As we taxied out to take off the lights that lined the airport rushed past my eyes. Blurred from tears that began to crowd my eyes. I remember squinting enough before completely closing my eyes and in doing so almost took myself back to the chair next to my sisters tree in her new home with her family. The colored lights, and their bright stockings and brightness of the chairs. I pinched my eyes as I saw it disappear in hopes that I could just bring it back if I wished it hard enough, and instead opened my eyes and the salt water ran down my face and my nose started to stuff-up and my eyes started to water more. Soon my whole body vibrated with the engines as the captain sped up and took us to flight. I placed my earbuds in my ear and went to the holiday playlist. I scrolled to something I could possibly fall asleep to, or at the very least stop-crying to. John Denver and The Muppets. And I closed my eyes and remembered dancing and singing in the Old Apartments, before my brothers were born. Our brothers, my sister stated perfectly once as “our little treasures.” And trying to take deep breaths I fast forwarded to The Old House on Rice Court. Listening to the same music play on the record player as we decorated the tree.
Amazing, what lights and music can do. Time machines in their own special way.
I hoped to fall asleep, but I was crying too much. Typically it wasn’t this difficult to leave when heading back to NYC. I was unable to identify what made it so much harder this time. Even the hug I gave my mom at the airport was different.
I want to make them all proud of me. How do I explain to them what they mean to me, and leave them behind at the same time?
I remember sitting with my mom and a glass of wine just the day before and trying to describe what it is I’m doing. I once said “I’m not just surviving life, anymore, I’m living it.” It’s different now. Again, different. I said something like this…
“I love you all, so much. But it’s not enough for me to be here and be daughter, sister and Auntie. I need more.”
Sure there’s beautiful weather at home, on the Central Coast in CA. I don’t like the beach, I don’t like to hike, or go to parks, or kayaking, or camping. There, I can’t hide if I want. There, I’m always somehow on display. Exposed and somehow settling for the simplicity of the same people and bars and bagels. Man, that sounds mean. I don’t intend it to. I adore my friends and love my family so much more than I think I express. I love them, and leave them behind because I’m looking for myself. I’m looking for that one click of time where I realize I’m exactly where I should be. I’m looking for more than the Central Coast has to offer, and I don’t know if NYC has all the answers but here…here I earn everything and I need that constant reminder. I need to be humbled. I need to stumble, and complain sometimes about how long my days are and that I do it all while carrying my life for the day on my back–literally. I need the ability to hide behind a hat and headphones, and sit quietly and remain undisturbed. I need to be able to go to a movie, or play, or a meal, and not engage in conversation with someone. Or feel the need to entertain them, or babysit them, or pay attention to them. I like to be alone sometimes–I don’t think I can do that on The Central Coast. It’s too small maybe. Or it’s full of so many memories that I stay complacent, reliving and repeating, and rehashing those times. Scared that any “new” memories will just be made in the shadows of old memories, or at the bare minimum live there in the shadows.
It’s not that you aren’t good enough. That “it’s” not good enough. Nor is it that I’m better than you, or home, or the combination of comfort you create for me. It’s something more, something else–I don’t know what but I’m trying to figure it out.
Seeing how people I care about are with their spouses and children, or significant others feeds pieces of me differently. In one scenario I become jealous and yearn for it. I wonder who I’d be with or where I’d be working and living if I was there. If I came back, or if I’d never left. Never left for NY or Los Angeles. Wondering only takes the scenarios so-far, though. But each time I end up sad. Sad I didn’t choose differently, sad that I’m sad… In another scenario I’m thankful for my freedom and amount of sleep I get because I don’t have children to care for or someone so significant in my life that we have a “schedule” together. I don’t have to buy more food, or share it. I don’t have to be held responsible for anyone else, but me. And I like that, for now–sometimes. Most of the time. I go back and forth… But it’s more It’s something else, and I don’t know what it is, but I’m looking for it.
In New York, I can entertain by going to “home bars” or being silly in class or at work. I can also hide–at the same places. I can go for walks and listen to music and make zero eye contact with people. When I walk and listen the people in front of me and around me become part of some kind of music video I’m playing in my head. I even move differently. Faster, slower–slow motion even. Yep. In New York, I can go see a show on Broadway–can’t do that at home on The Central Coast. Have to wait for the tours to come to the PAC or travel north or south a few hours. That means, gas and hotels and tickets. Here? I saw a broadway musical last week for $27. Then I swiped my train card and went home. Can’t do that anywhere else. In New York, if i don’t want to see the same person again–I won’t. I don’t have to, and there’s a huge chance that I never will.
Well, dating sucks anywhere–am I right? There are far more men in NY than back at home. This also changes the percentage of “good guys.” Most guys I’ve come across in NY want “the hookup.” It’s not even that it’s a game, it’s that they don’t want to commit. They don’t want the schedule and monogamy. And mostly, I get that. Mostly, I’m the same. At least right now I am. Lately I have been. I don’t want to be bothered. But I do, on the occasion, wish I had a man in my life that cared about me. Wanted to cuddle up next to me, listen to me on subjects that I actually hold an opinion on. Teach me something I don’t know, and not be condescending about it. I’d like him to open the door for me and let me loop my hand through his arm when we walk, and sometimes when we get home I’d like him to ravage me. <— probably difficult for my mom and aunts to read. heh. Thing is–it’s kind of one or the other. So mostly, I choose nothing. I choose to be alone and hide when I want to and be social and loud when I want to. I stick to a schedule–mostly, and break free of it when it becomes boring and tedious. I break free to remind myself I can, which also typically ends in me reminding myself I’m no longer in my twenties.
I do feel safe here, by the way. That may just be my up bringing and confidence. Even when people come across as harsh, possibly harmful…I know that I proceed with caution, but rarely do I experience fear. Sometimes I catch their eye and smile and it catches them off guard and softens them. And there is some kind of understanding that there is a miscommunication, or Sometimes I speak up, sometimes I walk away. Sometimes I have my earbuds in, but nothing is playing–I listen to what’s going on around me. Sometimes I give the homeless person money, sometimes I roll my eyes at them and complain to myself how badly they smell. Sometimes my heart aches because I am heading to my warm home, and they are gathering more cardboard to try to create a mattress or blanket of some sort. But I haven’t experienced fear here, and that’s good. It’s not good enough for my Auntie Barb, and it scares my mom, but there is nothing I can do about that…I can’t be just the daughter, sister and auntie. I need something more to feel alive, successful, important. Something–fill in the blanks
I have my places. My secrets. My reveals. I have my aches and feelings and struggles. I have my TV shows and phone and computer. I have my drinks and songs. I have acquaintances and exes. I have mistakes. Goals and wants. I have the same “things” here as I do home, I suppose. Except here, I feel closer to who I am supposed to be or who I will become. Here I’m not standing in the shadows of certain people back on The Central Coast. Here I’m not rehashing old times to the same people at the same places. Here, I’m becoming my own person. And it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done. I can’t explain why it has to be done here, or if this is where it will end. But this is where I want to be, have to be, and need to be to figure out what’s next.
To earn what’s next. It’s where I need to be to keep grounded and humble and happy yet not complacent.
How will ever be able to explain that to them? To my family. To my sister whom I love so very much as I hold her babies near me and hug them and smell them knowing my time with them is limited. How do I say my love for you is endless, yet place limits on the moments I prove it? How do I explain to my brothers I miss them and the comfort and safety I feel when I am simply in earshot of the sound of their voices? Or that just seeing them fills me with joy? How do I make my Dadda proud of me? Is he already? How do I stay his little girl, then get on a plane and flight thousands of miles away from him? How do I hug my mom and be happy AND sad to do so at the same time?
There are answers, somewhere. And being here is helping me find them, I truly believe that. If there was an easier way to do it, I don’t know that I would choose it…because it’s the difficulties that make me realize that love and happiness when it’s present. It’s the trials that I overcome that make me feel worthy of running into your arms, and not that I must prove myself to you for that worth, but I must prove myself–to myself to realize your arms are always opened.
I’m so grateful and thankful for family. I ache to not be with them. I would ache more if I didn’t show them my love for them, by becoming the person I want to be. The person I don’t know yet, but am finally willing to actively pursue.
I pinched my eyes closed again and felt my mouth quiver with sadness. I sniffled uncontrollably for a bit and eventually caught my breath. I let the tears roll down on their own until they stopped. My heart eventually stopped aching and returned to normal, or something similar. Time passed and I landed in San Francisco, ran to my connecting flight and got back to NY by 6am, and climbed back into my bed by 8:30a after texting my family I was home…safe. Then I slept and when I woke up I knew the coming year would be different. More so than I had planned.
More so than I could ever explain. But, by god, this time I would try to explain it. And in that, fear makes its first move.