perfect?

Last night I was stretching a bit when I decided to film my warm-up for an Instagram post. I use Instagram as a way to connect with other yogis, to help promote classes, and yes, to show off if I’ve learned something new, but honestly it has a tendency to cause me more stress than happiness. Instagram posts have to be PERFECT, you need a million and one likes, everyone is judging. I judge the videos I put up there more any anyone, watching my form, critiquing myself as a student and a teacher. Last night when I decided to take a video, I had to break from warming up to set up the shot: decide what angle to shoot, which mat to use, I had to put on a bra… the more I put the “set” together, the most anxiety I started to feel. What if this angle looks bad? What if it’s not right? What if it’s not perfect?

For a minute I thought about calling the “shoot” off, because let’s be real, if you’re stressed out about yoga you’re doing it wrong. But then I realized that the only thing that was going to calm me down was yoga. It’s ironic, almost, that I was creating anxiety by setting up to practice, but as I laid on the mat and started to stretch, I forgot that the camera was on. It’s like yoga was setting me up to remind me that everything is always okay at the end of the day. Even when you’re stressed, or sad, or confused, or all of the above rolled into a weird pit of anxiety that stays in your stomach, at the end of the day, things have a way of working themselves out, and everything is going to be okay. That was a great way to end a Thursday night, as I woke up this morning knowing I’ll have to say some really tough goodbyes.

Change is wonderful but it’s scary. Sometimes I start chasing change, but in other aspects of my life change isn’t necessary. Change, though, can come at any time, when you expect it or when you don’t, and sometimes change chases you when you least expect or need it. Sometimes the stars align and the next two weeks, six months, one year, three years all start to form in this beautiful plan, that makes everything seem so obvious and clear and yet at the same time it makes everything in this moment really freaking sad.

I gave notice at a job I loved on Tuesday. It’s the kind of job I’ve spent my whole career looking for: great clients, great culture, great location, great everything. But more than all of those parts it was great people. It was people that, without realizing, helped me become a stronger, smarter and more driven person. That’s the kicker, really – their pushing me to become better is the reason I gave notice on Tuesday, because pushing me to do better is pushing me somewhere else as a result. Today I’m leaving this job and I’m leaving in tears. I  know it’s the right decision, but oh man right now it sucks.

I’m really nervous. Nervous about leaving today and starting somewhere new in a few weeks. What if I don’t like the new job? What if it’s not right? What if it’s not perfect? But it’s just like yoga fixing anxiety caused by yoga – the only thing that’s going to calm me down is to walk in the new office doors and start working. It’s going to be different and scary. But things have a way of working themselves out, in the end. They always do.

A Series of Nows

I have so many things rolling around in my head I want to write about and talk about. The whole month of May has been so frantic that I feel as though I’m never anywhere for long, a state of constant travel and never, never spending enough time at home.

There’s the camping weekend that wasn’t from a few weekends back, where Friday the 13th ruined a planned trip with rain but rewarded us with the most perfect day drinking Saturday, where margaritas at brunch turned into rooftop beers turned into midnight pizza with friends. I remember a moment from that day, on the rooftop gossiping with a wonderful new friend like we’d known each other for years; we were all making fun of each other and laughing with each other and I felt like I had a group again. And before the end of the night, snuggled into A on a chair that turned and laughing with the friends who technically introduced us, I took a look around me and for that moment in time everything felt like home.

There’s the Boston weekend, the annual girl’s trip last week, finally joined by D, who has been part of the family for years but hasn’t made it up for the trip yet. It was easily the best year ever: laughing together as we had to pee desperately in traffic on the drive up, getting a noise complaint less than five minutes after getting into our hotel room, drinking hot toddys because we’re “sick.” D’s face when she watched the ballet described all of our faces at the B ladies, past, present and future, spending a weekend of no drama all together. Sometimes I’m sad that my Twinster lives so far away and sometimes I feel guilty that I get so much time with D and she doesn’t, but this weekend I remembered we’re family, and no matter where we are or how long it’s been, when we’re together it will always feel like home.

And then there are the tough moments. There’s realizing I haven’t had a solid yoga practice for a few months because life won’t stop moving and any free time I have is spent doing fun things like laundry and repacking the same duffel bag over and over because I haven’t had a weekend at home in longer than I care to count. There are late nights in the office where I just want to cry and sometimes I say terrible things like “what do you want from me” and “this wouldn’t have happened if I were still moving.” There are bad days where someone’s car gets towed and I know it’s not my fault but it feels like it, and there are the terrible moments where I think I’m finally going to hear those eight letters in response but instead it’s “sleep well” and I can’t sleep at all. Soemtimes all I want is some time at home to myself like the old days and I wonder if I’ll ever feel that security of home again in this new life that’s happening so quickly I can’t catch up.

But then there’s moments like last night. The first night I’d seen C since March. A night on a rooftop with wine and duck pizza and even though I completely forgot her birthday present (AGAIN), I caught up on her life and I couldn’t believe how much I’d missed her. She laughed while I fumbled with my 17 bags and a glass of wine, trying to hold popcorn and a mini champagne bottle without spilling any of them, and I laughed while we took Snapchat selfies and reclined in the cool night air, waiting for a few hours of 90s glory to entertain our Tuesdays. We caught up on people that we both know and we caught up on new people that only we know and walking back late after the movie ended I stupidly led her to a subway entrance with no card machines and we rushed through a goodbye so she could get home at a decent hour, but it was okay. It was perfect actually. A rooftop movie in midtown on a beautiful New York City evening, watching Clueless with one of my favorite people felt like home as much as everything else above did too.

Retrograde

We’re goin’ hippie on the Chronicle again! Please feel free to tune out if you’re not into planetary motions and cosmic energy and come back later this week when I have another entry up (probably). I have a post I’ve been working on all week that I was hoping to have up today but just can’t seem to finish it, and then today happened and all I can think about is retrogrades and how they’re fucking with my life right now.

Even if you don’t believe in hippie mumbo-jumbo, you have to admit there’s something to be said about how the cosmos affects our tiny beings. The moon rules the tides, the ebbs and flows of the ocean, the motions of time. The planets all revolve around a single entity, held together by an energy that everyone accepts but doesn’t understand; we’re all ruled by the same cosmic matter and energy that creates the planets, a solar system, the trees in Central Park and the desk I’m writing this entry on. Is it so crazy to think that planetary movements, therefore, govern things that we can’t explain but accept as truth?

It is? Okay fine. Again, I invite you to stop reading now and come back later this week for more of my normal rambling.

Made it this far? Great. Mercury is currently in retrograde (looks like it’s moving backwards in the sky) and has been since late April. Mercury rules communication and technology, which is why when things are going haywire in our lives, people will jokingly blame Mercury retrograde. Retrogrades aren’t necessarily meant to be bad times actually – it’s just that the planet’s energies are expressed differently, more inward than outward. So yes, when technology goes haywire you can blame the retrograde, but this particularly long retrograde I’ve taken the opportunity to turn inwards on my own communication and goals to try and find growth in a period of backtracking. I’ve come to a lot of really interesting conclusions, meditating on all this, but there’s one really, really big one that I can’t run away from anymore, even though I’ve been trying to for a long time.

I really, really, really miss my best friend.

This is expressed for me in a million different ways right now for a lot of different people, but the one taking center stage is M. I miss M with my whole being. Literally every part of me aches every time I pass their old apartment or when I see that I’ve missed another text or a FaceTime from her, a product of backwards communication during this time. Everything reminds me of the past five years where she was my rock, the only one who could keep me sane, and for some reason this past week has been the hardest since she left, because we’re somehow talking more and saying less and I just want to walk the three blocks to her old apartment where she’s waiting for me with a glass of wine and an open ear.

And I miss the rest of my friends. H and I tried to plan a time where he and R and me and A could all get together and we’re not free at the same time till nearly August. C and I fortunately have a set date for a rooftop movie next week where I’ll finally be able to give her the birthday present I got for her birthday in February. S and I just laugh when we try to plan anything lately because we’re literally on opposite schedules. I’m so lucky to have A and his friends on a similar schedule, and they’re all wonderful, but except for K they’re not my people, not yet. Lately I feel like I’m floating in this weird bubble of life: this was supposed to be the countdown to my move, the countdown to a new beginning, the last weeks to see everyone; now I’m stuck and it’s hard not to feel alone.

Anyway. My whole life feels like a retrograde right now, moving backwards because none of us are where we thought we’d be at this point in our lives. This particular retrograde is ending on Sunday, and things will start to even out; things will start to move forward again. Energies will stabilize, and life will come together. I suppose that’s the best I can hope for, that things stabilize slowly in the next few days.

Either way, we’ll all adjust to the changes, the retrogrades, the new lives. We always do.

Oler

They say smell is the sense with the strongest ties to memory, and there’s nowhere I’ve been with more distinct smells than New York. People associate the city smells with the bad ones, a long line of smoke from one of the people ahead of you, trailing tobacco and marijuana, and the occasional pipe smoke too; the garbage that piles up in the summer has an acrid yellow tinge to the smells and the memory, a toxic haze to the long, hot days we dream about all winter long. There’s the unmistakeable smell of unwashed flesh that permeates an empty subway car and so many corners of the city, the smell you learn to run from, the memory tinged with compassion and pity for how many people have to watch others run from them because they don’t have a $1,500 a month closet to shower in. I have so many memories of this city in my approaching-six years here and I would be lying if many of them weren’t tinged with one of the smells above or the myriad other terrible ones I’ve encountered. It says a lot about a memory, when the best you can associate it with is a bad smell.

Sometimes when I look back on bad weeks, I remember a terrible smell from somewhere in that time, and then I wonder if it’s a smell from that time at all, or if the sensory overload we experience daily here just demands a smell attach itself to every memory made. I don’t even think they’re all my bad memories or bad smells really. Like the week a few months back where everyone else I knew was having a miserable go at life and all I could do was offer my near-limitless optimism; looking back on that week I can remember the ashy, cool smell of black snow leftover on the sidewalk, but it barely snowed this year after the big storm in January, and I don’t think the week I’m remembering was snowy at all. But the memory of everyone around me getting dealt blow after blow, and me fighting to find a little sunshine for them, that memory to me feels and smells like that: cool, ashy, dirty, leftover and waiting to melt away. And the week after that one, where my life started exploding, that week is connected with the smell of forgotten raw turkey burgers left on top of the fridge instead of inside it, a pleasant surprise to come home to after two days of work and one night in Queens; I don’t remember when I did that but I do remember almost crying when I came home to that smell after a long week, and then just before a tear fell I started to laugh hysterically, because in reality…. it was a pretty hilarious and stupid thing to do.

Yesterday I was walking to the subway the long way after work, taking a few extra minutes to go to Penn Station instead of 14th Street. It’s been a really odd week again, the high of watching a full studio of friends in savasana tinged with the grief of two people  I love experiencing unexpected and unimaginable losses. The past few days have also made something really, really apparent: I miss my best friend. People keep telling me it’ll get easier adjusting to life without M and N around the corner, and I suppose in some ways it has. But it will never be easier having my best friend in a different country. It’s just a new normal that I have to adjust to, and this new normal lately is tinged with that acrid yellow, that ashy cold gray like winter and the faint burning of someone else’s smoke, the smells of bad memories in NYC. Walking through midtown to Penn Station yesterday I felt sad somehow, dejected. Things are changing in ways I couldn’t plan for and sometimes I wonder if everything will be okay.

And then I passed one of those roasted nut vendors, the famous ones dotting the city with that intoxicating aroma of roasted sugar and cashews, and as I lifted my nose to inhale I found myself staring at the top of the Empire State Building. Little memories started popping back into my mind, the citrus and mint essential oil from the first vinyasa class I ever taught on my own, the charred, smoky smell from a perfect burger on a first date in December, and the way the city smells alive, constantly changing, constantly moving. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice, staying in this expensive, smelly, loud, exhausting city, especially when my best friend is gone. But part of me knows I would never really leave it all behind. The good and bad memories, the good and bad smells. This is my New York, and I love every piece of it, starting with every distinct smell.

24, 48, 72 Hours

Last week was a really, really long week. Food poisoning completely wiped my appetite and joy in eating, as I would take three bites of things and feel nauseated; that exhausted and sick feeling did a great job masking how poorly I was really handling my two best friends moving across the world which spoiler alert: wasn’t very well. Work is getting busier and my yoga practice has been suffering as a result of all of the above, with barely more than 10 minutes available every day for me to meditate or stretch just a bit. It’s funny how all these things can come together in a perfect storm of awful confusion, the kind where not even your favorite chocolates and flowers from a very supportive boyfriend can help. I’ve been on my own for a few years now and I didn’t realize how poorly I would handle having someone try to be there for me when I really needed support.

I’ve thought a lot about this entry, talking about what it’s like to say goodbye to your best friends, even though it’s not really goodbye considering M and I literally haven’t stopped texting aside from the 21 hours they were on planes. And I can’t compare my experience of transitioning to a life in the city without them to their experience transitioning to an entirely new culture even a little bit. I started to expand on the actual goodbye itself, clinging to M outside Central Park as my whole body shook with sobs and we couldn’t say anything more than “Thank you for the past six years” and “I love you,” N and A looking on at us pointedly judging because girls are crazy. Even writing that one sentence I’m overwhelmed with tears, where I’m so happy for them and I’m so excited for them but I’m reminded of the empty feeling that my nights have sometimes, void of the option to stop by their apartment for a quick visit on the way home from work. This paragraph is as much as I can talk about them leaving, really, because it’s the most I’ve opened up about it since it happened.

Thursday and half of Friday last week are a complete blur. I mean that literally. I remember waking up and going to work, going through the motions of being in the office, going home and watching Netflix in near-silence with A while he tried to ask me gently how I was doing and I shut it down by snapping at him or turning up the television. A small family emergency popped up in the afternoon that required me to leave work the next day to head to Connecticut for an overnight with my baby nephews, Aunt Lo to the rescue because their poor mama can barely stand, let alone hold two growing baby twins. That was where I kept my energy focused from mid-Thursday on at that point, the promise of an afternoon with those sweet boys. I couldn’t process the myriad emotions running through my mind, stress and sadness and loss and support but I could look forward to an afternoon with two little munchkins that needed me to take care of them. I went through the motions of “nice girlfriend” on Friday morning, A cautiously tip-toed around me as I made coffee and avoided eye contact lest his unending support cause me to start to feel real emotions. I stayed in that funk all day at my desk, not talking that much to anyone, just focusing on the clock until mid-afternoon came and with it, the sweet release of the weekend.

It’s really interesting, the waves of emotions that come after a week of sickness and goodbyes and emergencies and loss. But sitting on the train headed to Connecticut, after waves of awful emotions for the past 24, 48, 72 hours, out of nowhere in a really profound moment, I felt this tangible calm wash over me. I started texting jokes with A and a friend from work, and I smiled when I heard from the recent Vietnamese residents, content knowing M and N were safe in their new home. The weekend ahead promised beautiful weather, time with my family, time with A and a Sunday dedicated to yoga with my best friend from yoga training, someone I haven’t seen nearly enough in the weeks since the sanctity of that studio. Life had changed, somehow, in the short amount of time that I left New York for five days in Austin, and now life was settling too, the new life, the one I’m staying in New York to live. Mourning the loss of my friends around the corner or in the same time zone just happened to coincide with all of that and overshadowed everything. There’s a peace when everything settles though. Life returns to its new normal, waiting for the next change to come along.