Tag Archives: stress

bookcase 2000

This was my bookcase in Astoria, early 2000, shortly before I packed up and moved to Uzbekistan. View it larger for all the little details, if you’re given to that sort of thing. Less clutter in my place now. Less stuff in general—fewer spectacles, cameras, letters, paper, etc. Okay, maybe the same number of cameras. But more things I love.

Oh, moving. Illness and grief aside, what’s harder? I’m packing up again for the first time in seven years, packing up the first place that has ever been a real home. I don’t own much stuff, considering, but what I do own, I love. Packing away photos, books, and negs to sit, homeless, in boxes does not feel nice at all. Oh how I resist change, even when much needed. Slowly, but surely.

out of new york (please get me)

My biggest concern about Sri Lanka was that I wouldn’t come back refreshed. Instead, I’d come back, exhausted, to work and teaching, and to start another teacher training. Could I really fly for two days just for the beach? But if I travelled the hill country and Buddhist ruins on my own the last week (Andrea would travel later) it could be terribly tiring, and then the long flights home. Yet I couldn’t imagine going that far just for the beach, and ignoring the rest of the amazing country. Oh well. I’d decide when I got there, I figured. I needed a break, a break from work, from teaching, from my routine, and from NYC. And I wanted to be in the ocean with Andrea.

Rocky Point, Tangalle
Rocky Point, Tangalle

I raced to get everything ready in six days. On the flight I was relieved to be out of the city for a while. I’m so tired of New York. I’m not a hipster. I do not care. I hate the ubiquitous ads. I hate the weather. I hate the MTA (I used to love the subways, and of course, my bus drivers). I especially hate the ads on the outside of our subway cars. I hate the noise. I especially hate the noise my neighbors make, the noise of my neighbors on the train with ipods blaring and the noise of my tone-deaf, retired-pharmacist neighbor who has taken up the violin and asserts his legal right to hack at it between the hours of 8am and 10pm (“I know. I’ve been taken to court,” he once informed, at 7:56am on a Sunday).

But most of all, I hate the sameness of it. I’ve walked these streets so many times. Nothing feels new, nothing surprises. This might sound like sacrilege to some, and I realize I might be slamming the only place I’ll ever feel truly at home, but I need some space if I’m going to appreciate it again.

That wasn’t provided on the flight out. I think every movie on offer, and there were over 20, was based in New York and sought to glorify it in some way. Ugh! I watched one, and then a bit of a documentary about the French guy who tightrope-walked between the World Trade Center towers in the 70s. I’d heard him on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” a few weeks earlier. Yes, you’re right. It’s my favorite show. Out of Chicago.

The situation was the same on the way back home. When I walked the streets of NYC via the tiny screen wedged into the seat in front of me on my crowded Kingfisher flight from Bangalore to London, I thought, “That place…that place looks like a great place to visit. But to live there? What a mess.”

Rani, at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, Kegalle, Sri Lanka
Rani, at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, Kegalle, Sri Lanka

Unfortunately, I think that about most places, including those I’d just visited.

I did rest a bit. And I traveled the hill country with Andrea (he left Silent Beach early to come with me), which was beautiful. The flight home was long and the jet-lag still lingers. And yes, I was back at work, teaching, and the full catastrophe within ten hours of my arrival. But Sri Lanka was amazing. It was a wonderful trip and I’m so glad I went. But I did come back still needing rest. How do we, why do we, all go on this way?

More to come.

{June 2009 update: Okay, I love NY. We have a strained relationship at times, but I love it. Could use a break, but yes, the love is real.}