I'm sitting on a windowsill in my Brooklyn apartment, waiting to snatch any semblance of breeze that might be passing by my muggy sauna of a home. David is playing guitar on the couch. I've positioned our only fan right in front of him because... 1. I love him. 2. I want him to keep singing that song he wrote about me the summer that we fell in love and lived out of a van. 3. I don't think he could curl his body up onto a windowsill the way I have.
New York City is in the midst of its first heat wave of the summer and we have no air conditioning in our top floor apartment, because apparently we are a couple of stubborn masochists. We did this exact thing in our top floor studio in Portland last summer, when that little city experienced a record-breaking two weeks of temperatures in the 100's. Will we ever learn?
Today we had a heat advisory, air quality alert, and flash flood watch all at the same time. Baffling. And so we confined ourselves to our apartment, sitting in puddles of sweat at our dining room table, reading the horrific affairs of the world right now. Maybe it was the oppressive heat combined with existential discontent, but something suddenly came over me.
I haven't written like this, not here, in years. When I met David and stopped traveling for a while, I went through a lifestyle transition that I wasn't able to deal with very gracefully. I wasn't sure what value I could provide in this traditional consumerist society. What is my identity, if not a nomad with a backpack? Who am I if I take away my own freedom to leave all these things and jump on a plane? What is my purpose now? Do I try and use the degree I put myself into debt for? Is it even possible?
So after working many different retail and restaurant jobs in Portland, and then experiencing my first full-fledged panic attack on the corner of 16th and Lovejoy with the highway roaring overhead, I decided to try something else.
I quit my miserable jobs amidst the very real fear that we would not be able to afford our increasing rent and applied for an editorial internship at my dream magazine---the one I had been eyeing while I got my degree in Florida. I didn't think I would be chosen for the position, but I was.
But unfortunately, it was all wrong. The structure of the business, the intention of the content, the $2 an hour pay. Not to mention, David and I were itching to leave Portland. So I walked away from an opportunity that could've launched the career I'd been hoping for my whole life...
We dropped everything and risked a lot to go out in search of a truth we didn't know the shape of.
We traveled to the islands, and then to visit family, and then to live on a farm. And then found ourselves on a train headed for New York City.
Since that failed internship in Portland, I decided to take a step away from writing to re-evaluate what role it should be playing in my life. Do I want it to be a career? A means to an end or just creative expression? Should I even share it? Does that convolute the intention? So I stopped writing here, and stopped altogether for a while, before buying a journal and practicing being me again.
Moving to New York is one of the best spontaneous decisions I've ever made. We came here with very little money, not even sure we'd want to stay. But the amount of life I get to experience on a daily basis in these little spaces, it's unlike anything else in the world. NYC is the laboratory of modern life.
Yesterday, David and I were walking through the Lower East Side when we saw a man fall head-first onto the sidewalk and have a seizure. David called 911 for first time in his life while the man thrashed about, eyes rolling back and foaming at the mouth. We didn't know what else to do.
Two young hispanic guys were suddenly there, tending to him. They knew to roll him on his side and support his head. We stayed until the ambulance came, for our own peace of mind.
For the rest of the day we walked around lower manhattan in a sweaty stupor. We had each witnessed a seizure once before, as kids in school. But something about right then in front of us, his head smacking the pavement, his bloody elbows and blue lips... it reminded us how fucking fragile we all are. How crazy life is. How lucky we are. To be healthy humans. To be young, educated people born into lower-to-middle-class families in a very privileged country. To live in this incredibly inspiring city right now.
I left that experience and these insane couple weeks of humanity, with an overwhelming urge to fucking DO something. To make something of this short, weird, senseless life of ours.
I feel a responsibility, as an able-bodied human being, to do everything in my power to live my truth. To make some sort of positive impact. To not just be a cog in the machinery of modern culture. I am not here to ride the subway in silence. I am not here to polish silverware. I believe I'm here to make noise.
And so I'm writing in this moment, doing something I thought I had abandoned, and felt guilt for abandoning. Just because I feel more like myself when I'm doing it. And because I feel a little lighter and happier and less stressed when I'm being more myself. And maybe that's what the world needs more of right now.