Memorial Day weekend used to be tied to the warm Rockaways sand, a sense of full freedom, nights walking the warm streets of Manhattan, serving drinks to rowdy three-day holiday party people, dancing to Pulp on the rooftop. I wish I could put my feet in the sand right now, and listen to the ocean, my children learning to appreciate and love her power as much as I do. One day we will be there again, an ocean or a sea, and this time it will be for good again.
There are days when I feel on top of the world, strong, powerful, capable of creating skyscrapers with my own bare hands. And then, the days where each footstep is wet mud, triple the weight and half the length. I try so hard to keep everything running at least the right way down the road (even if half the time we are swerving from side to side at 100 miles an hour, or creeping along in slow motion, hugging the outer lane). I try so hard that when a crack appears in the road I hop over it with my eyes closed and pull everyone forward. Or I did.
That has always been my technique: move on, keep on moving on. But I think it’s time to take more than one step back, examine the cracks, and trace them back to the fault. A crack may be a voice, a Lou Reed song in the dark, an outfit that looks frumpy. A crack may be a moment of weakness, eyes welling up with tears, an article I happen to read, a mean-spirited comment. It could be anything, my mind rewired in my younger years to see simple actions as threats: a full cup as a cause of fear. A song as a premise to a night of no sleep. The first day of school a punishment. The shopping bags that made my hands hurt, eyes on the next resting place, 20 more steps, keep on moving, you can make it.
It’s funny how some roads remain so strongly imprinted in your memory. They have probably changed dramatically over the years, but in your head you see each step, each corner, every mountain top. Some roads reappear suddenly in other places, where they should be out of place really, but instead blend in. To others they are just a street, a path, but to you the concrete is drowning in words, cascading feelings gushing down towards the overflowing drains.
An image of myself keeps flicking strobe light style in my mind. A hand brushing invisible people aside, the word “bor-ing” hanging from my lips, lit cigarette in the other hand. People still bore me in general, constantly running after something, after someone. Bandwagons aplenty line the street, only to break down, lose a wheel or two miles and miles from their destination. It’s OK, there is always another one to jump on, as long as you don’t mind crushing a few others in the mass race to something shiny, something new.
What happened to us? When did we forget the importance of every minute spent with loved ones? When did we lose the ability to stand still in a summer rain storm and appreciate the intense collision of water falling and heat rising? When did we stop appreciating the view with our eyes, instead searching for the perfect shareable moment, hashtag nofilter, sponsored, I’m so original? Yes, bor-ing. Having shrugged that strange need to share, instead keeping these moments for me and for us, I feel lighter, more days on top of the world, fewer moments of struggle. Instead I actually want to go further down that path, complete anonymity, disappear and reappear on the other side of the world, doing something more important than just waiting. Because waiting for something to change is even more boring than watching people clamber over each other to reach a non-existent summit.
I like to write short stories about the beach, running away, and starting over somewhere else. Some of them are online right here, others are still running around my mind and on the endless papers stacked on my desk. While running away from life in general is not something I entertain nowadays, running away from the race is.