I’ve been accumulating a lot of thoughts over the past month, fluctuating between waves of feeling so compelled to write and feeling like writing is the last thing I want to do. I’ve always thought that writing was the way I was meant to express myself — that it would express my feelings better than anything else could. I still believe this, fundamentally, but I lately feel at a loss for expressing myself, period. It’s good and bad. Good, in the sense that I truly do feel like I’m living in the present. I’m taking one day at a time, not looking too far ahead, not dwelling on the past. At the same time, my head and my heart seem to be all out of whack.
For the first time in my life, I honestly don’t know the answer to “what’s next?” I’ve always had a tentative idea of where I’d be in the next 6 months, at least. High school to college. College to an internship. Internship to a full-time job. The full-time job was under a contract that would end this coming May, and I figured at that point, I’d pivot or look to move up in the organization. Instead, I pivoted earlier. Now I’m working a fully remote job, meaning that I can technically live anywhere. I can build a life in any place I choose — cultivate a brand new lifestyle. There’s no limit to the trips I can take, the places I can see, the people I can meet (money and COVID willing, of course). And that’s simultaneously freeing and paralyzing.
I have faith that the answers to where I want to be and what I want to do will reveal themselves to me in time — hence me living in the moment. But I do wonder when living in the moment starts to be living in a routine — a routine in which life just passes you by.
On that cheery thought, here are some stories and observations from the past month or so.
The day before I left for Christmas break, I was out with a bunch of friends. At some point, outer space became the topic of conversation, and my roommate, Megan, asserted that all men are obsessed with outer space. I usually push back on such definitive statements, but I struggled to think of an exception to this rule. (Our male friends with us both agreed that they loved space, right then and there.) Needing more convincing, I texted my brother, “Hey! Hope the semester ended well for you. Random question: what do you think of outer space?”
He responded almost immediately, “Thanks! Outer space is AWESOME.”
I kept testing the theory. When my dad was driving us home from Newark airport, I casually asked, “So, like, what do you think of outer space?”
“What, you mean just in general?”
“Yeah, your general opinion of outer space.”
“Oh, outer space is so cool!”
I think Megan is onto something, and I’ll continue to test the hypothesis. For me, outer space movies have depicted the galaxy to be far too terrifying to enjoy. The Martian, Interstellar, Hidden Figures, even Don’t Look Up … they all show how high stakes space travel is. Count me out.
You know those essentially golf carts at the airport that will transport people to their gate? They are comically slow. Comically. I have a hard time imagining hopping onto one of them and getting to my gate any faster than my own two legs carrying me. I totally get why those who are differently abled likely need to rely on these carts — but man, they must have to get to the airport even earlier than average, at the rate that these things travel!
What I really can’t imagine is being a driver of one of these carts. With how oblivious people are to them, it must be agonizing. Crawling through the airport, trying to alert people to move out of the way practically every foot. You couldn’t pay me enough.
While I was at the airport to travel home, my flight got delayed. I wandered from my gate to get some food and make a phone call, and when I came back, there were simply no seats available. And it wasn’t because of social distancing; there just weren’t enough seats, period. So I dumped my backpack along a people mover and sat down to read, uncomfortably.
Not long after, a mountain bro type of guy walked over. I describe him like this because he was wearing really high-end outdoor pants and a jacket, but then an oversized hat and slippers. Kind of a tool at first glance. But he very politely gestured to the space on the floor next to me and asked if he could sit there — as if I owned the section of carpet adjacent to the people mover. I was kind of amazed at the formality, and of course allowed him to sit next to me, chiding myself for judging a book by its cover.
As I kept reading, he made a phone call. Mid-call, he paused, tapped me on the shoulder, and gestured to two open seats that had just been vacated — “Do you want to move?” he asked. Once again, I was amused and I don’t know, touched, by the politeness? We relocated, glad to be off the floor.
Whether it’s the result of COVID or not, I often find myself unwilling to engage with people in public places. In fact, I usually listen to music while grocery shopping, specifically so people won’t talk to me. But this random guy forcing me to let down my tough exterior reminded me of the flip side — the times where I’m friendly and engaging with other people. And how it’s so much better.
It generally happens at the climbing gym. I’ll just insert myself into others’ conversations, and shockingly, it often doesn’t go poorly. “This is a great song, do you remember who it’s by?” an unsuspecting climber will ask his friend. Me: “Oh, this is Passion Pit. Circa 2014? Great album, Gossamer.”
Did they ask for me to butt in? Absolutely not. But I think like the guy at the airport for me, the interaction is amusing.
We humans were made for connection. We’ve just lost sight of how to do it.
I’m still talking about the Beatles’ Get Back special on Disney+ — probably because I’ve had “Dig a Pony” and “I’ve Got a Feeling” stuck in my head for a couple weeks now. It’s hard not to care about something that you invested literally nine hours of your life watching. I laugh at all the folks who posted their Spotify Unwrapped top artists on Instagram, proudly showing the Beatles in their top five. Sure, you listened to “Come Together” a bunch, but did you have any sort of Beatles commitment to watch them for NINE HOURS? I think not.
Anyway, the last hour of the special is genuinely magical. The Beatles are playing on the rooftop of Apple Studios, wind coursing through their hair. Street goers below are looking up with curiosity and glee, recognizing the sound of the beloved musicians. Some of the recordings on the rooftop are so damn good, that they are the actual versions you hear on the Get Back album. For my part, I could not stop smiling watching the scene.
I think the imagery of the Beatles on the roof truly infiltrated my dad’s psyche, though. As I announced plans to head back to Colorado early, Steve declared, “Well, we’ve got to see if we can jam with Dennis and Rich. You know, it’s going to be mild this week. We could set everything up in the pool area and jam outdoors!”
I did not initially make a connection between this grand scheme and the special; I just thought my dad really wanted to make a jam session work in light of the Omicron variant. Skeptically, I replied that I’d be willing to do it, if Dennis and Rich were on board.
Rich, a classic no-bullshit New Yorker, turned it down. Dennis was not as aggressive about it, but he too said no. I couldn’t really fathom me and three dads setting up all this musical equipment outside, in the dark, playing in the damp of a truly disgusting post-Christmas New York December.
My dad kept lamenting that it wasn’t going to happen, and finally I caught on. He was just pining for our own “rooftop” moment. It’s a small dream, but a totally achievable and sweet one. So I’ve decided we’ll make it happen — just in warmer weather, and on the upstairs balcony.
Three unrelated thoughts that may/may not be entertaining:
- We all have a pair of pants that’s just a *little* too tight. Not so tight that we’re willing to get rid of them. But tight enough that we worry how much we’ve eaten that day before putting them on.
- “Oftentimes” is a dumb word. Just “often” is sufficient.
- Megan never finishes a seltzer in one sitting. She puts a half-drank seltzer back in the fridge and drinks it later, which I cannot even begin to understand. The other day, I put her wounded warrior seltzer in the fridge for her. “Is this mine?” she asked the next day. “I guess so, since you drink seltzers way faster than me!” To which I responded, “You mean … at a normal rate?”
You ever just been drawn to a place? Like you just feel that you’re meant to go there, and maybe some of life’s mysteries will be solved? I think this is a phenomenon, anyway.
It happened to me yesterday. I was on Facebook (lame, I know) checking out a craft beer fan page (even more lame, I know), and saw a post for this brewery in Fort Collins. It immediately caught my eye for its name: “Jessup Farm Barrel House.”
Not only is Jessup Road just a half mile from the house where I grew up, there’s a farm and apple orchard right on it. Weird, huh? So I went to the website for the brewery and found that the brewery itself is in a barn — another symbol I associate deeply with home.
The brewery’s logo is a fox — my spirit animal — too. I see foxes everywhere, and I believe they’re trying to tell me something whenever they make their presence known.
Even perusing their menu, their offerings were all beers and foods that I would be intrigued to try. It wasn’t the usual bar fare or lame excuses for craft beer. This would be a place I’d go on my birthday, or some special occasion.
Where did this place come from, and how come I’d never heard of it? All I can tell is, I simply need to go there. I truly believe I will find something — or someone — unexpected if I do.