On A Monday
guess what you eat on a monday
A: under pants
One time when I was drunk…
…I downloaded an entire Sleigh Bells album to my iPhone, and I keep it in my shuffle rotation to remind myself not to do that anymore.
Am currently stuck in a Sisyphisian cycle wherein I am scooping peanut butter out of a jar with some pita and I am getting full, except that I keep dropping bits of pita in the peanut butter and having to scoop them out with more bits.
A Thing About Me:
Nonfiction on the subway, fiction before bed.
I’m currently aboard an Amtrak Acela train, taking up two seats, on my way from my home in Boston back to my tentative, tenuous, irresistible home in New York. I’ve been living like I’m on the lam, squatting in friends’ houses and paring down my belongings until everything I have fits in a canvas backpack and the smallest suitcase I could find. I’m buying clothes secondhand and giving away books when I finish them. I’m choosing to do what I want, what I have a vague inkling with no real proof is right, over what I should.
I came back to go to Festival Day, which is the culmination of the four-week camp session at the Charles River Creative Arts Program in Dover. It’s where I went for five years and then worked for four, and it’s where my brother Matthew (he was Matt for a while but our sister and I never listened) attended as a camper his whole childhood. This was his last summer. He played a goat detective in a musical written by some friends of mine, entitled “Follow Your Hooves,” and he played a vast array of instruments in a variety of bands. One was called “The Lithuanian Synchronized Running Team” and I’ve never seen him look so relaxed and part of a community and in the moment as on that stage.
It’s funny, because I spend a lot of time, energy, and pages (digital and otherwise) writing about myself. It’s how I parse my feelings; it’s how I put a button on an experience. I’ve written about boys I like and rashes I can’t identify and sometimes I say too much and too wrong and too loudly. But I’ve never been able to write about camp. It was, maybe is, the most monumental thing-place-people in my life, and for that reason I’ve barely attempted to wrap my arms around it. It was where I found my first solid group of friends, met my first boyfriends, and learned that I need to live a life where I’m constantly making things.
While at CRCAP, I played a girl with a beard in a musical called “Harrie” (the title role, incidentally), and then I taught yoga and showtunes to eight-year-olds who half the time just wanted to play Freeze Dance, and I watched daily as my peers and my students and my open, kind little brother got up on stage and were delighted and unafraid in front of hundreds. Sometimes (a lot of the time) a Taylor Swift duet would run too long or a karate demonstration would go awry, but that didn’t matter. In fact, it strengthened the sense that you couldn’t ever really be wrong. There is an ease to camp; we do this because we do. We love it, but we don’t examine it too hard, to pull it apart and try and figure out how it ticks. We keep the magic intact.
It’s only recently that I’ve realized that I’m still carrying it with me. CRCAP has been the blueprint for all my places. I’ve looked for that camaraderie, that warmth, that sense that even if you mess up it’s okay, you’ll try again and also look at that new thing you accidentally created, in my schools and in my cities. Sometimes it’s in the people; sometimes it’s in the day-to-day work. And more than that, I’m starting to try and bring it with me too. At Vassar, at Columbia, in Brooklyn and in South Boston and in whatever 8 by 10 bedroom I next find myself renting, I will give everything I have to live deliberately and with purpose and wonder.
I saw Patti Smith a few weeks ago. I hadn’t read Just Kids (I’ve now corrected that egregious oversight) or even heard much of her music, but there was a free reading at the Brooklyn Bridge Park so the girl I was staying with and I set off. Patti was next level; she gave a passionate, articulate performance without ever seeming to perform. She was casually brilliant. And she ended her rapid-fire set with this one poem, recited from memory, that I’m sure I would recognize if I knew her work better. It ended with this line:
“And I will travel light.”
Even though it won’t be for another month, summer is over. This summer of losing so many people and gaining so many too, of rooftops, of wine product, of too much air conditioning and not enough, of connections, of feeling into the corners of who I am and coming up with surprising finds and a sense of open, lofty space. I’ve gone home and recharged for a few days, and now it’s time. I’m departing and arriving. I’m accepting, even inviting, the distinct possibility of failure, and the even more distinct possibility that nothing will look the way I’ve imagined it. I’m traveling light.