POV: Discomfort.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.
  

Months ago, a friend from college called me on the phone, her voice choked with tears. Her relationship had ended, she said. The shock of sudden solitude had hit her.

“All these years,” she told me, “I thought I was so lucky.” And then she listed the reasons why: to have met someone; to have been settled; to have known at such a young age what she wanted, where she was going.

I listened. I said the only words I could think to say: “I know.” 

“I’ve never felt so bad in my life,” she continued. “Everything hurts.”

I lay in bed, the phone sandwiched between my face and the mattress. It’d leave a mark later, warm and red and wrinkled. “I know,” I said.

---

Not long before, I’d sat with Lily at a party, a bottle of Jameson on the table between us. We didn’t know each other well, but we’d spent enough time together to establish that we were both broke, both single, both confused. We were also both very sad, in ways that felt unfamiliar and hard to explain.

“I didn’t know it was possible to feel this bad,” I said, and she nodded. I wondered, though: if I couldn’t control the ups and downs of life, what would happen if I embraced the discomfort of not knowing where I was going or what I wanted?

I tried to explain this to a group of friends at dinner one night, and between forkfuls of chocolate pie, found myself delivering a rather long-winded, semi-delirious soliloquy.  “I’ve always tried to protect myself from pain,” I told everyone. “But now I want to know what it feels like to be uncomfortable. I want to mess up, and do the wrong thing, and stay out all night, and fall on my face.” I drew circles in the puddle of melted ice cream on my plate. “I’m not afraid of getting hurt.”

I thought about a text message I'd received from someone earlier. Life is beautiful and exciting and not comfortable and that’s ok, it said.

I looked up to a table of blank faces. I felt confident, and lucky. I felt, I remember, like I’d discovered the secret of life.

--

Last week, I met a friend on the Lower East Side. He’d come by bike. I hadn’t. We were hungry.

“Ride on my handlebars,” he said. “I’ll carry your bag.”

I hesitated, my foot on the wheel. “Is this a bad idea?” 

He shrugged a shoulder. “Maybe.”

I got on. We rode in traffic through the Lower East Side, the East Village, Chelsea. I sang Father John Misty all the way, my feet in the air. I waved at other bikers, at taxi drivers, at dogs on leashes. I stretched my legs. 

“I wish you could see my face right now,” I said, because it hurt, from smiling.

We arrived at our destination. I hopped off, skipping a few steps on the asphalt to catch my balance.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

I laughed. Stood up. 

I was.

---
You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much for reading!

26 comments:

--- said...

My favorite post of yours to date.

dakotabee said...

I liked this post a lot. Made me want to cruise around the city on handle bars too!

Lindsay said...

i love these posts so much. amazing how you capture so much emotion in just a few short scenes.

Chelsea C. said...

Can't tell you enough how much I love these. Each POV post makes me so glad to know you, and also wish I knew you better. xo

Raquel R. said...

Beautiful, warm and intimate piece of writing, packed with feelings and experiences of someone who is not afraid to explore the core of the human condition.

the southern hostess said...

What a gift you have. Just lovely.

Paw! said...

One of my very favorite posts. I think you did discover the secret of life.

tara said...

I've always wanted to ride on someone's handlebars! That sounds like fun.

I'm so impressed that you are opening up your arms and heart to the hurt. It's weird how once you do it, it can be fun! And also terrifying. :)

sherry said...

Hurray! Bravo! You are amazing, except riding on the handlebars.

auste said...

One of my favorite NYC memories involves riding on my buddy's handlebars through Manhattan just a few days before I moved away.... I remember so desperately trying to hold on to that marvelous feeling of complete joy and fear and amazingness flying through traffic at dusk... I was so sad to be moving away, but so completely in love with the moment that my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing (also, my butt cheeks hurt from clenching them so tight afraid I'd get tossed off at any minute).... Thanks for sharing, and reminding me of my favorite moment. I always look forward to your POV posts - and the emotions they evoke from me.

Anonymous said...

love.

Shoko said...

Really can't thank you all enough for your words - your support and encouragement mean so much to me!

girlseeksplace said...

Every single time. You hit the nail on the head. Without fail.

Loulou said...

Your POV posts are always so inspiring, encouraging readers to just get out there and live. Good or bad, and sometimes throwing you off balance a little bit so you have to skip, it's a worth taking the ride.

angela said...

So well said, and with that you probably will get hurt, and it will be so worth it.

sui said...

"I know."

oh, how I know that feeling as well.

discomfort. brilliant post. thank you.

magical said...

you are a wonder. xo!

max said...

hear hear. just wonderful.

Shoko said...

Thank you all again, so much.

smallworldthisis said...

As a 27-year-old, these are words to live by.

HY said...

I love how honest you are about not feeling good all the time or having things go well. It takes guts to be so honest in this age where everyone is only showcasing the highlights of their lives. Thank you for your words.

Shoko said...

HY, thank you. That's such a compliment.

dee said...

this one has to be my favorite post. it sang to me. love this series. :)

Shoko said...

Dee, makes me so happy to hear that. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I have to quote another comment-er above...just came upon this post and it truly sang to me...thank you for your courageous, honest and insightful essays.

Shoko said...

Anon, thank you. That means so much to me.

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