Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dr. Seuss, the subway and my purple robe

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter,
and those who matter don't mind."

— Dr. Seuss

Call it a new season, call it a change of seasons, call it adventure or call it boredom … I always know when it’s time to write again. Perhaps it happens when I’m spending enough of my day alone that poetic (or banal) lines begin to dart through my subconscious like a stray cat… accompanied by the thought:

“you really should be writing this down”

So here I am writing it down.

You’ll have to forgive me. Since my last blog, which was, I believe, over 2 years ago, I can’t remember sitting down to just WRITE for a non-assignment related purpose.

I fear I am more than a bit rusty.

It’s Saturday night, 11:34 pm in the city that never sleeps. I’ve been sitting Indian style on my bed in my fluffy purple robe for the last hour, happy to be indoors, not regretting one bit my neglect of the late-night bar scene. Perhaps it’s an overdose of the non-specific human interaction or unproductive busyness (which is daily and inevitable), but when I come through the door of my temporary, 5th floor, upper-west-side apartment, I immediately take off my shoes, coat, jeans, sweater, purse, everything that smells like “out-there” and cozy up in my purple robe (possibly my favorite article of clothing on this planet), and sit Indian-style on my bed and begin click-clicking through facebook profiles and old emails.

I don’t recall behaving this way in the past.

Granted, I’ve only been here 6 days. Wait, has it been six? Maybe only 5. I arrived on Monday night with as many winter clothes as I could tote on the subway (the rest was shipped by my mother in a cardboard box). I was still recovering from an internal wound to my esophagus (I will spare you the details) which prevented me from eating food or drinking water without a great deal of pain. I made my way in the dusk to my temporary apartment, put away my few things, shed a few tears and brushed my teeth.

This is my new home.

How can that be?

It is a strange city, New York, when you’re not here as a temporary or tourist. I have always been mesmerized by the activity and drive of everyone in EVERY direction. But now that I know that I LIVE here, it just feels exhausting. “Where is home?”… I keep thinking. Where’s the place where you drive into the driveway, turn off the key and hear the ding-ding-ding when you open the door? You see the house lights on. Walk in the door (ground level) drop your bag, kick off your shoes and find your dad watching the 10 O’clock news.

None of that here. I’m lucky to see the lovely woman I live with twice a week in passing.

I’ve only been here 5 full days.

And in those 5 days, I’ve taken up the part-time job of a nanny while I look for something more “stable”.


Apparently I didn’t realize how attractive being 7th of 10 children with 18 nieces and nephews (and being raised without sugar on a farm) would make me to the young New York mother, who is also trying to resist the culture here and raise her children without white bread or television.

(Ok mom, so you were right after all. Apparently the world is beginning to catch on.)

So my life at the moment consists of picking up little girls from school and doing their hair into a perfect bun (on the bus) while we rush to ballet class, playing ambulance driver in the jungle gym and reading One Fish, Two Fish until my voice begins to crack… All of which are surprisingly decompressing activities compared to the flurry of the city. There’s something about being with children (and being paid to be present with them) in a city like this that is a type of salvation from all the serious thoughts about “what am I doing with my life”

But really... what AM I doing with my life?

There’s a lot of time in transit to think about such things. People watching is a given and deep and meandering thought about anything and everything is inevitable. As the subway todders you back and forth in the overpacked car, you bump between the business man’s elbow and the model’s $1200 purse and drone in and out of awareness. Staring off into space (which has always been an odd habit of mine), you start to think about every possible life you could have chosen. Wondering if I should have gone to school to be a Lawyer? Wondering what it would be like to live in one of those pent-houses on 5th ave? Wondering how it would feel to be a migrant worker and commute into Manhattan at 5am every day. You cannot avoid thinking about your life in a thousand different ways every time you board the train.

And the funny thing is, here I am around more people than I’ve ever met in my life and no one is even looking at each other! It’s like no one even SEES anyone! It’s the ultimate check-out... Every now and then I just want to scream:

“Hello everyone! Aren’t we all alive? Isn’t this real? Isn’t this life? WAKE UP!!!”

But that, of course, would never fly. So, like everyone else, I just watch nothing and think and check my day planner for the 7th time in the last hour. There has to be something I’m missing.

This is why it’s so relieving to don my purple robe at night and surf facebook.

Or write.


To be continued…



Lauren said...

i feel like i wanna always yell that on busses too so i just start talking to people that im around and try and get everyone involved...ha. it even worked in boston which was awesome. haha your life is gonna get so good. i just started a blog today too which is so funny. ill send u the link once i figure out how it works.

ashley said...

wow maggie, that was beautifully written. i could visualize everything! Keep writing. I love it. Believe it or not, you are inspiring me just even how you write and describing life as it is right now. I truly love it. I love you! You are doing good! one step at a time :)

bradleykylenelson said...

Love you Maggie. I am glad you are writing

Tom Allen said...


Your blog posts are like Haley's comet: a long time in coming, but worth the wait. Please do not make us wait quite so long.

Just tell the truth, and make it beautiful... as you always do.

Tom Allen said...


Your blog posts are like Haley's comet: a long time in coming, but worth the wait. Please do not make us wait quite so long.

Just tell the truth, and make it beautiful... as you always do.

Tom Allen said...

Déjà vu? NO!

A VERY bad stuttererer? No!

I am NOT responsible for my Comment posting twice. Computer demons!

(That word, “responsible”, makes me want to share, as I have so many times, the life-changing lesson that my friend, Maggie Ritchie, taught me about response-ability. Maybe another time.)

Ross said...

i love that you're a nanny.