Ever feel like you closed your eyes when you were 20 in 1996 and then you opened them in 2016 and you were feeling so very deeply all 40 of your years? Did your knees pop a clickety-clack melody as you literally creaked out of bed, thinking one really long thought about how the years have tenderized you, covered you in salt, and left you to marinate like a rare steak left out on the counter too long? Did you think about getting married for the nine hundredth time this week and do that thing where you scroll through disingenuous profile after profile of your dating app swiping away any desire to do much more than head home and eat popcorn and watch a fictionalized version of romance until you fell asleep? Did you ride the subway to work while feeling the sweat evaporate from your skin into the clogged air around you and struggle through squinted eyes to remember what it was about NYC you loved so much again? No? Anyone?
It's a Monday again here in aftersolonggirl-land. I got a lot accomplished this morning. Workwise, I've stuffed the afternoon into a large burlap sack and tied it around my ankle, dragging it behind me everywhere.
Normally I find myself out of the country during this time of year but this year I've had to push my badly needed vacation plans to the end of the month. In two weeks I'll be three or four Guinness deep, pondering different shades of green and what to call them all. I'm hoping Ireland is as it has been in my imagination ever since I first contemplated going there, when I was 15 and obsessed with the Dublin of The Commitments. (Unrelated: is it bad that I can't spell the word commitment correctly on the first try, ever? Is there something Freudian there? You tell me.) At the moment I'm contemplating what to pack and, like every chore that requires me to make choices about what to wear, I want someone else to decide perfectly what all I should bring. I'm easily distracted when a task like this is set before me and so I have been searching Instagram for #dublin to see what people are wearing in their photos. I apply very scientific methods to everything, even things that really don't need them.
I am really ready to be away though. It's been a minute since I've stretched time with a lot of distance. And for the past few months, I've wrapped my brain in the compression bandage of stress and I'm ready to release it now. I do have some residual anxiety about leaving my sickly cats home and having a catsitter tend to them, but honestly, I've made every precaution I possibly can and I have to learn to let go. I'm also ready to not spend any more mental or emotional energy on worry. I simply want to sleep late, and drink too much and see new things with my old eyes. I need the next two weeks to fly.
Yesterday I did get out of the city, a goal to be observed whenever possible on September 11. Lambden and Lorraine and myself went to the Jersey shore to say goodbye to summertime by dipping ourselves in the ocean and frozen custard. The waves were chopping and sectioning off the lines of bronze bodies who dared go in but it was the perfect temperature. In the hour just before getting in, I was bitten by 4.5 million demon flies and submerging in the water felt like a sizzle of comfort. I stupidly lost my sunglasses to a bullying wave and I feel terrible that I've polluted the ocean in such a stupid way. I hope the tide left them behind and someone who needed them was able to find them. I also had that brief few minutes of being convinced I was going to drown when I got separated from Nancy and was dragged a bit under by a series of aggressive swells. I was simultaneously tumbled backward and forward, swallowed a pony keg's worth of salty sea water, got a leg cramp and couldn't stop laughing. It was wild ride, I tell you. We followed our lovely afternoon at the beach eating seafood and laughing, staring at the endless sky and taking full advantage of having made the journey of 15 years together, mostly intact. To understand how good it felt, you would have had to have been there 15 years ago. Some of you were, so you get it. We passed a flag at half mast yesterday and I had to be reminded why it was at half mast. Here we all are, another year further away.
So, I'm in a holding pattern for two weeks. Things have stabilized for me and I'm cranking through the motions. Or I'm creaking through them. I'm stiffening up by degrees today. I'm sure getting blendered by the sea yesterday didn't help but, as though on cue, I feel physically older. Do I look different?