My sister and her boyfriend had a trip planned up from Memphis to visit my family in Massachusetts a few weeks ago - it was the boyfriend's first trip up north, and Danielle's first since Christmas, so I decided to piggyback on their vacation and head home myself to meet up with them, my other two siblings, my grandfather and my parents. For those of you playing at home, that adds up to eight people, one bathroom and a dog. I almost titled this post How to Lose Your Mind in 10 Days, but I'm trying to grow as a person. Really.
We spent the majority of the week bar hopping with my dad, in true Collette style - interrupted only by a huge graduation party for my little brother (who's off to college in the fall) where, as you can imagine, I was peppered by standard life-affirming questions from a few choice family members I hadn't seen in a very long time.
"So, what are you doing with your life? Have you nabbed yourself a boyfriend yet? You work too hard, you should make more time for yourself. Wait, you're still in the same job?"
*clears throat, stands on table*
Friends, family, random teenagers, lend me your ear. I am doing nothing with my life other than sleeping, eating and working at the same job I have held for the last 4 years. This would bother me more, but said job pays for my crippling burrito habit, and burritos are delicious. I have not yet acquired a suitable man piece, though I continue to eat pineapple in the hopes that Madoo was right and it will help me attract one of these rare creatures. Until then, I am happy with my burritos. I will now take questions.
If only, Internet. If only.
So by midweek, we were all a little ready for a change of venue and decided to take Chris (the boyfriend) down to NYC for the day. He'd never been, and I love that damn city, so while a 3 hour drive each way for a day trip seems excessive, none of us seemed to care. We happily (okay, hot, sweaty and only a little grumpily) made our way through a handful of the big tourist spots - Times Square, down past Bryant Park and up by Radio City and 30 Rock, and finally to Central Park.
Like I said, I love that damn city. Even crowded with tourists and the 5pm rush, I found myself wishing I could just walk a few blocks back to a tiny, barely livable apartment - my tiny, barely livable apartment - and watch it all go by from the window. My kind of city is once you can get lost in, swept into a current of people up and down streets that pulse with life every hour of the day. And yes, fine, probably lots of hobo piss and stray cats but whatever.
The problem is, I can get wanderlust for just about anywhere I visit. I have a terrible habit of, when traveling, spending too much time imagining watching these cities from a window - weaving myself into the fabric of every day life in Dallas, or Philly, or Atlanta. It's SO HARD for me to see anything but the fairytale - to realize that every place is magical when it's new, but that eventually, the ordinary prevails. The daily grind turns life back into a pumpkin, and just like I am now in LA, you get tired of remembering how great a place can be. They all start to feel a little like the same. Or, maybe that's just me.
So when I felt that familiar light go on behind my eyes, I let it linger for a while before firmly hitting the off-switch.
The next day's stop took us into Boston, which is/was my neck of the woods. I don't know who was into it more, me or Danielle and Chris, but I gave them the best behind the scenes tour of the city I could possibly muster - the best nachos in Boston (Sunset Cantina, duh), plenty of beers around Fenway, and a walking tour through Copley Square down to the Commons. My city, they kept calling it. My city.
Boston used to be magical, too - the brownstones with their snaking vines, the fact that the Citgo sign would blink every time the Sox hit a homer at Fenway, the calm of the harbor when I needed to sit somewhere and read. But, life and school and work turned it all back into the everyday - to a place I remember so vividly wanting to get away from after college. I had done my time, I thought then, and I wanted to run. To find who I wanted to be in that sparkling magic of a new city. And now, 5 years later, I was standing in the middle of it a different person, sure, but one who almost wished she had never left. Almost.
I came back to LA far more hesitantly than I ever had before. I've never hated this city - though to be sure, it's magic has never been what I imagined it would be - but now I find myself resenting it. Resenting the allure, the promise that all I needed to do was to get out, to jump, to get on that plane and never look back. And yeah, I found a job and good friends and a little life to settle into. I should be ecstatic about that - happy to have made it, to be surviving out on my own. But still, it all hangs just a little awkward on my frame. Like maybe I found someone, but she's not exactly who I wanted her to be.
So I'm back to trying to find the magic in this place. Or, at least, magic in places other than Mexican food and bars on the beach. Maybe it's still there. Maybe I just missed it.
But for now, I'm turning the switch back on - letting the lights of the Empire State Building twinkle just out of my peripheral vision. Just in case.
Yeah. Just in case.