I am...a New Yorker

[Previous entry: "Pulling Mussels from a Shell"]

Thursday, December 26, 2002
Trapped in a State of Imaginary Grace

Snow-covered trees glistening in the morning. Union Square was particularly majectic, I might venture downtown early for shrinkage and take some photos.

To the great mix CD Dorothy sent to me, to John Lennon's greatest hits and one of my favorite '80s songs, "Melt With You." I remember "Revolution" before it was a Nike jingle and "Melt With You" before it was a Burger King ad. Fuck, I'm old.

Cookies and fudge.

Roasted chicken, rice, peas & carrots, potatoes and cookies on Christmas at my coworker P's apt in Sunnyside, Queens.

In snow with leather pants and my all-black (canvas) Chucks. Not good, not good at all.

"Don't Be Shy" by Cat Stevens in the opening of Harold and Maude and remembering why that should be my mantra.

I am...an NYC blogger

I am...looking forward to cat-sitting for R during the first two weeks of the new year. I dig his apartment, it is more home to me than any place I've actually paid to live in New York. There's a warmth and coziness to it.

I like to cook or lounge around, daydreaming that the place is mine. At the end of a long day, it is my refuge. I like eating on my own schedule and not planning my entire life around meals for fear of missing one and having to spend some money.

I'm like That Girl.

Mine is a simple dream, I suppose, but one I like to steep myself in. I need a small, simple apartment of my own again. The other night, I had K over and told him I felt such a complete rebel just because I had alcohol, candles and a man upstairs -- these are verboten in my building. It's getting ridiculous at this point.

. . .

I awoke around 9:30 on Christmas morning, but snuggled under the covers for another half an hour or so. I was a little bit bummed about being alone on Christmas. At first, I thought this would not be such a problem, because I've done it many times before, right? Actually, I went to Indiana for Christmas last year and in '98 (the last Christmas with Dad), was in California for 2000, mom and The Boy came to NYC in '99.

I can only think of one Christmas in San Francisco on which I didn't make it to SoCal, but I spent it cooking with good friends and saw my favorite movie (Harold and Maude) at my favorite theater (The Red Vic) on my favorite holiday.

Anyway, I didn't anticipate it being a sad thing and was a bit taken aback by feeling so alone, even if that's my natural (and generally preferred) state of being. So I moped and listened to music for a bit.

. . .

On Tuesday evening I stumbled upon a John Lennon greatest hits CD in R's 50+1 CD player shortly before K arrived. There was once a card with all the album titles and their order in the player written down, so one could make informed selections, but I've no idea if R still has it or has updated it. So it's happenstance to find something I am in the mood to hear, really. This particular collection starts with "Give Peace a Chance" and "Revolution," includes "Imagine" and has about half of Double Fantasy.

That is one of my favorite albums ever. Indeed, it was the first real album I owned, unless one counts The Muppet Movie soundtrack or Sesame Disco. As an aside, I still have those records somewhere and am not above singing along with "Me Left Me Cookie at the Disco" or trying to follow Grover's 3 step dance routine (in a white, polyester, leisure suit at a disco, a la John Travola) on the album's inside spread. Moreover, what is "The Rainbow Connection," if not a children's version of "Imagine?"

Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me
All of us under its spell

So many memories.

At any rate, I was glad to find that Lennon CD, one I own myself, in Rob's player. Although I own Double Fantasy as well (on 8-track and CD), I like listening to the greatest hits because it skips the Yoko songs altogether. The original album alternates between John and Yoko. It was particularly a pain in the ass on the 8 track.

I vividly recall snagging that album out of my mother's collection 22 years ago. I did this so many times, she finally bought the 8 track copy, so I could have my own. I listened to that album for hours on end, Yoko and all. I particularly liked "Watching the Wheels" and "Clean Up Time" (the latter seems to me a bizarre omission from the greatest hits, I'd chose it over "Losing You" or "Jealous Guy" any time). So many years later, the poignancy of this verse from "Beautiful Boy" stabs at my heart:

Out on the ocean
sailing away
I can hardly wait
to see you come of age
But I guess we'll both
just have to be patient
'cause it's a long way to go...

Yet it was not to be.

On Christmas afternoon, after opening my present from Dorothy and eating the last of my chicken, mushroom parmesean frittata, I could not get out of the apartment, for listening to this wonderful music. I needed it, too. I needed to check in and get in touch with myself. All of this time, I've searched for a religion, ritual, a practice. Ironically enough, my parents did not inflict one on me, but left me free to chose my own. Bless them for that and for teaching me tolerance. I have sampled here and there, but not found anything that excited me, that made me feel alive.

I stood there, thumb hooked in the front pocket of my leather jeans, the silver ring covered in letters (yet forming only one word, "raw") that L gave me for my birthday exposed. I stared out the window at the back of R's apartment as the snow fell on that glorious white Christmas afternoon. I sang for all my voice was worth and perhaps a bit more. In that simple, solitary moment I realized, no remembered, my spirituality was right there in front of me all along.

I don't need confession, conversion, meditation or yoga. I need to make time, daily, to listen to the songs I love and sing along. I sing without thinking as I walk around the streets and feel the rhythm of this great city, propelling me along. It makes me feel connected -- mind, body and spirit. I forget my troubles for a little while, no matter how sad the song. What is lifting my voice to heaven, if not a form of prayer?

[Next entry: "Walkin' on Sunshine"]
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