It barely snowed that winter, but that somehow made everything seem worse. Now it was the beginning of Spring, and it got a little bit warmer every day. Earlier that week, my landlord came in and showed me how to open our windows from the top down. This created a cross-breeze and kept the noise from coming in from the street, he told me.
Continue reading “Notes from Soho”
“…I was looking at pictures of Greta Garbo, those tough dreamy images of her striding around the city in men’s shoes and a man’s trench coat, taking no shit from anyone, out solely for herself. In Grand Hotel, Garbo said she wanted to be alone, that famous line, but what the real Miss Garbo desired was to be left alone, a very different thing: as in unbothered, unwatched, unharried. What she longed for was privacy, the experience of drifting unobserved…Garbo lived in an apartment in the Campanile building of East 54th Street….Every day she went on two walks: long meandering strolls that might take her up to the Museum of Modern Art of the Waldorf…Often she went all the way to Washington Square and back, a loop of six miles, stopping to gaze in the windows of bookstores and delis, walking aimlessly, walking not as a means but as an end, an ideal occupation in and of itself.”– Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
“The lyrics were great, but did not correspond to what I had expected. I wasn’t particularly happy to sing them. This is when I realized Serge didn’t have anything more to say about me – or rather, never had. He didn’t know me, in fact, only projected his own fantasies through me.” France Gall, as quoted in Yé-Yé Girls of ’60s French Pop by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe
“We feel something, and reach out for the nearest phrase or hum with which to communicate, but which fails to justice to what has induced us to do so. We hear Beethoven’s Ninth and hum poum, poum, poum, we see the pyramids at Giza and go, ‘That’s nice.’ These sounds are asked to account for an experience, but their poverty prevents either us or our interlocuters from really understanding what we have lived through. We stay on the outside of our impressions, as if starting at them through a frosted window, superficially related to them, yet estranged from whatever has eluded casual definition.” How Proust Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton
After I decided to move back home to Massachusetts, I flew back to Seattle for a week and a half to pack up everything I owned in boxes to ship to my parents’ house and visit my friend in Vancouver for her birthday. Boxes packed and shipped in two days, somehow, I spent the rest of the time sleeping on an air mattress in my empty apartment, going out to eat for every meal (because I didn’t have dishes anymore) and reading The Marriage Plot in various coffee shops. I was enjoying Seattle, and a part of me wished that I could come back and do it all again. A city is a place of visceral indulgence when you’re totally alone: a dreamscape, entering as a stranger. Continue reading “A Day With A Stranger: Seattle”
“A moment of intolerable pain hearing that Gonzalo in Paris has cancer of the throat…Then came a day of quiet acceptance, which comes from the knowledge of all our dooms, illnesses, and deaths. The intensely personal image of his death is finally dissolved by time and thrown back into some universal ocean where all our pains and deaths are one. We do not die individually but in each of these fragments of the death of those we love. There are days when I count the dead, like a ritual of black magic, as if calling up names and not being too certain mine is not among them…I thought aging meant the loss of sensibilities, of vibrations, but I feel more intensely alive than ever. Music pours freely through me, the music by which I know the extent of my receptivity and response. I thought that while parting from the dead or dying or the sick, one parts with fragments of one’s own life. I thought so many deaths would create little cemeteries in me, but I am bless with continuous aliveness, as if on the contrary, I am to be their preserver.” Anaïs Nin, Diary, Volume Six
“Reading David’s diaries was like coming up for air after being a long time underwater. There is no substitute for touch, no substitute for love, but reading about someone else’s commitment to discovering and admitting their desires was so deeply moving that I sometimes found I was physically shaking as I read. That winter, the piers took on a life of their own in my mind. I pored over all the accounts I could find, fascinated by the spaces, the recklessness of encounter, the freedom and creativity they permitted. They seemed like an ideal world for someone who was struggling with connection, in that they combined the possibilities of privacy, anonymity and personal expression with the ability to reach out, to find a body, to be touched, to have your doings seen.” Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
“I remembered the wretched (pink) buildings in the background; it is hard to say whether they are still being built or already falling into ruins. I remember primitive suburban houses, their roofs so low I can look down on them from the bus. I also remember mended stretches of tarmac, black water containers, antennae, tangles of cables. I remember a tiny garden cafe with dusty chains of colored lights. I still vividly remember the palm tree at the side of the road, a gray and also dusty thing managing, somehow, to live in ground that is as hard as concrete.” Eugen Ruge, Cabo de Gata
I flew back from Paris in a blizzard and started the spring semester of my junior year of college the next day. I arrived to class in a a dress I bought at the friperie by Hôtel De Ville under a big fur coat that my mom had given me. She had bought it secondhand in the ‘80s and weighed twenty five pounds. It was a deep burgundy, nearly the same color as my hair. I had always been too shy to wear it, but now I had the confidence of someone who had been abroad, and the pleasure of being considered an upperclassmen.
My mom took me to Big Y and they had a new cafe area where you could buy donuts and coffee, so I got a cup of Green Mountain French Roast and drank it in the parking lot while I waited for her. It was so quiet outside; the cold air nipped my ears in a refreshing way, and I looked across the road to the abandoned fairgrounds and the mountains catching afternoon sunlight in amber and yellow streaks and was taken aback.
Continue reading “Romanticism Comes Of Age”
Written October 2015
I always feel better when I’m on this train, watching the trees and the fields flash by my window. It takes me out of anything I was obsessing over, and I get lost daydreaming about where I’m going to – most of the time, it’s to my parent’s house and my dog and the gigantic mahogany bed my Grandma gave me that I sleep the deepest in. I was thinking of buying a Metro North pass and spending this winter working at the restaurant then go home every three weeks or so to write and read a lot and watch a lot of TV with my mom.
The city can be kind of lonely and restless when you are trying to figure job and money things out. Last fall, I moved away from Seattle and spent a season doing nothing in my parent’s house. I vaguely miss that luxurious laziness of when my whole life was just getting dressed and made up, and going to go drink and eat and spend the day smoking rollies outside in nature. I caught up with old friends and walked on a frozen lake for the first time. I felt lovesick the entire time. It wasn’t a real life because I wasn’t doing anything, or moving forward. I was cradled monotonously in an interim between moves that lasted entirely too long. It kind of felt like I was putting on a play. That was part of the fun of it, I think. When I moved to New York, everything moved very quickly and fell into place into some semblance of an adult life. I would never go back to that lazy interim, though, and my life is so much better than it was then. But sometimes I have to go back home, when I am homesick in an unidentifiable way, just to remind myself that my real life isn’t there.
I was fifteen and I spent my birthday weekend with my aunt in New York City, and she took me shopping all day in Williamsburg. It would be too hot to walk, too dry to breathe and too bright to see. Everything was quick and colorful. I would be delighted by everything I saw: girls in short shorts and Rebook’s, people in love, whispered arguments, street art, rack sales, music drifting out of someone’s car. I was totally outside this life, looking in. Whenever this invisible schism would break and someone from this outside community would interact with me – a friendly barista, a salesgirl, a street performer, it felt like some forbidden recognition. I just wanted to be an adult, part of this world. My aunt and I would amass more and more shopping bags, a delightful indulgent weight, and so we’d duck into discovered coffee shops for the AC and gradually come to life with iced coffee in a corner somewhere, liberated in our exhaustion. Alive with pain, and moved by joy. I am reminded of this sometimes on hot summer days in New York, of which there are many. I am still thankful for the outside noise, it becomes such an immediate distraction from whatever thing I was spending too much time thinking about. It takes me out of myself, even for a moment.