Apartment 53

Apartment 53 was my first apartment in NYC where I lived on my own, and thus, where I really think of my life as a Manhattan woman beginning. I've always been fascinated by NYC apartments. Giant buildings filled with people, each with their own story. Windows everywhere. And I always wonder: what's behind them? What do people see when they look in from the outside? What is the real story of the person who lives behind that glass? This is my blog. A real story from a Manhattan apartment.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another Place but Home

I’m back in New York City now after a three week-long trip to Central America. I’ve always been a big lover of travel and with my flexible schedule I knew that I wanted to take a fairly lengthy jaunt to somewhere a little off the beaten path so my travel partner and I decided on Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. For three weeks I didn’t touch a pair of high heels. I let my makeup bag fall to the bottom of my suitcase, allowed my normally blown-straight hair to return to its naturally curly state, and traded my trademark Bulgari perfume for insect repellent with a high concentration of deet. I loved every second. My cuticles, usually cracked and picked at, went untouched. My toes, usually crammed in to overpriced, overly uncomfortable shoes, flexed free in flip-flops and sneakers. We hiked Mayan ruins, zip lined through the jungle, snorkeled with sharks and stingrays, watched shooting stars, and admired toucans, iguanas, turtles, monkeys, blue herons, and hummingbirds in their natural habitats. When the day came for me to come home, I nearly cried.

I am a New Yorker. My family is here. My friends are here. My career is here. My life is here. That’s what I’ve always told myself. But being what seemed like a world away, I realized that what I’ve been doing isn’t living. It’s getting by. I’ve been working to go out, and going out to forget about work. I worry too much about what I look like, how much I weigh, whether my locks are too frizzy, if my mascara is running. I lie awake at night fretting about how I’ll ever retire, if I’ll ever meet the right guy, if I’m living a righteous existence, who I might be letting down. I think about moving to Africa to work with orphans, traveling to Thai beaches to once and for all decompress, giving it all up – everything I’ve worked for to build and establish – to bartend on a remote island somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Why? What is it about being somewhere else that makes me like myself so much more than when I’m here?

Coming out of a particularly rough 2006, this trip in early 2007 couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed an opportunity to think. I needed to be away from everything known and familiar to really get to the heart of what I want from this life of mine, what I need to be happy, what I need to give back to the universe to assure that my life, when I leave it, was not meaningless. And sure enough, what I realized was that no matter how far you go, you follow yourself everywhere. The scenery was different, but I was still me. Those 2006 troubles that I was so eager to leave in New York when I boarded that plane accompanied me throughout my trip. My hair was only frizzier, and I still hadn’t met Mr. Right, and my finances – after a month of not working – were officially blown. So why did I need to go so far from home to figure out that I was no more closer to where I wanted to be? There is something about seeing the world around you – a world that you would have never otherwise seen before – that makes you better; more fulfilled; more whole. It makes you realize that real life is everywhere - not just in the small corner of the universe where I try to exist.

On a beach in Roatan I saw a little boy. He was so small, dressed in what looked like (from my chaise lounge,) a pair of lightweight pajamas. His cocoa skin luminous against the white sand and turquoise water. He got sand in his eyes, and he cried. He cried hard and long. The woman with him, who I assumed to be his mother, crouched down beside him and lifted his pajama top to wipe the grains from his face. And he took his shirt end from this woman, fetched those granules from his corneas and started to frolic. And then it happened again. But this time she watched from afar, as this little guy who couldn’t have been more than five, stopped his own tears, and quickly, by using his top, once again, to wipe the sand from his eyes so that he could continue to run and gallop and trance and saunter along the beautiful Honduran beach.

I watched this little boy, entranced by his adorableness, enveloped in his fun, intrigued by his independence, and I thought of something: no matter where we are we all learn to wash the sand from our eyes. That whether you’re on a dreamy beach in the Caribbean or a dreary sidewalk on the east side, at some point things are going to smack you right in the face and make you stop for a moment, but we all have the ability to somehow wipe them away and continue with our fun. And I realized that no matter how far I traveled or how long I ran, no matter how far I was from home, those grains of sand would follow me. And it was my job to wipe them away so that I could go on with my journey - which I hope will never end.


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1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story about Roatan.
I would invite you to submit it to www.Roatan.ws there is a "Submit Aritlce" link at the bottom of the page. My readers would really enjoy you.
Thank you
Bob Millsaps

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Loved this. Whenever I leave NY for somewhere beachy and exotic I feel this way. Would like to work at the same bar where Tom Cruise met Elizabeth Shue in Cocktail.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Leigh said...

Hey girl,
glad you're back with us in the blogosphere, and sorry to miss you this past weekend in NYC. I look forward to reading more about my lovely friend Jillicious!!!

PS: Love travel and distance and perspective it affords. Boy was I surly when I got off the plane from Tanzania!!

5:00 PM  
Anonymous gila said...

wow. great writing and great perspective. xoxo

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you like tropical birds?

12:12 PM  

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