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Whichever way the wind might blow

November 16, 2012

Several years ago, in a post I wrote as part of a blog chain on balance, I chafed a bit at the theme (as I often do with such things–I don’t like to be told what to do). I said that balance was overrated, but balancing was the interesting part. I pointed out my tendency to throw things out of balance for the purpose of finding balance gain. This was a glib post, written without a lot of planning or thought, but it may have been one of the truest things I’ve written about myself. As I struggle against the confines of my new situation in a new city, I try to remember this. Balancing is a lot harder when you’re trying to coordinate with others.

New York is a hard and relentless city sometimes Probably all the time. You survive by finding oases of safety, by stringing your own guy wires. New York demands both physical and mental strength. The payoffs feel huge because they are so hard won. I would like to see an episode of Survivor that takes place entirely in New York City. It would be a totally different kind of show. It would be hair raising.

When I was a child, living a few train stops outside the city, I remember watching the news as a slight Frenchman walked through the air between the two towers of the World Trade Center, armed only with a long pole to keep from falling. I wondered what it would be like to fall. Even more, I wondered what it would be like not to fall with the imminent possibility of falling. Living in New York is a little like that. It’s a constant awareness of not falling.

The problem with balancing as a process is that you have to have enough control to keep things from flying apart. when you step out into that vast empty space, you’d better know how to keep your feet on the wire. New York is a distracting place. I feel like I’ve been leaning a little too far to the left (what? You thought I’d lean to the right?) and now I’m having trouble maintaining my grip. I’ll find it again, but I need to concentrate.

Mostly, I think, it’s being too tired to put up a fight. I lost my vacation this year to the move, which was the complete opposite of relaxing. Next week we’ll drive back to Illinois for Thanksgiving with the part of our family that is panicky about our departure- the first time I haven’t cooked dinner since the year we had my grandmother’s memorial. I am looking forward to a long boring drive west. AJ is looking forward to playing football with his two best buddies. We are all wondering how it will feel to look at our house now that it’s no longer ours. We still feel the scars. Maybe we always will.

I don’t mean to be morose, just that life is more challenging than it was even at this time last year and certainly than the year before. It’s what I wanted, but it’s tiring. There’s good stuff too. I’m really enjoying the small signs of the impending holiday season. The tree is up outside Macy’s in anticipation of next week’s parade. The PETA protesters have set up shop in front of the furrier’s near my office with their shiny new signs. The person who lives in the apartment opposite my office window has entwined her balcony in little white lights. The invitation to the company holiday party came yesterday. AJ has started making lists and wondering where in our overstuffed apartment we can squeeze a tree.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2012 12:43 pm

    I’m not cooking dinner either, for the first time in a very long time. At first I was upset, but as I thought about it I became quite happy about it. I’ll go for a walk, or lie on the couch and knit. Anyway, moving is hard. I am sure it is not easy to live in New York. But I think you’ll find a new balance. (Also, why on earth are they panicking? Are they panicking about NY in general, or the trip west? Neither of those things seems remotely panic-worthy. I’m in a huff, but I realize it’s in response to panic-ers in my own family. Don’t listen to them. Hmmph.)

  2. November 17, 2012 9:29 am

    You are very brave. I can’t imagine being able to do what you are doing.

  3. annanotbob permalink
    November 17, 2012 6:44 pm

    A long, boring car ride sounds perfect – a pool of stillness. Thank you for sharing your memory of seeing that guy on the wire. A few years ago I was at The Big Chill festival to see Leonard Cohen. I’d fallen off a step and badly damaged my ankle and the only way I could keep jolly and move about was to get off my face. Eventually I decided it was time for bed and set off up the long hill to the camp site. The organisers had set up a giant screen at the bottom of the hill, so when I sat down half way, to gain my breath (OK, to have a smoke), I was drawn into an astounding film about a French guy who decided to tightrope walk between the twin towers. I had NO IDEA if this was a documentary or fiction – man, the things we’ve seen on screens these days, they can make us believe ANYTHING! I watched through to the end, alternating between hoping it was true and knowing it couldn’t be. It was fabulous – so intense. I am beyond thrilled to have what I see as final evidence that it was all true.

  4. edj3 permalink
    November 18, 2012 4:16 pm

    “It’s what I wanted, but it’s tiring” perfectly describes me over these last six months. I will toast you on Thursday.

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