A Life or a Living

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of showing the pretty parts. The picture-perfect days. You know, at the exclusion of everything else. Dull and dreary, you are not.

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You are on a cruise! You are tan! You are skinny — skinnier than you were this time last year! You are funny! You are clever! You are throwing a dinner party!

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Scrolling through my camera roll, it feels impossible that I ever managed to capture those moments. The Instagram-worthy ones, I mean. The ones sure to bring in more than three likes. (Mom, brother, other brother.)

And it’s sort of incredible — to see that there actually has been a second in full sun, in the last week. (It’s rained every single day, since I’ve been back home. I know I should be thinking about this as a good trial run, for the Pacific Northwest, but God, I don’t know if I can do it.)

Anyway. Southern Maine has been under a perpetual cloud for the last week, but you wouldn’t know that, would you? You wouldn’t know that because, if nothing else, I am an all-star filterer.

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Look. Look at them all! All photos you’d be tempted to forward to a friend. All potential postcards, all exclamation points. Wish you were here.

I do wish you were here. I’m lonely as hell.

I miss the friends I made in New York. I miss the fun of making new ones. I feel as hopeless here, now, as I did in the beginning, in Manhattan. And if I move out west, I’m going to feel the same way again. So alone.

I didn’t grow up in Maine, so I don’t have any high school friends to reconnect with. And I can’t count on a job — old or existing — to help me meet people, in this place, the way I always have before. I do have family, but even that is falling apart. I feel like I’m grasping at straws.

I know where the kids my age are — they’re in the Old Port. At the bars. (At the stroke of midnight.) I’m in the Old Port, too — but at the bakeries, at the coffee shops. At the crack of dawn.

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I’m happy when I’m writing — so there is that. Today I wrote for five hours straight (all for the book proposal), and decided I didn’t want to throw any of it out the window. (Or at least, not immediately!) Then my parents surprised me and stopped by for lunch. And it was so nice, to have some company.

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A stolen spoonful of asparagus-pea soup even managed to whisk all of my worries away, for a minute. And encouraged me to entertain, however briefly, the thought that this might be kind of perfect. This kind of life.

But how am I ever going to be able to have this kind of a life? Honestly. I have to make a living — not just a life I like. And I’m twenty-three now, not twenty-two: I have to take over my own bills. Every last one. (I’m in pre-mourning: have you already waved the words “family plan” goodbye? Maybe I could just get along without a cell phone. Probably not — I’d become even more of a hermit than I already am. Or maybe I could just downgrade. Downgrade, and deal with a not-smart phone. Without Instagram — the horror!!)

It would be cheaper. Cheaper would be good. If you want to know the truth, writing is actually currently costing me money. All those coffees, you know — they add up! But I love it. I love the way I seem to wake up with more words, every single day. Even if by two o’clock, I feel absolutely unable to write anymore. Unable to tap out anything longer than a text message. Anything I can grab for dinner?

I can work steadily throughout the morning, I’ve found, and then I start to lose my mind a little. I happen to really feel like I’m losing my mind, today. Have I completely lost it — to be thinking about moving clear across the country? With a job that is not a job at all? With little-to-no family? Without any existing friends?

Here’s what I think: it’s time for an easier question. How about a galette to go?

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