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So, Pocket recommended my own article to me as part of their Best of 2017. Which, like, WHAT?! Then I found out it was one of the most-shared music features across a bunch of sites this year (again, WHAT??!). I’m still processing it all. I didn’t write as much as usual this year, but I’m proud of this piece and so humbled that it was a small part of an overdue story about a deserving and inspiring artist. I hope it helped more people appreciate or revisit her work, and maybe fit into a much larger conversation about women reclaiming their part of the narrative in 2017.

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Some thoughts on being a female runner

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This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

I really wish this was the only message of its kind I got over the past few days, but it isn’t.

Three women who went out for runs in the past two weeks didn’t come back. All I can think about — and, apparently, all many of my friends, family, and loved ones can think about, too — is how easily that could have been me.

Running is, for the most part, a solitary sport. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. I can count the number of people I run with on one hand, and that’s by choice.

A running partner is a big commitment, at least, it is to me. You have to gel on an unspoken level: who sets the pace, who chooses the course, who moves behind when the path narrows. You have to know whether they’ll push you or force you to pace yourself or match your speed and endurance. You have to trust them enough to be okay with being around them when you’re bare and incredibly vulnerable — no makeup, just out of bed, sweaty and smelly, running on fumes. You have to be comfortable enough with them to know that most of your time together will be shrouded in silence.

Suffice to say, I run alone most of the time.

I run early in the morning, usually around 6:30 a.m., but in my 13 years of running, I’ve been out on a run practically every time of the day — 5 a.m., 3 p.m., 10 p.m., you name it. I run by the East River and the Hudson River and the outer loop of Central Park. I run busy New York streets and quiet suburban ones. I run my old cross country route through my hometown’s wooded park; I run the secluded trails of Central Park. I run in double layers of leggings and fleece tops and jackets and I run in spandex shorts and sports bras.

I am always afraid.

I am always afraid, even when my mother sternly tells me to stay away from the trails if I’m by myself and I laugh it off and tell her to stop being paranoid. I am always afraid because I’m neurotic and anxious and that’s just my nature. I am always afraid because things happen, because solitary women anywhere, doing anything, are always targets. I am always afraid because the female jogging victim seems like such a regular phenomenon that I don’t know why there aren’t actually statistics to source about how commonplace attacks on them are.

Sometimes I am more afraid than others. Sometimes I cut runs short or run faster than I can handle or just don’t run at all. Sometimes that fear quiets itself to just a very slight whisper, sometimes it only exists in the habits I’ve formed, like how I swapped my weightless iPod shuffle for a much heavier iPhone, because what if something happened?

You know what? I’m angry. I’m so, so angry, and this isn’t the first time I’ve said so. I’m angry because these brutal attacks keep happening to women and I’m angry because I’ve been criticized and made fun of for being upset. I’m angry because people have gone so far as to create an entire sub-reddit to mock my fear. I’m angry because this doesn’t happen to men.

All of this anger and fear, even if it usually just exists on a subconscious level, is exhausting. I’m tired. I want to walk out the door one day with nothing but my keys and just go. I want to know what that sort of freedom feels like. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

On women who changed my life

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This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs

I don’t need a special month to celebrate women. I don’t need a special hashtag or a sharable animation or a montage of badass influential women. I don’t need it to be Woman Crush Wednesday or anything like that. I don’t need an excuse to celebrate women who have influenced my life, because I do it all the time. I do it because it’s important to me to reflect on who I am and who made me this way. I do it because it’s important to acknowledge women for their contributions to society whenever. I’d do it every day if I could. I do it because I hope maybe it inspires someone else to think about a lady hero or two (or three) in their lives.

But because there’s an extra level of relevancy and there’s an excuse to do so, in honor of Women’s History Month, I present to you a list of six women who changed my life. They’re not all famous and they’re not all super old, but they are all amazing in their own ways. These six women are lady heroes, women I aspire to be like, women who have taught me in so many ways, left an indelible mark on my soul, and inspire me to be my best self:

Mary Tyler Moore set a baseline very early in my life for what lady heroes mean to me. I’ve written about this before: when I was little, I could stay up all night watching reruns of the Mary Tyler Moore show. Of course, so much of it went over my head at the time, but not all of it. A lot stuck.

I knew that Mary Tyler Moore helped to create the world of Mary Richards. She was partly responsible for a representation of a woman in the workplace (which was the first time I knew I wanted to be a journalist). Mary and her fictional counterpart instilled in me the values of hard work, but mostly, the values of friendship. Mary taught me the importance of having a ride or die BFF, even (or maybe especially) if she’s different than you. We have Abbi and Ilana today, but Mary and Rhoda were the OG best friend soulmates.

Later on, Mary taught me the importance of being brave, and that happiness is a choice. So many horrific things had happened to her in life and yet she never gave up or became bitter. She never threw pity parties. “Pain nourishes courage,” she said. “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”

Jane Fonda is… incredible. Strong. Fierce. Opinionated. Passionate. Unwavering. The latter half of those qualities were my north star in middle school. I wanted to be just like Jane. I wanted to know what it felt like to have beliefs so strong that they wouldn’t be shaken, even if they weren’t always popular.

Twelve and thirteen were big years for me. That was a time where I started to figure out who I was, and, as I fell out of a clique, what I stood for. I went from being a cool girl in the cool clique to to the girl who would buy the New York Times at the coffeehouse during lunch, the girl with the Michael Moore book under her arm, ranting about how Iraq was Vietnam part 2, lecturing about how free speech was being infringed upon in schools — very serious and very uncool to fellow tweens.

But when everyone else sneered and told me I didn’t know what I was talking about, I refused to concede. I knew that, on a lot of things, I was right. That’s all because of Jane. She taught me to be brave and stand up for what I believe in. She also taught me that even the strongest of women deal with insecurity, which made me believe that I wasn’t so hopeless, after all. Looking back, I’m so thankful that I had such a rock solid lady hero to guide me through such a turbulent time. I probably would have drowned without her.

Tina Fey came into my life around the same time for the same reason. I thought I was very clever and sneaky, watching SNL in my bedroom while my parents slept, even if I fell asleep before it was over. After that first episode, though, no matter how heavy my eyelids, I forced myself to stay awake through Weekend Update.

I was drawn to Tina, her wit and her IDGAF attitude. I fell down an internet rabbit hole and quickly found out her writing swagger and fell even more in love. This was a woman I wanted to be: A leader. Someone comfortable with doing her own thing, even if it was weird. A boss bitch in a boys’ club.

When Mean Girls came out, I was so incredibly thankful. Everyone else looked at it like just a funny teen movie, but I saw more. I felt like the film had been made just for me, to show me that I would survive petty girl drama, that it was all so ridiculous and actually damaging. That laughter she gave me for several days after school for at least a year took the place of tears.

Mrs. Brock is a woman whom words do not do enough justice. They just don’t. I have never met a person whose heart is so big and so full of love and compassion. I have never met someone who just wants the best for everyone. She was a saint of a teacher who rarely got flustered, who never really raised her voice at us.

Maybe that’s because we all respected her too much. Maybe that’s because she actually respected us. She had this unique way of treating her students like we were real almost-adults — not children — and at the same time was sweet and gentle and maternal without being condescending.

This woman taught me so many things: dedication (from the number of times she would open up her classroom doors for help at 7 a.m. to the number of miles she runs in a week to the fact that we’re still friends seven years after I graduated high school), confidence, what it really means to be a mentor. The list goes on.

Whenever I realize that I’m sort of taking someone under my wing and feel wildly unqualified, I just think: “What would Mrs. Brock do? What would she say?” Whenever I’m running and I’m tired and I want to quit, I think: “if you were running with Mrs. Brock, you wouldn’t dare stop — and she wouldn’t let you if you tried.” Whenever I have doubts about any of my dreams, I remember how she insists: “You have to be your own advocate.” That sort of special mentorship and influence is something I hope I can emulate someday, though I’ll never be the same.

Mrs. Delellis-Johnson (Also affectionately known as DJ or Deej) is, simply put, brilliant. In 9th grade, I took a creative writing elective with upperclassmen that was taught by the notoriously tough, genius-level smart, and acerbic 10th grade English teacher. She did not give a shit about your feelings and would not hesitate to call you stupid to your face if it was warranted. I was terrified.

I was a bitch to my middle school English teachers. I was. They couldn’t understand why I couldn’t conform to the rigid five paragraph structure they set for everyone else, and I didn’t understand why they wanted me to. I routinely pissed them off announcing things like: “What you are teaching us is wrong. A five sentence minimum per paragraph rule is wrong. A paragraph is a complete thought; there’s no quota. A paragraph could be one word.” I was getting antsy. I was getting fed up. I was beginning to want to give up on writing.

But Deej was different. She actually liked my writing. Like… a lot. She submitted my first short story to a Scholastic contest and gushed that she thought it was smart and more mature and advanced than it should be for a 14 year old. I finally felt like I was doing something right.

She really was the first teacher who gave me confidence in my writing, who believed in me and understood my style. She never tried to pigeonhole me into regressive styles meant to teach weak writers — she challenged me to be even better. This continued over the next three years of high school, and she always went above and beyond. She edited and advised on pieces I wrote for a variety of places, from contests to college admissions essays to a bullshit screenplay treatment for a (still unfinished) screenplay I laughably submitted to Sundance when I was 17. She is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and I miss her and I cannot thank her enough for everything she’s done for me. If she hadn’t come into my life at that crucial time, I honestly don’t know if I would have continued to write.

Stevie Nicks completes the list, because, of course. There are many, many words to be said about Stevie, some I’ve already shared, some that are still waiting to be written.

When I graduated college and took a grownup job that wasn’t editorial, I stopped writing altogether. I was so burnt out from all the pieces I churned out between school and internships and so disheartened by all the editorial job openings I’d see that only paid $25K a year. (Fun fact: you can work an entry level position at one of the major magazine publishers in New York and qualify for food stamps!) I’ll never be a writer, I cried on more than one occasion. I will never be a writer. Those words felt like a death sentence.

I can’t really name the a-ha moment. I had been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac in my senior year, and at some point, it just occurred to me that the woman I admired so much has never given up. She has never let obstacles define her or hold her back from creating. She has never changed who she is to make someone else happy. She is probably the most authentic person I (don’t) know. And that’s what made me write again. She does things on her terms. She made me believe that, yes, I would be a writer, and I would do it my way. Stevie made me refocus my creative energy into writing about things I actually care about. Writing about what I care about reached other people who cared about the same things, which brought a few really wonderful, beautiful, special people into my life. It was a chain reaction of magic. And it’s all because of Stevie.

Who I am today, at this very moment, is really the product of these women and their influence. Maybe that’s going to change in the future, but right now, I’m pretty okay with it. So even if none of them ever have a chance in their lifetimes to read this, I’m throwing this out to the universe. Thank you. For everything. I mean it.

Year in Review

This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

So, I guess this is the time of year where I’m supposed to start reminiscing. I guess this is the new year. I guess everybody’s doing it, so that means I should, too. Isn’t that how it works?

I’ve never really felt like the new year started on January 1st. The dead of winter, when everything is bare and gray and it gets dark at 4 o’clock and you’re sad because the holidays are over and there’s just a long stretch of cold and nothingness to look forward to? That’s how we’re going to restart?

To me, the new year still begins in the fall, in September when the air starts to get crisp. The time of year when it’s not quite too cold for shorts, but you start getting goosebumps. That time of year when there’s still, literally, a new leaf to turn over. Sometimes I associate the start of the new year with my birthday — even though I hate it — because it’s maybe not the start of a new year, but the start of my new year.

But the Gregorian calendar doesn’t give a damn what I think, and the year is going to change in a little more than 48 hours. I don’t remember making any resolutions on January 1st this year. I don’t really have any planned for next. I don’t think you should limit yourself to one day of the whole year to make a decision to change something in your life. Do what feels right, when it feels right. Do what makes you happy.

But getting back to the reminiscing. I put it off until the last minute, becausethat’s what I always do I thought maybe I hadn’t done much in the past year, but I was wrong. I’m still not the person I want to be (what’s new?), but I think I got a little closer this year.

I made friends and I lost friends. Each one of them has been in my life for a specific reason, however brief or long it may be. I fought with some of them, but they stayed and still loved me, even when I said intentionally hurtful things. You really do get two families — the one you are born with and the one you choose. I think I made the right choices.

I wrote a lot and then I stopped writing as often. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was tired. I was so tired. I was living somewhere that made me hate New York. I was working too much — which isn’t a problem if you love what you do, but I had grown to loathe it. The misery and hate and pessimism out of my pores and stained everything I touched. The words stopped coming as easily. Sometimes they weren’t very buoyant, but they were always true.

I learned to live a little. There were nights I stayed out too late or drank a little too much or spent too much money. There were workouts I skipped and pieces I never wrote and chores I didn’t get done. But I learned, after years of denying myself, that maybe having fun isn’t such a bad thing. I learned that being productive 24/7 doesn’t make you a better person. It makes you a burnout, sooner or later. I learned that it’s okay to relax. It’s okay to sometimes act your age.

January
At Christmas, my parents sat me down and told me that I was not allowed to go to any of Fleetwood Mac’s second leg shows, tempting as it was. I needed to be “fiscally responsible.” I solemnly agreed. Three weeks later, I decided life was too short, my credit card limit too high, and my future chances like this too few. I decided that I was an adult, right, so I could make my own decisions. Was it irresponsible? Absolutely. Was it fun? Was it worth it? Yes and yes.

Favorite thing I wrote: On New York

February
Oops. I did it again. It was emotional. Also, the first time people started recognizing me in public for my writing, and professing their love for it. Which was weird. Awesome, but weird.

Favorite things I wrote: Rock On, Gold Dust Woman | Lessons From the Queens of Comedy

March
Oh yeah, that time I went on a road trip to VIRGINIA with Krissy and Cathy to see Fleetwood Mac. AGAIN. That time we drove there and back in one night, got home at 6:30 a.m. and went to work at 9. Sometimes, you have to let yourself go on adventures.

Favorite thing I wrote: Long Distance Winner (on running)

April
I remember very little about April. Which goes to show that things that probably matter a lot to you right now may be completely forgotten in a few months.

Favorite thing I wrote: How to Handle Hate Mail

May
I met Carly (strange, I know, because I think we’ve secretly known each other our whole lives) and the summer of infinite possibilities began. Carly taught me, among many things, to stop making excuses for why I couldn’t do things and to start saying yes more.

I turned 24, kicking and screaming. Did I still look at everyone around me doing more than me and feel sorry for myself and insecure? Yes. (I still do that and I don’t know if I will ever grow out of it.) But did I start to think that maybe I had done a decent amount to be proud of already? Yeah.

Favorite things I wrote: Happy Birthday, Stevie Nicks: Our Rock and Roll Fairy Godmother | Oh, I Don’t Know (on my birthday)

June
Noel and I were reunited after six months apart. We hadn’t gone that long without seeing each other, until now. That was the last time I saw her for real. Sure, through social media, texting, and FaceTime, we are practically inseparable 24 hours a day. But long distance friendships are hard. They really suck. Nothing compares to being with someone in real life.

Bonnaroo was sweaty and exhausting and amazing. I saw Robert Plant and did not, as I had worried, have a heart attack. It was an experience, one I can’t wait to have again. But the fact that I got to spend a whole week with my best friendsister was maybe an even better experience.

Favorite thing I wrote: Betrayal (on Joni Mitchell)

July
I quit something for the first time in my life. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to quit anything. It didn’t matter if I got a crummy chorus part in the play or if the basketball coach was playing favorites. You signed up for this. You don’t have to do it again, but you made a commitment for now, my parents drilled into me. And that’s kind of how I’ve lived my life since then: I make a commitment and I stick to it, for better or worse, because quitting is unacceptable.

Except that it’s not. It’s okay to quit things if that’s what makes you happy. I left my lease early — it wasn’t anything major like walking out on a job. There were no arguments, no bad roommates, no drama. I didn’t leave people hanging — someone else took my spot. I just realized that location matters for some people, that it matters for me. Where I was living wasn’t working. So I moved closer to work and closer to my stomping grounds. Life instantly got easier and I didn’t get angry on the subway anymore, because the A doesn’t have anywhere near the delays as the N or the Q.

It’s okay to quit things in order to be happy. Stop equating quitting with failing. Stop worrying about what other people will think about you. Fuck the haters. Seriously. People judging you for doing you have no place in your life. Do not set yourself on fire to keep others warm.

Favorite things I wrote: New Beginnings (technically June, but it’s about my July move soooo) | Vanessa Carlton’s Blue Pool EP Subtlely Stuns

August
The summer of infinite possibilities was coming to an end and I felt like I hadn’t gotten anywhere. I lost count of how many dream jobs I applied for. Writing wasn’t as easy as it used to be. I started to feel bitter and defeated.

But people notice you even when you think they don’t. I got offered a piece with Quartz because a former college classmate and colleague of mine thought, from what I posted and shared on social media, that I was the right person to do it. I think it turned out pretty well.

Favorite things I wrote: Taylor Swift’s fight against Big Music doesn’t make her a champion of the creative class (the Quartz piece) | Houseboats

September
I remembered how to have fun. I saw Emmylou Harris. I saw Robert Plant again and realized how fucking lucky I am. There’s a lot that I want and don’t have, but I do have a lot. I saw so many of my favorite aging rock stars and heroes — some multiple times — in the past year, and not many people have those same opportunities.

Somehow I was confident enough to hold my own with Henry Diltz, Pattie Boyd, and a slew of real grown-ups. And I learned a lot from them, but I also learned to trust myself and my abilities more.

Favorite thing I wrote: On Henry Diltz and Capturing Memories

October
I finally got a new job, one that I didn’t even apply for, one that I love. People will remember you and will recommend you for things they think you are capable of. Impressions matter. Work ethic matters. Staying in touch matters.

People still don’t like it when you write about them! But writers are always going to be writing about other people. As Anne Lamott says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

The most you can do is be truthful and know that you never do anything with a mean spirit. After that, another person’s feelings are out of your hands.

Favorite thing I wrote: The Funemployment Chronicles

November
There have been few things as exhilarating in my life as staying up all night on the rooftop of Le Bain with my sister on her birthday. There’s something about Manhattan rooftops that make me feel alive.

I also ate really good chicken fingers at a diner that morning at 4:30 a.m., and no, Carly, I will not forget them.

Favorite thing I wrote: On Comparison

December
I randomly got to meet Vanessa Carlton and it was surreal, not just to meet an artist you admire and respect, but to meet someone whose work you really grew up alongside. I met Warren Zanes, who wrote my favorite book of the year, not just because it was plain good, but because he writes about Tom Petty with the admiration and feeling that I write about Stevie Nicks. And I think that’s pretty rad. These two writers got me inspired again.

(I also lost my chill a little over Star Wars. #sorrynotsorry)

Favorite thing I wrote: this.

On Comparison

This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

I did something bad last night.

I did this thing that I do too often that is terrible and counterproductive and probably not very healthy. I did this thing that everybody warns me to stop doing, but I can’t.

I compared myself to others.

Last night, I stayed up until nearly 2 a.m., hours after I had taken melatonin, long after I should have passed out. I should have turned my computer off, turned on my sleep playlist, and closed my eyes. Instead, I found myself spiraling through a dark hole of the internet that hosts the LinkedIn profiles and resumes and clips of all of my peers — who are, in a way, all of my competition, as well.

Suddenly, after a week of feeling great about myself, feeling like I had settled in and was doing great work at my new job, feeling like I had amazing friends, feeling like I was doing pretty alright for 24, I felt like a complete and utter failure.

This is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. X is prettier than me, so I am ugly. Y is skinnier than I am, so I’m fat. Z gets better grades than I do, so I’m stupid. And it’s something that’s not fun, but I don’t know how to stop. In the age of the internet, I find it even harder to.

Last night I found myself at that place. I was reading article after article by the girl I almost replaced at another publication. I looked at the body of work she has produced, the quality of it all. And then I looked at mine. The handful of post-graduate projects and freelance pieces and the irregularly updated blog. I couldn’t understand how I was even picked as possibility to do the job she had done, let alone gone through several rounds of interviews as a serious contender.

I felt sick. I felt hopeless. I cursed myself for having a social life in my rare moments of off-time, scolded myself and said I should spend that time working. I questioned how I’d be able to make something of myself out of what I’ve done so far. I thought about writer’s block. I thought about the limitations my non-compete clause puts on me moving forward, and what or where I’ll write from now on.

I thought about patience, or lack thereof. Everyone around me seems to be getting offered book deals or writing great things for big places. I have a great job at an amazing company, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not writing, which is what I ultimately want, so I still feel like something is missing.

What would have happened had I patiently waited to hear from the other job before taking the one I have now? Would I have gotten it? Would I have been good? I keep wondering when I’m going to get my chance to break through. I keep wondering if I will break through. I keep wondering if I am patient enough to figure it all out.

“What the fuck do we have to do?” I texted a friend.
“We just have to keep going,” she replied. “Keep up the pursuit and trust that everything we need to succeed is what we already have.”

Am I patient enough for that?

Comparison can be a healthy drive. A faster runner pushes you to speed up. The straight-A student makes you study harder. Everyone wants to be just as good as the next person, to a point. You have to be the best you, not the best them. Someone is always going to be better, but that doesn’t automatically negate your talent or abilities.

Now that I’ve told the internet that, let me try to listen to my own advice for once. I’ve written about how nearly 50 amazing, accomplished women(including most of my personal heroes) were far from huge successes when they were my age, how the ones who are killing it at 24 or 25 or 26 are a rare bunch. I wrote reassuringly about how young we are, how we still have so much time. And yet, I can’t even seem to listen to myself.

Maybe it’s time to start. Maybe it’s time to trust myself and what I have to offer in a vacuum. Trust that I can do it, period. Not that someone else can do it better than me. Maybe it’s time to stop feeling defeated. Maybe it’s time to step away from LinkedIn. Maybe it’s time to remember that I still have a long way to go, but I still have more time.

The Funemployment Chronicles

This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

I quit my job last Friday. I packed up all ten pairs of shoes in my desk drawers, took down all the photos taped to the wall behind my computer. Two weeks before, I walked into my boss’s office and nervously handed him a resignation letter. He smiled and wished me good luck and just like that, a two and a half year period of my life began to come to an end.

I had a week off between my last day at my old job and my first day at the new one. A week to do whatever I wanted — I haven’t been this free since college. Since before college, really. I cracked jokes about funemployment and lack of stress, but as the days began to bleed into each other, I realized that getting away from it all wasn’t really getting me anywhere. I don’t know how to not be busy.

Day One

It’s Saturday morning and I’m up before the sun. I decided to go home for the weekend, see the Pennsylvania fall before it’s over. By the time I’m back for Thanksgiving (if I can make it back for Thanksgiving), the flaming trees will be extinguished and bare. My parents are out of town and I have the house to myself.

When I was younger, I used to fantasize about coming home as an adult. I would arrive at the train station chic and sophisticated, like Audrey Hepburn inSabrina. I’d catch people’s stares — Who is this girl? Where did she come from? — as I ducked into a chauffeured car. When it pulled up to my house, I would emerge slowly and stoically, with my dark sunglasses still on, and ring the doorbell to surprise everyone.

In reality, I arrive tired and without makeup, the bags under my eyes heavier than the ones I carry in my arms. I wear ripped jeans and a Rolling Stones sweatshirt, my hair in a messy braid. I don’t even have a black car waiting to whisk me away. My Uber is a sad, tan sedan.

But the second I walk in the door, I feel lighter. I drop my bags in the living room, grab my mother’s car keys, and drive for what feels like hours. My throat hurts when I finally return home. I was singing the whole time.

It feels nice to not think for awhile.

Day Two

I sleep until nearly noon — the latest I’ve slept since high school. I feel guilty for wasting the morning, but I remember I have nowhere to be and nothing to do and no one to report to. I remember that I stayed up until 3 a.m. the night before. I remember how many times I had to stop myself from texting you.

That afternoon, I meet my sister to go shopping. “I need business lady clothes,” I tell her. “I need to look more like a boss bitch.” Aside from a black turtleneck, I inexplicably end up putting a bag full of floaty, Free People-y gypsy dresses in the backseat of my mother’s car.

I want to talk to you, but I can’t, so I distract myself by binging on a bowl of mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt and episodes of Transparent. I eat the yogurt in tiny bites and by the time the second episode begins to autoplay, it’s nearly all melted. One more mess to clean up.

Day Three

I woke up in the middle of the night, suddenly very aware of how alone I am.Someone is going to murder me, I panic. Someone must know I’m here by myself. This isn’t like being home alone in a secure apartment building. This is a house. There are a million ways in and out, and someone is going to find one of them, break in, and murder me.

At some point I fall back to sleep. My parents come home 12 hours later, and even if their presence annoys me a little with their nagging questions about what I’ve done the past few days and when I’m going back and what plans I have coming up, I let out a breath of relief I didn’t know I was holding. I will not be murdered tonight.

Day Four

A man approached me at the gym this morning:

“I know this isn’t proper gym etiquette,” he explained, “but I’ve seen you work out here before. I love your face.”
“What?” I panted from the elliptical, looking down at him while I climbed simulated hills.

This is the first time I’ve been here in months and I’m left a little unsettled. People at home are so quick to warn me about the dangers of the big city, but sometimes I think it’s the small town creeps that are scarier. I’m paranoid as I leave and take the long way home.

I told myself I would be productive this week, but here I am digging through boxes of old photos while a five hour long highlight reel of Glastonbury 2013 plays on the TV. I’m enamored with photos of 6-year-old me. There are a surprising amount of ones circa 1997 where I’m proudly flashing a peace sign — so much sass. I wish I could time travel and babysit this little girl. I think we would be buds. I think she would like me.

It’s all a good distraction, but I am still very much aware that it’s been a week since we’ve talked.

Day Five

The day goes by in a blur. Time flies when you’re doing nothing. I was supposed to leave yesterday, but I delay my return to reality a little longer. I don’t want to face being a real person again. I don’t want to face you again. Not yet.

My ears are ringing; I’ve been blasting my music on full volume while I drive. I grow tired of Spotify and start playing mix CDs I’ve found in my parents’ cars. Most of them are nameless, though some are marked with the dates. I squeal in delight when a song I love comes on. Great CD, old me. Good job, I think.

So this is it then? I almost text you. I type it all out, nearly hit send, but delete it all and go back to Instagram. I scroll and scroll, looking at images I’ve already seen. My feed doesn’t refresh fast enough for my attention span.

Day Six

I am restless, so I dust my bike off for the first time in years and go for a ride. The sun beats down and it’s warmer than it should be for October. I’m not sure if that’s why I’m sweating, or if it’s because of my nerves.

My finger hovers over your name too many times to count. This is all so stupid, I want to say, but never do. I can’t be weak. I can’t miss you.

I don’t need you. I don’t need you. I don’t need you, I repeat. If I say it enough, maybe I’ll believe it.

Day Seven

My week is up and the new job lingers. I’m finally taking a train back to New York. Time to be a grownup again. I’m nauseous, and I can’t tell if it’s from excitement or anxiety. I’m remembering a conversation we once had.

“I’m so afraid of the future,” I said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to me.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, either,” you said, “but I’m not scared. I’m excited.”