Houseboats

This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

It’s almost September. Just like that, all of the sudden. This summer was a blur, even though nothing really happened, and I continue to stumble forward towards whatever comes next.

I’ve been listening to “Frozen Love” on repeat, as loud as my headphones will go. Loud enough that it drowns out the sound of cabs honking at me as I jaywalk, loud enough to obscure the homeless men begging me for money I don’t have, loud enough to drown out my own thoughts.

You may not be as strong as me, and I may not care to teach you.

I go for a walk while everyone else eats lunch at their desks, desperate to get away from a 22-inch screen and fluorescent overhead lighting. It’s pushing 90º. I’m dizzy. Lunch was a sugar free Red Bull and some almonds. I begin to feel sweat beads forming constellations on my lower back but my legs and arms are covered in goosebumps.

The cashier’s face is hazy at best when I stand behind four construction workers in line at the bodega, clutching a cold Diet Coke to my chest. I nod my head lazily and sway a bit, but stop when I feel like I may topple over. The words make me feel too much and the guitar solo echoes my mind: frenzied, full of passion that I’m still learning how to harness.

I’m bored. I’m barely sleeping. I’m barely eating. Partly because I forget to, partly because I am too busy, partly because I don’t want to. I begin to feel like I am going through the motions. Wake up, go to the gym, go to work, come home, sleep. Day in and day out. “Working For The Weekend” plays in the grocery store on a Monday during the evening rush hour and I can’t help but laugh at the irony of it all.

I start to look at houseboats on Airbnb, fantasize about escaping to Montauk for Labor Day to do nothing but lie on a boat and listen to records and write and maybe drink some wine, but then I remember that I know nothing about boats or the Jitney. I remember that I don’t own a car. I remember that I don’t know the first thing about buying wine.

Instead, I spend my nights sitting on my fire escape. I’ve got a Stones record on and all my candles are lit. You can’t always get what you want.

It’s starting to get chilly already and the air smells like all of the dreams and possibilities of back to school. Do you remember? Remember how you would think, every year, without fail, this was it? Each year was a chance to start over, a chance to be different, be better. This year I am going to get all As, even in math. I am going to get parts in plays. I am going to kiss boys. I am going to hear my name read at the spring awards assembly. I am going to be somebody.

I am still new enough to adulthood that these memories are seared fresh into my mind. I still believe that this is the time to make resolutions, not January 1. There’s a part of me that misses the ritual of it all and I feel like something is missing. A new Fall catalog from Delia’s (née dELiA*s) will not be coming to my doorstep. My mother will not be driving me to the King of Prussia Mall or making sure I have enough pens — the good kind — or buying me new sheets and towels for my dorm room. This is when I realize that there’s no one taking care of me anymore. When left to my own devices, I’m not so good. Hence the Diet Coke lunches, hence the lack of sleep.

I want something different. I want something more and I want it now. In July, I moved to a new apartment in a new neighborhood, but it’s not enough. Nothing is ever enough for me. I am never smart enough or skinny enough or pretty enough or or talented enough or fearless enough.

In between looking at houseboats (still), I see a post on LinkedIn for a job at The New Yorker and I send them my resume and a cover letter, almost laughing at the improbability of it all. Me? At The New Yorker? It seems foolishly presumptuous. “Put out positive vibes,” everyone around me says. “Remember what she said.”

She told me to follow my passion. She told me what to do when someone stood in my way. But she didn’t tell me what to do when that someone was me.

Carly and I decide to write a musical. It’s something I haven’t done before, so why not? We sit on the floor on Sundays and eat cheeseless pizza (the good people of Domino’s call every time: “It says on your order that you don’t want no cheese? Y’all sure?”) while a two hour long documentary outtake of Fleetwood Mac in Japan in 1977 plays on the TV on mute.

We try to write. Well, we think about writing. We talk about writing. Talking about writing is almost the same thing as actually writing, right? It’s the thought that counts, I think. We talk about turning the musical into a miniseries or a feature film, laugh about the branded product tie-ins that could come along with it and whether or not Tom Hanks would sign on to produce. The SOIP is coming to a close and we’re already on to the next daydream.

We finish hashing out a potential scene and I return to my phone. “So,” I say. “What do you think about this houseboat?”

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