What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Monday, October 3, 2016

I was a little anxious for some reason. A little unsure, a bit worried if I would remember how to… do everything.  I kept telling myself that it was nonsense…it’s just like it always was. It will feel just like it always did. It will feel…like magic. 

And it only took one glance at that magnificent skyline as I drove into the city to know that my anxiety was misplaced; my doubts were foolish. There she was, in all her beauty, always taking all of our breaths away-my favorite place. New York City. 

As my foot touched the pavement when I stepped out into the night, it understood. It knew where we were. It felt as though every day that had passed since my last visit melted away; it didn’t matter. I was back. The whole of my body understood. My soul understood. I know that sounds hopelessly corny, but it’s helplessly true. I felt like I was home. It has alway felt like coming home.

I happen to live in a beautiful place, a Beach Paradise, and I adore it. The sight of the Pacific Ocean each day is equally irreplaceable to the sight of the New York skyline. The sight of My Children with their tanned little bodies so comfortable with the ocean, so pleased with their salty, sandy lips, so happy to be living where most people only vacation, is something this native Iowan girl never takes for granted.  

But that Beach Paradise where I reside does not reside in my soul. It does not get under my skin. I never laid awake as a little girl, night after night, dreaming of this beach life. I laid awake night after night, chasing the chance of New York City. I got my chance and I loved every second of living there. Even in the pouring rain or the freezing snow. In the crunch of Autumn. The sweat of Summer. The sweetness of Spring. I loved it all. It’s not always an easy place to live. It can be dirty and tiring and claustrophobic. Your body longs for space and less movement. Also, New Yorkers can be downright arrogant assholes about their city. They wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. At times you wonder to yourself if they’re even aware that there are many more parts to America than the island of Manhattan. (I have to say though, having lived on each coast, the East and the West are both guilty of this particular crime. The sight of a rolling cornfield on a September day in the bright midwest sun is a glorious thing to behold. Every place has it’s own beauty. All you have to do is pay attention.) 

While in New York last week, I was playfully calling my days there my Pretend Life. After all, I was there alone, my kids were being well taken of, I had no agenda, I had no commitments. I did what I wanted. I had surprise encounters and met interesting people. I saw old friends and current friends. Made some new Instagram friends. I strolled what felt like every block in that city, loving and remembering how each block, each neighborhood has it’s own life; it’s own heartbeat; it’s own routine. I felt playful. I felt sexy. I felt fun. I felt open. I felt strong. I felt confident.  Surely this was Pretend Life. Real Life would be waiting for me soon enough, let me take in this fantasy just a little bit longer. Let me live in this place just a little bit longer….

I drove back to the airport. And as much as I could really, really not wait to see the faces of my Two Beautiful Children, as much as I wanted to feel their arms around me and kiss their sweet cheeks, I started to deflate, bit by bit. Real Life can still be Real Hard right now. I got Real Shit to deal with. Real Life Changing Shit to deal with. I boarded the plane. Real Life was coming back whether I was ready or not. Real tears were filling my eyes. Real anxiety held it’s grip. Stop, I tell myself. I plead with myself. Take this week as what it was-a gift. A true gift. Don’t leave that girl who felt so free and fun and playful in New York. Take her back to the Beach Paradise. It’s okay if you don’t always feel like you belong there, that you’re an outsider looking in. It’s okay if you don’t know what Real Life has in store. It’s okay that you’re taking the long, windy road to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. It’s okay. 

It. Will Be. Okay.

After all, Real Life in Beach Paradise has given me so much. I could never regret being here. I never will. It’d be impossible to ever regret the gifts, the relationships, the experiences I have in my life because of this place. But that sly, little magical place called New York City…well. I will never regret the way it makes me feel. I will never regret having it live in my heart and my soul for…ever. 

It’d be impossible.