Panic in Portland

We’re just going to fly through the last few days, if that’s okay. Make it a picture-heavy recap. I think you might appreciate that. And because I think New York might operate exclusively on Fast-Forward, it feels okay — feels sort of right — to approach “the end” this way.

It felt like it came down to just a few nails and a clothing rack awfully quickly.

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But before that, there was a picnic in the park. A picnic in the park, with salumi I called salami and cheese I could only call good, very good. And there was focaccia. Focaccia I couldn’t stop eating.

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There was a walk around the West Village, which I never quite managed to distinguish from Greenwich Village. There was an afternoon, gone in 15 minutes, with a friend I wish I’d gotten to know better than I had. And there was a fair amount of cuddling (no, not that kind), with an indiscriminately enthusiastic puppy. He had paws the size of my brother’s hands, and he made me want to come up with $900, quick.

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There was also a scone — a caramel-covered pumpkin scone, to be exact — from Alice’s Tea Cup. Alice (or whoever I like to think of as Alice) was my neighbor for the better part of a year. On my second-to-last day, I decided it was high time for one of her scones.

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And there was some room saved — cheerfully shoved aside, really — for one last Levain cookie. Chocolate-chip walnut. There was also a heart-stopping moment in which the word last really sunk in. Managed to penetrate my bubble of melty/salty/buttery bliss. What a tragedy.

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I will miss the cookies. But I’m beginning to feel like I won’t miss the rest too much. After the last trip down to the car, I took a second to stand in the room I’d cooked in, slept in, worked in, lived a life in — and I wondered how I’d managed not to lose my mind. Or not completely, anyway.

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After a day and a half in Maine, it’s so obvious that I’d been living half a life, in NYC.

I’m taking a few weeks to detox from the city. The CITY-city. Because my parents are awesome, and because I’d take a skylight over a skyscraper, any day.

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Being here is like turning a full 180 degrees. The shift is enormous. It’s almost like I have a residual headache, from NYC. I wake up with my heart pounding. It’s so quiet that I can hear it, thudding away. I’ve been so over stimulated. Unbelievably over stimulated.

I’m having a hard time shaking the extremely-over-caffeinated feeling. I positively catapulted my way through unpacking. Even dove into the re-packing process, a little early. I hurled myself into all of the things you do when you come home, for the first time in a long time. Doctor, dentist, haircut, laundry (because FREE!).

But Maine is already starting to work its magic. The overwhelming pressure to succeed, to meet someone, to starve myself skinny — I can feel it starting to fade away.

There is only the pressure I put on myself. The pressure I’m trying desperately hard to lift. The pressure that comes crashing down every single time someone asks me so, what’s next?

What’s next? Um, how about remembering how to drive. And how to talk this much. My talking-to-people stamina is startlingly low, even with all the friend-dating that went on in the last few months. Here is something that never changes: when my mom and I get together, we can’t get the stories out fast enough. Scoops of ice cream turn into soup, whenever I sit with her.

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My mind is still on overdrive. I know I need to go back to therapy — really deal with this anxiety thing. It crippled me in college and it’ll kill me professionally, if I let it. It’s driving whatever disordered eating I still have, and I’m fully aware that it’s going to follow me wherever I end up — whether it’s this Portland or that Portland.

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I’m anxious about so many things. I’m so afraid to fail. I’m supposed to working on something called a chapter, and yet here I am, writing yet another post. I’m afraid of losing my home base, when my parents divorce. I’m afraid of starting to sob, in the middle of a coffee shop.

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I’m afraid — really afraid — of choosing the wrong place. How do you know, where to go? I’m afraid of running out of chances, to figure it out. I’m afraid that I’m not cut out for a corporate job — that what I really want, I can’t have.

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I’m afraid that I’m never going to connect with anyone. That I can’t, except on here. That I’m emotionally stilted — in some kind of horrible, irreparable way — and that I’m destined to keep on dressing like a 40-year-old J.Crew mom. That I won’t be able to stop emanating not available, not now or ever vibes. Maybe I want my vibes to change.

Maybe it’s time for that. You know — I do think I feel kind of ready, for that. We’re going to need to pause for a moment of panic. Just for a second. 

I think we’d better have another scoop of ice cream at the ready. What do you think about that?

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