Thursday, July 7, 2011

I wonder what happened and I wonder what comes next.

The other day I was in my beloved New York. Something really got to me and made me think. There was a man on the subway. Mid-twenties maybe? 11:00 AM on a Tuesday. A large manila envelope on his lap, labeled "personal effects". He gingerly took several items out of the envelope and examined each one, turning it over and concentrating deeply upon it. A worn brown leather wallet. A red key chain that also had a bottle opener on one end. An older model Nokia cell phone. I forget what else. He wasn't crying per-se, but his eyes were puffy and there was this deep saddened expression on his face, and an extra dimple on his chin.

My lord. What a lump this created in my own throat.

I observe people often and I wonder what their stories could be. Was he going home from the hospital? Who died? How did it happen? Was it his father?

I miss the subway. It gives me so much to think about and so many chronicles to write about. So many snarky facebook updates about my fellow passengers. And I often play games on the subway. I might have blogged about this before, I can't remember. But what I like to do is pretend that everyone in the subway car is stranded together on an island, not dissimilar from LOST. Then I take each person and decide what role they will play. Who would be the "Jack", the doctor who takes charge and fixes everything? Who would be the whiner and complainer? Who would be the laid-back pot smoker who does his own thing? Who hooks up with whom? Who doesn't get along at all? Who tries to kill whom? A warped little fantasy world I live in......a lot more time to process between 125th street and 59th street when the train runs express.

Tonight I sit at the club house in my apartment building in North Carolina and type this blog. There is an older woman who is often here. She has greasy grey hair and large horn-rimmed glasses. Right now she is in front of the computer, but earlier she had been sitting in front of the television watching a Yankee game and making remarks at every play. It annoyed me. I have talked to her before. She is probably just a lonely woman, but she won't stop talking. Talking, talking, anyone who will listen. If I have come here with my mac book, it means I am here to do some work.

I tried to soften a little one day and listen to her stupid stories. Stories about getting new shoes and stories about how much muggier it was in Florida where she used to live, and stories about how she fell in her apartment. And every single other ailment she's got. Okay, Okay, okay. I can lend a sympathetic ear. It sucks to be sick or to fall or to be lonely...I'll try to listen a little and be a little bit kinder.

.....Until she told me that she needed someone to come over while she took a bath and make sure she didn't drown. Okay, Crazy. Line has been drawn. I'll listen to your ailments, but I will not come and watch you get naked and bathe.

So she still sits across from me, oblivious to my thoughts and I still type, type away. Lost in my own thoughts, drowning out whatever the heck it is that she is saying, and clicking away at my own keyboard.

This blog is really a stream of consciousness, because I didn't have an exact topic in mind. Just scattered thoughts that fill my head. I am going to Chicago later on tomorrow for my cousin's bachelorette party and I am anxious to get out of dodge. I have some other potential trips still planned. I think I mentioned Abu Dhabi and Qatar once before. Two of my friends and former colleagues have taken jobs there. The trip got postponed a bit, but I still intend to go. Another girlfriend is going to Ethiopia to adopt a child and has asked me to accompany her. I am flattered that she invited me and thrilled at the chance to go. And then there is another dear friend who is getting married in Peru next summer. So many extraordinary places to visit, occasions to celebrate, and friends with whom to spend time.

So where am I now? In limbo. That's where. My mind keeps changing about what I want to do and where I want to go. Some things have happened in North Carolina that make me want to book it back to New York as fast as my legs can possibly run. But then on the other hand, I have met some people in the past two months, who make me want to stay here and develop friendships, kinships, amorous flings, budding relationships, so on and so forth, and see what happens.

And then there is Chicago. I was there last month to visit some friends from grad school. More than ten years have passed, but it's as if we hadn't missed a beat. I never ever imagined how this tremendous wave of nostalgia would hit me, as it did. I walked around in the "loop" and sat on a bench in Grant Park, looking out to the crisp, sparkling blue Lake Michigan and enjoying the sunshine. Taking the "El" train even gave me the chills- it smells a certain way. Different from the subway in New York. I can't really explain the smell. Not unpleasant. Just kind of metallic maybe? Cleaner than the subway in New York. I spent a fair amount of time in Chicago years ago. In fact, I almost moved there instead of New York after finishing my masters degree. Visiting again made me wish I could live there. We'll see how I feel after my repeat visit this weekend.....

So my friends, I hope to have more writing to share with you. I have been missing my blogs and writing. I loved when I used to have funny stories at every turn that I could share with you. And warm inviting writing, writing that feels as comfortable and familiar as being invited to your best friend's home and smelling coffee brewing and banana bread baking.

......or.....just..... stories of dirty old ladies who want sponge baths.