I write words for a living. It is my job to convey a message in the clearest, most concise way without fluff or redundancy or wasted characters. We’re living during a time of teeny tiny attention spans, when a whole lotta people can’t be bothered to read beyond a headline or a status update or click continue reading.
I want to bury my head under my pillow and hide from the world. In fact I’ve done just that, for the past two days, in addition to spending quality time on my bathroom floor with my head in the toilet. In between moments of real despair like I’ve never felt before, I held my daughter and squeezed her chubby thighs and reveled in the fact of how much they look like mine and lost myself in her two-toothed giggle a time or two.
I am shocked about how much this election physically and emotionally shook me.
As the hostage situation enters its third month, I woke up this morning feeling like my brain has finally caught up to reality. We brought a baby home a few hours before the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve 2015, which is the last moment I can clearly recall before slipping into a fugue state known as “bringing a baby home from the hospital.” (Seriously – they just let you leave with it. After months and months of monitoring and appointments and testing. You just walk right on out. Into the cold winter. Where your car is double parked in the fire lane.) My complete loss of identity and the inability to recognize myself was temporary and newborn-induced. Thankfully, the fog has lifted, I once again remember my own name, and parenthood doesn’t seem as overwhelming and terrifying as it did those first few weeks when David and I were in Survival Mode, living in 15-minute chunks, just trying to get to the next hour.
1. A 70-ish white man wearing gym clothes. Reading the Wall Street Journal. Squash racket at his feet, between a pair of giant white generic brand health sneakers (Velcro®).
2. Two sleeping homeless people. Stuffed Duane Reade shopping bags nearby. Eyes and ears covered. Gender, age, and race unidentifiable.
3. A 30-ish Latino man wearing a baseball cap with NYC written in cursive. Carrying nothing but a large plastic bag of freshly cut lilies (flowers still closed).
4. A beautiful adult black woman. Age anywhere from 30 to 65. Silently reading a worn Bible while moving her lips.
5. A youngish, bleary-eyed white woman. Looks like hell, possibly suffering from extreme jet lag. Looking around the nearly empty train car. Writing down a list of something in her journal. Perhaps a staring problem. Gets up flustered and scoots off the train. Appears to have missed her stop. 4:21am.
It’s 3am and I’m wide awake – I just returned from the Philippines and this jet lag is no joke. I was lying in bed reading NBA scores on my phone and thinking about how cool it is that an entire chain of 7,000+ islands on the other side of the planet is utterly obsessed with American basketball. Seriously, it’s everywhere – NBA TV is playing on every single television at every single airport in the Philippines. I watched a 1995 playoff game between Indiana and New York while waiting for a connecting flight, and you would’ve thought it was a live game by the number of people surrounding the television. Besides the basketball thing, here are 10 other random thoughts from a trip of a lifetime:
My first grade teacher sat down beside me in the church pew, gave me a big hug filled with more than two decades of love and said, “Merry Christmas! It’s so good to have you home for a few days and back at church! Sooo…is there a special someone? When are you getting married? You know, time’s running out if you want to start a family…”
If an air conditioner falls out of a 10th floor window and hits me on the head, like I’ve expected for years now, or if I get distracted looking at John Legend’s Instagram feed and step in front of a bus outside my job on Lexington Avenue: before that happens I really need to figure out who can log into my Gmail and delete all of the 70+ items in the Draft folder. He or she also needs quick access to a) the Notes app on my iPhone and b) a half dozen partially written journals scattered around my apartment. A full scale purge would be in order. Because I write a lot of dumb shit.
(author’s note: this is a word-for-word email I typed to my friends after an awful night. footnotes added after 5 long years of soul-searching and self-reflection. please disregard inappropriate language and content. but this is what decision-making at 27 looks like.)
From: Jessica Scott <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 3:30 PM
Subject: listen to this shit
To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>
I saw the tall man in the suit walking towards me from 100 yards away. He was handsome and fit with an edge of intimidating sexiness in that older man, I’ve-got-my-life-totally-together-and-you-don’t kind of way. His eyes were locked on me as he navigated through the crowd of Christmas shoppers grabbing for the cheap stocking stuffers that were arranged near the entrance of the store. I wiped down the counter and arranged the paper cups in a neatly stacked row while I waited for him to reach the counter and place his coffee order. Which would most likely be for a caramel macchiato or maybe a peppermint latte if he was feeling frisky. I’d worked at Starbucks for more than a year – I could sniff out a customer’s order with just one glance.
I’m sitting on my stoop and I’ve got a large iced coffee with milk, a biscotti and The New York Times. My Sunday morning ritual. By far, it’s the part of my week I look forward to the most. The birds are chirping, the kids are playing, the sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze blowing through my ponytail. I’m feeling my heart swell with the goodness and gratitude that only comes in this magnitude on quiet Sunday mornings.