There is just one problem with this making-a-living situation. (Outside of the fact that, you know, I’m not actually making a living.) My writing-for-me muscles have atrophied. I mean, that’s not entirely true — I’ve written the last two days — but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m losing definition. Fast.
I’m looking down — there’s nobody around — and I’m flexing with all my might. Let me tell you that I am definitely weaker. Maybe it’s the mirror? Maybe it’s one of the ones that they should really stop manufacturing. (And installing in every store with swimsuits for sale.) That would be good. Great, even. Highly appreciated.
You know the kind of mirror that I’m talking about — it’s the one that does a wonderful job of making you look wider, shorter, and I don’t know, doughier. That word might have to go, too. How about softer? Let’s try that on for size.
I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of that. Trying things on for size. Living together, living alone. Dating, not dating. Working nights, working days. But do you know what’s been consistently landing in the reject pile, lately? New York.
I know that I would miss parts of it. I like the grid, in Manhattan. I like the music, in and out of the park. (And the hooves clip-clopping along and the Garmins beep-beeping every 400 meters.)
I like the museums, and how accessible they are. I like the restaurants I’ve read so much about — the ones I can’t really afford, but can walk right by, whenever I feel like it. I like the hole-in-the-wall places too, and the endless amount of good recommendations.
I like the thousands of coffee shops, and the bakeries. Especially, the bakeries.
I like the air of sophistication in some places, and the discernable grit in others. I like how often the word charming springs to mind.
There’s an undeniable pulse here. And I realize how lucky I am to have experienced it, contributed to it, and learned from it.
But part of me, a huge part of me, wants a calmer life. In a place where I can work 40 hours a week and not be considered a slacker. Where I can afford to live in a real apartment, with an oven and a freezer and a couch and a bed. I think that I might be awfully happy, living in the middle of nowhere, and working just enough to support this writing habit. And the occasional block of really ridiculously priced cheese.
It’s not that I don’t understand that I need to pay my dues. I would need to do that anywhere, not just NYC. (I am only 23. Which means I also have the right to say I’m TWENTY-THREE. As in I’m an ADULT, here!)
It’s not that I’m not willing to fight for it, either. I’m up for some struggle — struggle makes for good material, after all — but I am sick of being chewed up and spit out. And I’m sick of measuring snow by the yardstick, although I understand that this particular winter hasn’t exactly been business as usual.
I guess the bottom line is that I used to think about NYC with stars in my eyes.
It was all so romantic — even the idea of scraping by. And now…now I sort of feel like I’ve been felt up and robbed blind. And I’m supposed to tote my story around like a badge of honor?
It just leaves me feeling hollow. Especially knowing that if I left tomorrow, the city would just swallow up the space I’d left behind. And eventually, it would get around to conceding just the narrowest slit of sidewalk. For the next hopeful.