I was on the phone. It was a winter afternoon, already too dark too early, with wind whistling at the sliding glass doors and the heater refusing to warm the corners of my apartment. I was standing in the kitchen in pyjamas, leaning against the counter as I relayed my latest fuck-ups and annoyances to a friend. Somehow I’d spent the morning reading and dicking around online and drinking coffee in bed, dirty laundry shoved off to the side. The laundry wasn’t just on the bed, either. It had spread like a parasitic growth, creeping across the floor and onto the dining room chair, taking over the bathroom rug. Dishes were stacked up. I needed a shower.
Why do you want to run on your own? Let’s run together.
We first meet in early fall, hands in baggy hoodie pockets, sun glinting off free sunglasses advertising some real estate company. I like your laugh, your kindness humming in the background, your battery bunny energy. Your honesty as we sit at the top of a half-hill, half-mountain. My day has taken a turn, and the sunshine warms my bones.
When I first considered writing this blog post, I hesitated. The second and third time I considered it, I still hesitated. It’s not a funny post and it doesn’t really give you warm fuzzies. Actually, it’s a topic that tends to piss people off or make them feel like you’re including them in blanket statements. That’s not my intention. I’m talking about what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen in the world. That’s it.
Here’s the thing: when talking to guys, I’ve realized a lot of them have no idea what it means, in practical terms, to be a girl in a still-somewhat-sexist world in 2015. Since they don’t experience the other end of it, they don’t know how a lot of seemingly harmless actions come across. So I thought I’d share my own experience in a couple of areas.
Put a well-worn record on and throw a handful of worlds in the air. A solar system of softly gleaming marbles, they hang suspended, memories rippling across their surfaces. With each lazy spin, the taste of the past — a strum, an ocean, a tug at the heartstrings, a second — glints like Saturn’s rings.
I gorge on songs. They enter my consciousness accidentally, through a friend’s recommendation or the well-timed switch of a radio in a car, and then I consume them greedily, seeds and skin and all. They stain my fingers, leave stripes of purple and raspberry red on my tongue. I play them on repeat, learn their dips and valleys, hear the clicks and spikes. And then as accidentally as a song spins into my world, it leaves it — shaken off out of annoyance when its first few stanzas start to grate, or discarded when a new chorus catches my attention.
Today is a good day in New York: it’s blazing hot, I found a place with affordable coffee near my new place, and only once did I have to sidestep day-old vomit on the sidewalk. Success!
Maybe I should start again. In the few months that I’ve lived here, I surprised myself by coming to love New York — albeit in the complicated way that you love a best friend who is all sorts of awesome but goddamnit does he have to chew everything so noisily? — but I never actually expected to like it. You know how some people have those fantasies (read: delusions) about a place? That if they move to New York, they will instantly become Audrey Hepburn beautiful, develop a cast of Friends friends, and finally make it big?
It was my brother’s birthday yesterday, and in lieu of actually being in Toronto to celebrate with him, I wrote him a blog post instead. I also realize that as he hits 25, he might be hitting a quarter-life crisis — although let’s be realistic, with Eric’s track record of doing stupid things in the name of science or entertainment, there’s no way he’s making it to 100. (Actually, on one of Eric’s birthdays a couple years ago, my dad remarked, “I have no idea how you’ve made it this far, Eric. Really, I have no idea how I’ve made it this far.” Which sums up the Moller boys nicely.)
So I’ve decided to use Eric’s birthday as an opportunity to parrot back the most valuable wisdom he ever shared with me, for anyone who might be facing one of those quarter-life crisis moments.
Sometimes he’ll sit on a bus and turn it over in his mind, again and again, the corners of the memory faded and worn. The rain will be falling outside. He’ll flip the time in his hands and look for evidence of when things went astray.
He thought he’d never leave, and then he left.