It’s garbage day in Queens and it smells like sour milk outside. It’s July and it’s hot. It’s a Monday, only I’m not at work like I should be because I took a sick day, only I’m not sick. Just tired.
In the morning I went to pick up a package from the post office. I waited in line for half an hour and they had sent my package back. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath so I wouldn’t get excessively frustrated like I tend to do. Walking back home down I street I’d never been on before, I realize two things
1) I love Astoria, and
2) I have to leave New York.
I’ve been dreaming up exit strategies and googling statistics about other cities. Mostly things like “cheaper cities than New York” and “city with highest concentration of non-douchey men.” All of them seem so far away which is a tempting thought but a bitter reality. I found that out last year when I moved to Los Angeles. At this time last year I had packed up my car and driven home. Four days in the car alone not eating or sleeping, just driving. My car broke down twice. Once in Fruita, Colorado, the second somewhere in Iowa. In the motel rooms I discovered Celebrity Ghost Stories, a glorious gem of a basic cable show that fed my sleep-deprived, stress-ridden state like hot soup on a winter’s day. I digress. When I got home I collapsed on the carpet in my living room and flapped my arms and legs as if I were making snow angels.
I’m trying to pretend things are better than they really are today. It’s easy because I’m not a work, which is currently the biggest cause of strife. Post-grad life crises and all that. I have a month until I turn twenty-three and the disappointment caused by my current circumstances is overwhelming, at times even paralyzing. The mornings are easier than the nights.
But nobody likes a sad girl. That’s why my beloved Winona Ryder has faded into obscurity after that whole shoplifting debacle.
I’ve been relying heavily on sarcasm and a flimsy sense of humor.
My roommate, Abby, has the day off, too. We brainstorm things to do. We land on painting the living room. We decide on a light orange, very light, like almost a peachy…whatever. We walk to the Home Depot, 15 blocks in the sweltering heat muttering prayers for a breeze under our breaths. We pick out the paint, the brushes, the tape, the spackle to fix the holes. We walk back those 15 blocks with the bags and a gallon of paint each. We collapse onto the floor in the living room. If it were carpet instead of hardwood I would flap my arms and legs as if I were making snow angels.
I finish taping off the ceiling when the landlord decides he doesn’t want us to paint. I assume it’s because he’s conservative and we’re two young women. It’s like I have a superpower or something; I smell sexism! I get to a level 7 upset about the wasted money because my problems are always written in dollar signs. Abby gets to a level 6 upset about not getting our apartment painted and looking nice. She had a vision of drinking a bottle of white wine in our “orange sherbet” living room at 10 o’clock tonight. Expectation…reality. We choose to laugh about it so we don’t cry about it. About our ugly walls. About our inability to change them, or anything for that matter.
I say, “I need to be positive so I don’t kill myself.”
She replies, “So dramatic. Dramatic, dramatic.”
So I go, “Yeah, well.”
We decide to watch a scary movie. I pick my favorite scary movie, The Orphanage, a Spanish horror film that makes it impossible for me to sleep without a nightlight (yes, I still have one, no, I don’t care that you’re judging me). While watching it Abby clutches the blanket, the cat. I have an epiphany…we should have watched a more light-hearted movie. This was not a rational, well thought-out decision. This was rash! Much like the painting. When the credits roll, Abby looks at me,
“Well, that was sad. And disturbing.”
I say, “Did you like it?”
She said, “I would have liked it better in a room with orange sherbet walls.”
I laugh, “The real tragedy here isn’t about those dead people, it’s the fact that our walls are not the color of a fruity and delicious frozen treat!”
We go into our separate bedrooms and the reality of returning to work hits me like a Keanu Reeves driven bus. The unpleasantness of responsibility reattaching itself to my brain cells like little leaches. I’m dramatic. Though really, my job is unpleasant.
There are many things wrong here.
It’s true. I’m in an abusive relationship. With New York City. It hurts me. Physically. It exhausts me. It puts me down. It makes me feel too badly about myself to leave. But when things are good here, there is nothing better.