A Small Crack in the Writing Block

Cripes. It’s been three plus weeks since I’ve written anything. Anything at all, save for several weepy tracts on why New York City is driving me to total despair. At the very bottom of this despair pit I decided to myself, “Fuck it. I’m leaving New York.” And just with saying that, it was like a black cloud lifted and I felt better. I told a few of my friends, and they were supportive, if somewhat hesitant. I had only a vague idea of going out to the desert in the southwest, and no idea of how might get a job or secure myself some friends. But still I felt better. I felt like I was making progress.

Then, as quick as the decision came, I woke up at 3am on a Tuesday night and had an anxiety attack/revelation. See, I felt this same way before, about two years back while living in Paris. I hated it. I was lonely, out of place, and developing a troubling relationship to $2 bottles of white wine (red left tell-tale stains on my tongue). Sometime in the early spring, about 9 months into my stay, my mom was there for work and a visit. The weather was just beginning its turn into spring, so all the tables were set up outside the cafés, and I would sit shivering in patches of chilly sunlight. I was crying constantly. My mother finally said, and I remember it well – we were at a corner café outside the Pompidou and I wanted to see a show there but she was tired and irritable huddled in her too-thin coat (and I think I was crying inexplicably) – she said, “Why don’t you just go back to New York? You don’t have to stay here. Just go back.”

I had had this idea in my mind that I wanted to stay a year. I had a date, July 1st 2002, fixed in my mind as the day I was to leave, as if it was my release date from prison. And in early March that date seemed like two lifetimes away. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could cut out early, that I could jump the wall and disappear back into my old life before spring hit New York. It took a few minutes of digestion, but I got it. I would leave, and suddenly the air felt warmer, the sun brighter, and everything better.

My last month in Paris was the second best of my time there. The best being the second month I was there, August-ish. The hopelessness lifted. I had a limited number of days to take advantage of. I reclaimed my status as a visitor to the city, instead of a prisoner of it. I visted the South. I saw Berlin. I went shopping. I ate at my favorite restaurants with renewed relish. Then I came home to Brooklyn, and after a few months of happiness, the old malaise set in.

And what I realized last week is what I realized about my escape from New York to Paris, my subsequent escape back to New York, and my current dreams of escape to New Mexico – none other than the old cliché that you can’t run away from yourself. Which is at this point (and was then), what I’m trying to do.

As devastating as that is to my desert plans and the temporary happiness they provided, I am a little comforted at having stripped away at least one thin layer of The Problem That is Me. Stay tuned for breaking updates.

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