“You’ve been writing only intermittently,” she wrote me the other day, “but I’ve been working on the assumption that’s because you’re doing more living than navel-gazing, which seems to me to be a good thing, overall.”
Well, yes. Everything is fine here.
It’s beginning to finally be summer, and I’ve worn skirts to work two days out of the past four. In fact some of the people in my office, including me, went to the beach at Scorching Bay about two o’clock this afternoon; I brought my bathing suit to work with me in anticipation of this event. I poked around in the tide pools, as is my wont, and looked at some beautiful boys and their beautiful tattoos through the screen of my stupidly and satisfyingly enormous sunglasses. It was really hot as I walked home and I immediately lay down on my bright soft bed in a warm sunny oblong for a pre-dinner nap. When I woke up I was drenched in sweat and I thought, Uh oh, how am I going to deal with traveling in Asia? I pride myself on how good I am at taking the heat but the truth is I haven’t been to Florida in the summer for at least six years and I don’t know if I’ve still got what it takes to survive temperatures that do not require multiple layers of sweaters and socks.
I’m going on a little trip to the Marlborough Sounds this weekend, staying in my friend Deirdre’s hometown of Picton. I haven’t taken the InterIslander, yet and am weirdly excited about it, even though it means getting up eeeeearly on Saturday, to get the bus to the train station and then the shuttle to the ferry terminal. I hope to go kayaking while I’m there, and to explore a little bit of a new part of the country. Almost every part of this country is new for me, although some things are becoming more familiar after the last couple of months. “You haven’t been on the ferry yet?” asked my incredulous co-worker this afternoon on the beach on the way back from getting ice cream at Chocolate Fish. “I haven’t been anywhere,” I retorted. “I’ve been at work.” This isn’t completely true but it’s a little more true than I’d like. What’s also a little more true than I’d like is how quickly time inches by, day by day, week by week. Time that I could not imagine this time last year has trickled away into anecdote. “When I was first here,” I say, telling a story. When I was first here is, inexplicably, un-suddenly, not the same time as now.
I have been thinking about time a lot lately, and about happiness, and about fate, and about happiness some more. “Be open to whatever comes your way,” some people tell me. “Be in charge,” say others. I try both of those tactics but it’s unclear what I’m trying for so I don’t know which one of them works. Lately I’ve been writing nothing but lists in my paper journal: things I need, things I have, things I should do, things I should avoid. I can’t string together a sentence but I can certainly bullet the hell out of some points. What it all shakes down to, though, is: I want something to change. I want something big to change: inside or outside, I can’t tell, but it’s itching under my skin every day in a mostly bearable fashion, a congenial parasite of formless desire. How? How? What? How?
“I know I haven’t been writing much,” I replied. “The stuff I’m really thinking about is navel-gazing in the extreme.”
[Can I stay here longer, can I get the visa even though I’m almost thirty-two. What will I do about money. Can I go to some new places and try some new things before I have to go home. Since when did going home become a “have to.” Will anyone even remember who I am when I go back. Can I find good work, can I find good people, can I find a good place. Am I too comfortable in my routine. Is it wrong to want to spend so much time alone. Is it wrong to just want to walk around the city, along the edge of the beach, thinking about things, watching myself over my shoulder. What am I doing wrong, and how do I live right.]
I meant to clean my room and do some laundry tonight, to get ready for my trip across the straits this weekend. Instead there are shoes and magazines and hair ribbons and containers of floss strewn merrily across the floor. Two paragraphs ago I got up and took out the three bags of rubbish I’d guiltily amassed over the past couple of days. I made penne with sautéed zucchini with garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper for dinner, just as I do about every week; I suspect my last meal, were I able to choose it, would involve pasta and some sort of squash. I am reading Margaret Atwood’s new-to-me book and part of the reason I wrote this entry tonight–originally I had intended to write about my yogurt maker– was so I wouldn’t get through it too quickly, so that I could finish it snuggled up in bed with my reading light on. I think my tea mug didn’t get completely rinsed in the dishwasher—there was a sort of salty taste on the rim and I wonder if there is still a residue of hippie-compliant biodegradable detergent on there. I was too lazy to wash out the cup and make some new tea, though, so I drank most of it and now there’s a weird taste in my mouth. It’s hippie-compliant, though, so I shouldn’t get too poisoned, right? That’s what I told myself the last time this happened. I think tomorrow will be a new skirt day. I need a drink of water now, there’s definitely a weird taste in my mouth.
“I don’t think that’s very interesting reading,” I wrote her, “and it’s not even very interesting writing, to be honest.”