Go home

TWhole Foodsoday, as I left Whole Foods (yep, with my tofu and quinoa salads), I got a little teary. My kind of teary, that is …

The store on Columbus had a sign above their exit: “See you again soon, neighbor” or something similar. And it struck me that this is my neighbourhood. This is where I live. It might not be forever, and it might not even be for long – but for now, this is my home. For now, I am exactly where I am supposed to be – in a neighbourhood and a town where even grocery shopping at an over-regulated, over-priced supermarket feels like a grand adventure.

New York makes me happy in the smallest, and most significant ways.

A lot is made of following your dreams. But I think it’s more about following your instinct. Dreams suggest something tangible to reach for, something to achieve. Following your instinct, on the other hand, means listening to yourself. It means paying attention to who you are, and what makes you happy, no matter the scale of your “achievements”.

Are you happy? Are you where you want to be? Is this your neighbourhood, or is there some other place, some other person – somewhere – that you sense is home, even if it feels too far away right now?

I say follow your instinct. Find your home. Go home. It’s easier than you think really, because changing your life is just as hard as you’d imagine, too. Which kind of prepares you for the darker moments – and makes you so happy when the sun comes out. It gives you such clarity around what you’ve got to be grateful for.

I’m grateful. I’m happy. I love my new neighbourhood.

And I’m home.

brick-wall

Not what I imagined

Jane

So this is what it is like to be dead. It is not what I imagined. Though imaginings seem very limited now, the things one can dream and feel when we are alive. Now that I am dead.

I am dead.

What a strange distinction. Between me before, and me now. Before I was one thing only – I was alive, I was breathing and pumping blood around my body, into my limbs, and all through me. Now I have no blood and no body. No fingers to wriggle, and no toes to curl under. I am just air now. I am what I used to breathe in. Only, it isn’t just. There is no containment. I am air and I am everything. If I think of something – say a wave crashing, then I am that wave, I am the pulling back, the curve and swell, and the pounding against the ocean floor. Then, if I am reminded of fish in the whitewash, I am suddenly the slippery, silver tail, I am the rushing school of gill and scale.

I only have to think it, and I become it. Not just feel it, but I am it. Anything and everything that exists.

Except me. I don’t exist anymore, and I cannot feel me. That girl, the one they call Jane. They still don’t know my name. And I, too, have forgotten. I don’t know who I was, what I had. When I think of me instead of oceans or fish, it suddenly goes black. I am dark matter, a rent in the fabric of the universe. Easier to be the wave, and the darting fish, flying.

But still I wonder, in the spiraling – who was she? Where did she come from and where did she go? When he did those things to her. When she died at his hands.

I am dead. This is what it is like to be dead. Imagining never once came close to this.

Wave

Very, very early character drafting for “Into the After”. As usual it has gone in a different direction than where I first pointed my pen. The body keeps the score – I keep thinking of this saying, and now I have met Jane, who is everything but herself, who can inhabit every thing that exists, but her own body. So many metaphors. Now to the hard part …

One memory from my sleeping

When the blues come, a cello plays under my skin. A mournful dirge that sinks me into melancholy, pulling me in and under my someone. And somethings.

I know all about sirens and their rocks, I know about the luring. It could be so easy to listen to that music on repeat, to follow where it leads. Deep and down into the caves of my subconscious, where all the words are hiding.

Where I smash against my fatal shore, and I am one memory from my sleeping.

I can cross oceans, I can follow the curve of the moon, and blink under building lights that shame the stars. But when the blues sing me through the night, I am back at my beginning again.

And you are still there, waiting.

On the Rocks

Sleepless in New York …

Verge

My body and the clocks say different things.

Last night I poured my vodka down the sink and fell asleep on the bathroom floor. I fall deepest when the sun comes up, and wake disoriented from my morning travels. Everything is the wrong way round here, or I am. So much corner turning, so much emerging from below, and it creates a kind of alert exhaustion, an expectation that something is about to happen today if I just get up and in it.

It all feels so possible, so utterly and entirely possible, this living on the brink.

“I did not belong there,” Joan Didion said of this city. And I recognise her words, because I know I do not belong here either. I do not know the rhythm and the rules. I am a step out of time, backwards dancing across these cracked pavements and sticky stairwells.

And like Joan Didion, I am in love. I am in love with this grimy, swollen, stinking city. With her teeming masses, and the bare-bone trees of winter, waiting.

They are anonymous, quiet like me.

And I too am on the verge of blooming.

Eleanor Statue in Riverside Park

New York, New York. 

We’re still here

I don’t know if there are other lives.

I don’t know if you and I exist in any other place and time – if the world is ours, or if we can only go so far in this together.

I don’t know if we exist outside of place and time. If the other you and other me are just ahead, and watching. Turning back – or catching up – or only ever passing, while our fleeting touch reminds.

(That it is still you and me. The better us. The only us.)

I don’t know if there are other lives.

But when I close my eyes, we’re still here. And this is just our waiting.

Beautiful Mess