I love you under the rain and under the clouds and after midnight on Tuesday nights. I love you at lunchtime and on Sunday mornings before the hung-over crawl out from under their bed-sheets. I love you even and sometimes especially when I don’t, forgiving you your excessive escalators and stale Saturday winds.
I ignored you when we met. Skinny from silliness and afraid of everything, you were too wild for me, full of chatter. Five years later I hauled my suitcase up the stairs in Tirso de Molina. There was a light rain falling. Men were shouting and selling: paragua, paragua, paragua! I was lost but didn’t care. I would remember this moment for many months, especially while listening to shitty guided meditations. We stayed in a one room studio in Arganzuela. For three nights a madwoman banged trashcans and howled “Arabian Nights” beneath the window.
In August you were deserted. Queens with pencil-thin eyebrows smoked in doorways and danced chotis and I couldn’t stop smiling. The metro back was empty but for one sleeping woman. I looked up at the ceiling in my airport hotel and wondered what was wrong with me.
In September I had a bed and nowhere to rest my head. Waking up to you made me happier than I’d been for a long time. Sure I was lonely but I was also awake. Friends and strangers came and went. Gran Vía was a trap. I stumbled through January. Some nights the windows shook.
Last March, J asked what was wrong with me: why did I have to walk so far if the metro was right in front of us? It must have been one of those early Spring days, still cold enough for a coat, everybody falling in love. It took me seventy-five minutes to get home and I listened to Nino Bravo most of the way. Here he is, singing his way down the Paseo del Prado:
And there I was, trying real hard not to spread my arms out and sing right along with him. Maybe I should have. I’m here now only because I decided to honor impulse, after all. One year later and many are the afternoons that I still feel like singing up and down your hills.
Anyone with the financial security to believe in choice will tell you that you should model your life’s work after the thing that makes you forget about time. It’s called flow. I have a problem, though. I get immersed in many things and not a one of them has proven very lucrative (yet). Like, I could spend days just…
Writing about the mundane events of my daily life
Lip-syncing to the RuPaul playlist
Sketching at a first-grade level
Thinking about what it would’ve been like to have lunch with Oliver Sacks
Helping children write skits
Pretending to be a lifestyle guru
Sitting in a cinema with a bag of peanut m&ms, crying quietly during a heartbreaking scene (like when Marion Cotillard starts screaming Marceeeellllll! in La Vie en Rose)
Editing the soul-bearing personal statements of other people
Traveling alone to a place I’ve never been before
Watching a play and wondering what it’s like to be on stage
Watching people who actually know how to dance, dance
Starting a project
Walking with nowhere to go
Riding the same metro for longer than twenty minutes
Perfecting my Long Island accent
Reading old letters
Eavesdropping on people at cafes and in waiting rooms
So you see… I’m writing in lists lately. I apologize for that. It’s flow’s fault–the fault of it, really. It’s hard to flow when your brain is otherwise occupied with financial and logistical matters. I’m over here like Virginia, shouting all this lady needs is some money and a room of her own! Y’know, if Virginia were an American ESL teacher searching for a summer side-hustle.
You’re tired. You want to stop, but you can’t. Lattes and sunsets and quirky glassware flash before your eyes.
If your breakfasts aren’t beautiful… do you exist?
If you don’t read poetry in sunbeams, do you actually understand it?
If you go on vacation and don’t document every moment of it, if you don’t spread your arms wide for a photo opp in front of the sea, did you really go?
Is the cure for depression and anxiety as easy as reading a Top 10 Reasons to Live list?
Generalized Embarrassment About Ultimately Inconsequential Bullshit:
You just washed your hair with shower gel for the third day in a row (lifehack: shower gel and shampoo are almost the same thing–you won’t die if you substitute one for the other on a poor or lazy day/week/month).
There are three empty water bottles under your bed and the only explanation you can offer is “pure, unadulterated laziness.”
You drank a can of Diet Coke and ate a slice of bread “for dinner.”
You’ve never had a manicure.
You went to sleep with your asymmetrical eyeliner still on last night.
The socks on your feet don’t match.
You’d rather spend an afternoon in an old man bar than at Kelsey’s new vegan venture.
WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE DRINKING SO MANY LATTES?
Life doesn’t look like this! Life is gross! Life is that old guy at the dark convenience store (they’re trying to save on electricity) who walked in smoking a cigar, asking for change. Life is the waiter with gnarly body odor you had today. Life is Eileen Myles writing a poem called Peanut-butter that begins I am always hungry/ & wanting to have sex. Life is that lady laying on the ground at the Paseo de Prado. Life is watching a manchange into his Quixote costume. Fine, whatever, it’s gorgeous, too. Life is gorgeous, but it’s not made of pastels or lists or aerial shots of eggs Benedict.
You fell into a scroll-hole on a lifestyle blogger’s Instagram, didn’t you? Whatta dummy.
Go outside. Respect the lifestyle ladies and men, anyway, for working hard and making a living marketing lives that don’t look like yours does. They must wonder what the fuck? from time to time, too. But that doesn’t sell.