Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I had it in my mind, this trip 'back East,' to measure my response to the place a bit more, to look at it with Tamar's eyes, to try and understand how it can be that someone with whom I connect in so many ways can have such a completely different take on New York City than do I.

I failed, miserably.

Maybe it was the fact that, during the five days I was there, the sun only briefly and only very occasionally pierced through the grayness blanketing the area. Maybe it was the typical-for-summer-but-not-usually-so-omnipresent humidity, which left me feeling suffocated with each and every sojourn outside, as if stepping into an instant panic attack.

But I tried. Really. I did. I went into Manhattan twice--once with the kids to see my father for the first time in four years (well, it was THEIR first time in four years; I've seen him once before, briefly), and once by myself to have lunch with an editor-friend for whom I'm doing an assignment. I saw lots and lots of family, spent time at my friends' home and at my sister's, held my two-month-old nephew for the very first time, even took a solo walk through my old neighborhood when I started feeling overwhelmed and 'moody.' There were moments of sweetness, but none of them connected to the place. The place felt grey and oppressive, like the air. It felt sad, and frenetic, and pretentious. It felt shabby and grimy and smelly. The more I reached, the more I tried, the shorter I fell in the attempt to recapture a feeling that I must have once had, a love for a place I'd lived in and grown in and made myself in. The more I tried, the worse I felt, until I finally gave up, feeling depressed and isolated.

Sunday, after playing baseball on a local junior high field near my sister's house on Long Island, we went to get a Slurpee at 7-11. I was sipping my drink as I left the store, only to be confronted by my sister's glare.

"Could you be any more from LA?" she said.

"What?" I responded, confused.

"That guy was standing there, holding the door for about an hour, waiting for you to wander through! You move so slowly, like you have all the time in the world. People here actually like to get in and out of the store, you know."

As she said this, a family jumped into the SUV parked next to my sister's car, and glared at her impatiently as she tried to buckle N into his car seat, then peeled out of the spot the second she'd closed the door.

"But it's 7-11!" I said. "Why the hell would anyone be in such a hurry to get into or out of a 7-11?"

She just shook her head at me and laughed, and I felt myself slip into a state of irritation that wouldn't leave me for the rest of the day. No more trying, I thought. It's just too hard. It's just not me.

And so, when I got off the plane yesterday in Ontario, about 45 minutes southeast of my house, I felt almost giddy. I was home. This place, I get. It's not the LA that people think of, but it's where I live, and it's the life I'm comfortable with, and if that means I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum from people whose opinions I share in so many other realms, so be it. As my mother would say, that's what makes horse races.

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