A friend asked if I could get together today, and I can't, because I'm still catching up on work, but said I could tomorrow, if she could pick me up. There's a glaring difference between my home in New York and my/my boyfriend's home in New Jersey, and it's not just that there's no coffeeshop or 24-hour deli or movie theater or hotel in his town. Where I live, life is happening all around me--on the street, below the ground. There are people spilling out of subways and buses and cars and restaurants; at most hours of the day or night you can hear people talking. I can hear the next subway stop announcements from my bed if the windows are open and I listen closely.
It's not like that here, and the biggest difference for me is mobility. I once knew how to drive, barely, but that was many years ago. I haven't driven a car in probably 15 years, and don't plan to again, at least, not in the tri-state area. Maybe on some wide sunny open road somewhere without other cars, but even that scares me. So when I'm here, I'm here. I don't make plans to go places. I don't spontaneously meet anyone for coffee. I'm hoping to seek out a place to get a manicure/pedicure. From my home, I can hop on a subway and then a bus to Philadelphia or Washington, DC, as I've done this year, or a plane to anywhere in the world. The New Jersey transit train I take to get to here passes by Newark International Airport, but that's about it.
My life here is about home, about this home that we are cobbling together, day by day, so that now, versus when I first came here, it feels a bit more like me. Yesterday, my boyfriend was sitting at the dining room table, which I've commandeered as my desk, while I watched him from the couch. I could tell he was itching to straighten everything I'd strewn across the wooden surface, and he did. He lined up the empty boxes I'd left there in order, placed my three seltzer bottles next to each other. I was impressed he left my laptop case and iPhone charger and Hello Kitty gratitude journal and little sticky notes in their own haphazard placement.
I used to feel trapped here, precisely because I had to decide in advance how long I'd be here. I wasn't free to come and go and that went against every ounce of New Yorker in me. Being able to create my day however I want was the consolation prize of freelancing when I got laid off and is still part of what I treasure most about New York; not only the time, but the abundance of choices of how to use that time. Slowly, though, I've come to like the homey aspects of this life. I like that with fewer options, I do actually spend more hours in front of my laptop, hopefully generating income. I get to be here when he comes home, and we can have a whole weeknight together. I cannot imagine what this relationship would have been like had I been working at my old job, but there's no way it would have been as rich and fulfilling because we would have had only a fraction of the time we get together.
Lsat night I'd planned to go see graphic memoirists Ellen Forney, whose new book Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me is excellent, and just hit the New York Times bestseller list, and Julia Wertz, author of The Infinite Wait, which I bought at an indie comic shop in my neighborhood, at the Strand, one of those amazing New York institutions that inspires me every time I walk in its door. But when we got back from New Haven on Sunday I realized I didn't have the energy or desire to go all the way back home and spend Monday zipping around New York, only to come back Tuesday night. I wanted the quiet and the time and the simplicity. It's a balancing act, and I keep being seduced by all these tempting travel offers (there is an amazing $382 Hawaiian Air roundtrip from JFK to Honolulu, but the December dates are extremely restricted). 2013 feels like it's practically already here; I have no idea exactly how I will fly there because something about paying double what I could pay to go to Honolulu to go to London seems wrong, but I am officially part of Eroticon 2013.
Right now, though, I'm focused on today's stories; I'm trying to narrow down my lists so I don't get depressed and overwhelmed. I'm on Day 2 of Gabrielle Bernstein's 40-day guide May Cause Miracles, and I'm supposed to be meditating on choosing love instead of fear. Sometimes that feels impossible. I know fear; it's comfortable, familiar, steady. Choosing love, which I had to do to get to a place where I don't wake up and miss the noise and chaos and transportation New York City has to offer, didn't happen overnight. But I can say for sure that the building blocks of our relationship, the little things that keep surprising me, they are more special to me than any reading or party or event or subway line. The amount of love and caring and commitment I've been given seems a little surreal after the last few years, and I catch myself thinking I in no way deserve it. Who knows? Maybe I don't, but I have it anyway, and all I can do is try to be worthy and give it back as best I can. Not at the expense of me, which is why I plan to shop for a town with a little more going on, somewhere I can find the equivalent of a Gimme Coffee, somewhere I can meet kindred spirits and walk to a train and raise a family.