Isn’t that the cliché?
I wrote a sappy paragraph about New York but (you’re welcome) deleted it. A two-month silence on this blog shouldn’t end with a whine. Besides, there’s very little to whine about.
I live in New York City as of eight days ago, attending a seminary every Christian I respect respects. The school is old and beautiful and populated with wonderful people. I have my cat with me, good physical and psychological health, and part-time work doing something I enjoy. I’ve been talking to my family, even my mother, on a weekly basis, and leaving Oregon instilled in me the divine sense that I am deeply loved. Teenage girls and the marketers who cater to them stripped the word “blessed” of any meaning, so I’ll say I’m in a stage of life where joy seems to be the only appropriate response.
And I am, for the most part, brimming with joy. I walked to Central Park yesterday to read a book of poems. I chose a bench near a pond where ducks bobbed through patches of algae, fish leapt up at dragonflies mating, and two sets of French children stopped to point out a rat that every few minutes darted from and back into a bush along the shore. It was a scene Meg Ryan would describe to Tom Hanks in a sexually-charged You’ve Got Mail e-mail. God. Thanks.
(I’ve been reading Anne Lamott in secret since I arrived here. I don’t know that Union would frown at this, but I tend to trust my shame in the rare moments it pops up. Even if I hide her behind Flannery O’Connor on my shelf, I treasure Lamott’s candor and good humor. The second of her three essential prayers is “Thanks,” which I’ve repeated to myself continually throughout the past week.)
So I’m well! And if I ever don’t sound well during the next three years, consider it a cognitive indiscretion: I must’ve forgotten where I am.
Or I remembered where I was.
A year and some months ago I wanted to leave Oregon, find work, any work, in San Antonio, and die as a spinster with a few old college friends. I was lonely and anxious, no longer in love with my crazy ex but not fully recovered from him either. Then I made two wonderful friends, dated some, and resolved to apply to seminaries and divinity schools on the east coast, where my favorite college professor and occasional guru predicted I would thrive. And then, at a lewdly-named dance party, I met a guy whom I dated for eight months, and with whom I eventually fell in love.
He deserves a blog series all to himself, and he’s been promised a long, genre-bending piece I started before I left. I won’t say much else now, except that leaving Oregon was painful in the necessary way life often is—as putting an arthritic dog to sleep, or choosing which photographs to save from a hurricane. I cried and cried. I left him and too many dear friends to name, and a therapist who might as well have been a sage, and one of those rare churches that makes you proud to call yourself a Christian, and a state where I entered as a dumb, dumb, lovestruck kid and became, if not an adult, at least a more realized individual and upright citizen.
Teenage girls, damn it, I’m blessed in this school and in New York. To come here at the cost of everything I left behind is no curse, but the loss does temper the joy. It dulls those sharp scenes in the park, in my little 300-year-old room where my cat spends his days asleep or hunting flies near the window, and in a refectory full of interesting, thoughtful peers. The joys of New York are great, but they’re changed joys from those I knew in Oregon. To write it all out helps. I am grateful to be here, and grateful for the joys and love in Oregon. They aren’t dead, and this isn’t a tragedy, just a change.