If I could go back, just a few months, I’d say to myself, do not to take the Greenwich Village Apartment. The air just outside will smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke. Always, it will. Within two months you’ll have bed bugs. And within four, your hands will shake when you reach the landing of the second floor. Your impulse will be to make yourself small, to take up the least amount of space as possible--just to get through it. But the last time you did this you were eighteen and went on to lose the next six years of your life to an eating disorder. So you’ll be on guard against this thought--these thoughts.You’ll do what you can to navigate a small and silent apartment, while still asserting your basic needs. A clean bathroom. A clean kitchen. A place to wash your dishes and cook your dinner. You will have to navigate what to ask for and what to let go of and none of this will be easy. At the beginning of July the person you live with will skillfully un-invite you from something and you’ll let her.You’ll both know what is happening, but neither will discuss it and resentment will grow like a weed between you. You will learn that time reveals a person--and finding yourself knee-deep in shit tends to accelerate this process. By the end of August you will have had the sort of fight from which two people do not, cannot recover--the sort of fight you enter into only when you know the friendship is already done. It will be a silly thing that begins it, as it always is. And that silly thing will serve as an excuse to say everything else. The everything else will be ugly. You will say the unkindest things you have ever said to another person. You will fight brutally, but honestly--and when all is said and done there will be some solace in that. That you were honest with yourself, honest with the other person, honest with your failings and well as her’s. She will tack hanging “but”s onto the end of her apologies and you will learn what it is to argue through mirrors and refraction and teeth-baring lies. She will say to you the very things you fear are true and not good. And that will hurt. And then you will remember that we all have an emotional landscape to trudge through. And to pretend one doesn’t is self-deception of the highest order. People are not better, nor superior or smarter because they’ve suffered less.
Home, as an idea, will transform in the wake of this. It will not be the tiny apartment you now fear returning to. You will take long walks. And drink more wine. Out, at bars, with friends. You will accept the kindness of those who invite you in. And you will escape on the weekends just as much as you can. You will listen to more music. Remembering that it’s somehow sweeter, more redemptive with external forces pressing in harder. And you’ll wake a few minutes early each morning. You’ll take the long walk to the subway. Go to the coffee shop that’s just out of the way because you like the light and you like the records and you like the benches just outside the windows. And you will sit there. For ten minutes, twenty. Sometimes only two. And this will be the ritual of how you begin your day. And home will have a new working definition--one of patterns and rituals and daily traditions. The 7:55 train. Fifth avenue before the tourists. The curve of Christopher Street. The patterned blocks and stone-white-facades of Park Avenue.
And fall will come. And with it, the sense that New York is almost bearable--cool winds coming in off the Hudson, as they are. And you will give thanks for the nearness of winter. For the shortening days. For the enclosing darkness. Because you know that come the end of April, with the changing light and return of warmth, you will move out. And on. That this winter is, for you, both a reality and a metaphor and the only thing to be done is let it be both. And to let both change you.