Sunday, August 20, 2006

new york or no

"Where are you?" Rachel asks me.

Where I am is on the road, driving home from seeing Oliver Stone's 'World Trade Center' and crying so hard that I'm sniffing and sighing into the phone.

I knew this bout of emotion was on its way. I have been wound tight with frustration and ready to explode for the past few weeks. Until today I'd only discussed my troubled mind with my mother - to a weak extent.

"Maybe you shouldn't have gone to see that movie if you were already having a hard time," Rachel says.

It wasn't the film. Not really. I was crying during the previews. It wasn't watching as Stone recreated the day I still say changed my life...and woke me up to the fact that there was a world happening right in front of me - and not just in the books I would read. It wasn't that. It wasn't the reminder of the day itself and what it meant to so many people.

Nope. It was all the frames in between.

I could have waited another week to catch the movie. But I was missing New York, so I went to see it. It was the last few frames in particular - it was the skyline. Even enshrouded in smoke - it is more beautiful than anything I get to see around here.

"I know you want to go now," said Rachel. And she does. Rachel had been our bartender on Friday nights. Just another face with a name who made the best drinks in town. I had just gotten back from visiting my brother in Phoenix, an important trip - as it was the first one I'd made since quitting art school in Pittsburgh and coming back home and it was the first trip after my grandfather passed away and I had stuck myself into seclusion. It was my 'time to live again' trip. We were at the bar, I'd just gotten back and she said something, which I can't for the life of me remember what, but I snapped my head up at her and said, "You're not from around here, are you?"

"Hell no," she said. "Arizona."

We marveled over the coincidence. Later when I went up for another drink she pointed at the star hanging around my neck and then at the cross hanging around hers.

"Wanna trade?" she laughed. Later she'd tell me I was the first Jew she'd ever met.

She knows how badly I want to leave this town because she wants to also.

"You're just not in the right place right now," she tells me. "Sweetheart, you have to be okay with yourself or else it'll be just as bad if you go somewhere else."

"But I don't fit in here," I sobbed. "I never have. 26 years is a long time not to fit in."

"It is." she agreed.

I won't lie. It's been rough between the regular order of things and the expectations I hold myself to. "Don't do that," Rachel says as I continue to cry. "Don't hold yourself up to so high an's killing you when you fall back down."

Deadlines are hard when you can't work on them all day. Not being in a news room means I need to figure out the 'ins' and 'outs' of journalism on my own. There's not a minute I'm not working on a story. I feel like I don't know what I'm doing - and the load itself makes for a lot of anxiety of what might happen when classes start up again next week. I was offered the chance to pitch to a local magazine - another thing I'm not quite schooled on. Being unprepared - uninformed - it just doesn't work for a Type A personality - which Rachel called me for the first time today.

Neither does lack of routine. Which is just impossible for me to get a hold of when I work in the middle of the night. I miss my mornings. The smell of them. My walks and my coffee and my eggs. I hate waking to the knowledge that the world is already in full swing.

The not fitting in, is the hardest. "You need culture," my mom said. "You need things to be happening around you."

As I walked through Manhattan in April, 2001 - I'd never felt so comfortable. My hair was long and unmanageable, my clothes probably not in style - but it didn't matter - and nobody seemed to be taking much notice. I met an actor/writer who discussed a play I had written, a copy of which my aunt had given him - and it was the first time I'd talked about writing with anyone in any depth - much less a person of the opposite sex. Men who met me in bars or stores were kind, I didn't feel judged or afraid of them like I do here.

Right now, I am uncomfortable in my own skin. I can barely look me in the mirror. I know days like this fade away - but so it is. I'm desperate for a routine, for a regular diet of balanced meals again, for dinner at a regular hour. I'm aching for exercise and a tan. Jeans that aren't so tight.

A connection. A place to fit.

It was all coming to a head and I knew it. So like a woman who insists on stalking an ex-boyfriend, I went to see 'World Trade Center' and let it pull the cry right out of me. For an hour I cried to Rachel about everything in me that felt twisted and empty and lost. And though it's not nearly fixed just yet, it helped.

"You know," Rachel says after I've stopped crying...she has calmed me down and let me get it all out - and this is why I love her so much.

"I'm always here for you. New York or no."

Thank god for that.

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