Where’s The Map?

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There isn’t one. That’s the answer. The reality of this has been catching up with me lately in a way that it hasn’t for a while.
For the past several years, I have been completely at home and comfortable with the idea that all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and make decisions based on what you know and feel at that moment and time. With very little actual planning, I’ve watched my life unfold in ways I don’t think I could have conjured for myself. Through a combination of saying yes when opportunities presented themselves and having some vague idea of where I wanted to end up, my years twisted and turned, eventually bringing me to this moment in July, 2013.
I was recently talking with a friend about life, plans, and visions for the future, and I became acutely aware of how foggy my plans felt. The idea of a five year plan made my head want to explode, with one year not much better. Six months seemed barely manageable. Beyond just feeling unclear about where I saw myself, I actually felt uncomfortable trying to predict where I might be by then. One thing I did feel clear about was that the universe seemed to have bigger plans for me than anything I’d been able to imagine for myself and I didn’t want to get in the way.
This fogginess led me to wonder if there was ever a time that I remember seeing my future clearly. The answer was no. I have no memory of where, as a child, I pictured myself in my mid thirties.
And yet, somehow I have been able to manifest a beautiful life. I have a career, albeit a crazy one, that works for me on many levels, a newly renovated home, and friends and family who I adore. And I really couldn’t tell you how any of that came to be. It just did.
Without a map or an idea that A would lead to B and then to C, I’ve lived my life from some place in between faith and instinct. By staying present and making choices based on gut reactions, I find myself where I am. And, though I love the idea of an all knowing map, I’ll just have to trust that what I’ve been doing must be working.

Landing

It always takes a good crash to realize how high and ungrounded one is. A nice long nosedive back to earth.
My recent landing left me looking around, asking myself what I really want and how did I get so far from the things that I know help to bring me balance and happiness.
For the past few months, my method for living has been all about keeping busy and high, jumping from jobs to trips to plans for the future, anything to keep from really being present and looking at where I am right now. I knew somewhere in my gut that this was what I was doing, but didn’t care, happy to postpone the inevitable crash a bit longer.
Now, as I try to answer the question “what do I really want?”, the answer is the same as it always is. I want to be happy in a way that comes from within me, not dependent on outside circumstances and therefor not at the whim or able to be taken away by those either.
I’ve had glimpses of that happiness at times and there is a stillness that comes with it and an acceptance of what is, rather than what I think should be. And the times that I’ve experienced this feeling were always the same times that I was truly taking care of myself. Doing my stretches in the morning, meditating, eating well and cooking, exercising, and connecting with friends. These are all the exact things that I let lapse in my hyper, adrenaline infused quest to stay high, hoping the answers to all of my questions lay in the relationship, the job, the city, and so on, rather than in me.
I believe that all any of us truly want is to be happy but that it is too easy to look for that happiness everywhere but within. So, as I try to reset my internal compass and be truly present in my life, I will also try to be extra compassionate towards not only myself but others, realizing we are all on the same mission.

The Sleepover

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On my recent trip to New York, I stayed with a friend I’ve known since the 4th grade. Our friendship has survived junior high, college, family emergencies, boyfriends, and traveling together. Now, 25 years later, we come and go in each other’s lives, sometimes going long spells without talking, but always fitting like a puzzle piece back into our reserved spots.
Upon my arrival in NY she gave me an extra set of keys to her apartment and a blow up bed in her room. Most of my days were spent wandering either alone or with other friends, meeting with her after she got off work.
And I was reminded of how much I still love the once taken for granted sleepover. As a child it was a ritual built mostly around parent’s schedules and lack of one’s own transportation. Then, after everyone had a car, the sleepover became less necessary unless some form of curfew evasion was needed, in which case it remained quite useful! Now, as an adult, I find that I covet the extra time with friends that comes between brushing teeth and falling asleep or waking and drinking coffee. Inevitably we find ourselves saying good night and then laying in the dark, talking late into the night about the day and life. Or waking and combining our morning routines, letting each other in on the small rituals that are so easily glossed over on the phone or at dinner, but which make up such a large portion of our lives. I feel very fortunate to have had not only friends for so long, but ones who I can lie in the dark talking to, like back when we were ten.

Sandals in the Subway

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I just returned from a quick and delicious weekend in Manhattan and Brooklyn… Almost two years since my last visit, I was craving a quick jolt of the energy only that city can provide.
While packing I realized my normal season for visiting is autumn, and scarves, sweaters, and boots are all I want to wear there. But, instead I tried to pack for hot, humid, dirty urban, which meant black skirts, dark tanks, and the sturdiest sandals I own. Though sandals in the subway just seem wrong.
I spent my days wandering, eating, and drinking with friends, agenda and plan free. Some highlights included Bryant Park iced tea drinking discussions, Le Labo Tubereuse, donuts on the lower east side, great black squid ink pasta with king crab and lemon, and a quick walk on the Highline.
For the first two days, a cool breeze blew as the sun shone, with a sticky humidity holding off until Sunday. Though to my parched desert skin, even that felt great.
As a child, New York was the only city I wanted to live in. The anonymity it allows people appealed to me, along with its inherent attitude and style. But now, as I watch my friends navigate lives and careers in the city, I realize that for me, it may only ever be a place to visit, to read about, and to soak up, once a year.

Summer

It’s 102 outside…what to do?
I can’t remember the last time I was off in the summer, must have been before college, before summer jobs became the norm. Back when long, hot days stretched on for three empty months and my sister and I entertained ourselves with board games, books, and running through the sprinklers.
At some point in high school, summer restaurant jobs began, followed by year round restaurant jobs in college and summer break became about saving money rather than lounging in the heat. The past decade has been no different as producers love to shoot their movies in the summer, after the spring winds die down and the days are long. But, here I am, for the first time in over 15 years, with time to…
Check out the rodeo
Ride the Ferris wheel
Make gazpacho to eat outside with friends
Drink sangria
Take a road trip
Lie in a hammock
Read a pile of magazines
Read a pile of books
Write
And so on.

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