I leave for New York tomorrow, to-do list in hand. At the top of it, like the good Jew that I am: pork fried popcorn. Apparently that’s the draw to Spitzer’s Corner. That, and the homemade donuts. How fast can you say angioplasty? I don’t care. It’s rare that I’m able to indulge in such toothsome confections here in Austin. I’m actually not the biggest meat eater, aside from lamb, so all the brisket, ribs, and andouille sausage are kind of wasted on me. I was adding to my list today and reasoned a wine shop would not be completely outrageous. Italian Wine Merchants, in particular. Yes, just what I need: another thing to carry home. As it is there will be the laptop and bulky Nikon D300 SLR (I only say this because so many ask). I’m not entirely sure how I’ll fit everything in. Not just into my bod, or my schedule, but into my suitcase.
It wouldn’t be the worst idea to pack an empty bag inside my luggage tonight. My life used to be so much different. I actually bought a new top each time there was a birthday party to attend. Absurd. But it’s what I did, what my friends did, too. And now the birthday parties are in backyards with water wings and cakes in the shape of Dora. The other odd thing about anticipating going back is, I associate New York with being single. And it will be strange to be back and not have plans with a boy. No intimate meet-ups for wine, no butterflies in my stomach. As I said to a friend recently, “at least I won’t have to worry too much about what I wear now.” And it makes me sad in a way, to say goodbye to all I knew. The oddest bit is, I’ve never felt this before. Not when I first moved away, not when I returned with the babies, just now, returning alone for the first time. There’s a disappointment, a sadness, the way goodbye often is. Even though I’m saying hello again.
Lately I’ve been feeling anxious, missing, questioning my choices. Is Austin for me anymore? I don’t want to move back to New York City, but I’m missing something. Friends, family, the newness factor, where there are openings of new restaurants, where there’s an energy when you open your door, people walking places, not in circles around a lake (and the type that were always circling Central Park I avoided anyway). It’s also a feeling I’m sure to solve with some crusty bread and a glass of red. But if it snows while I’m in New York, I will surely weep. Until then, though, I will charge forward with my lists of eyebrow threading appointments, of drinking and laughing and sharing stories with the girls I love so. The pork popcorn is just confetti.
Though I must also confess, when I think of such celebrations, of drinking and parties and cab rides, scarves and braving the cold just one more block, I remember, so clearly, what it was to want, so desperately, to have someone with which to share it all. At celebrations, I’d get a little quiet, like something was hanging inside me. I’d pine for a man to roll my eyes with as someone inevitably did or said something inappropriate, especially when that someone was me. Proximity mattered. I didn’t want to share it over the phone, via text, or IM. I wanted someone to accompany me to a life I wanted to live. Not just someone to notice I was no longer in the room as the guests continued to file into a crowded apartment, but I wanted someone close, to watch the lights in apartment windows across the way, escaping to a terrace wondering about the lives of strangers feeding their cat or adjusting their TV (not that anyone does this, actually). To live and witness the quieter moments with me, in leans, and toasts, and lost footing because of how much wine I found. I wanted an escape from that party, where our moment mattered more than the one we’d come to celebrate. Where we’d create our own interesting story. The one we’d remember for the rest of our lives.
We’d awake hungover, and I’d say, “Now don’t kill me. I know I hate Chinese food, but how do you feel about dim sum? I know a place with good pork.”