POV: Here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

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 focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories. 

My six-year-old niece likes to play a game when I come over, during which she hides (usually in a way that leaves part of her visible - toes exposed under a table, fingers from under a blanket) and I wander the apartment, trying to find her. I make guesses aloud. Is she in the closet? Is she at school? Did she go to the beach and forget to tell us?

One morning recently, she stood tall against a tree trunk in the park, frozen, hiding.

"Where could she have gone?" I wondered, and she responded the way she always does, with high-pitched glee and nose scrunched in mock confusion, as if it was clear all along. "I'm here, silly," she said.

Because I have three windows and live on the top floor of my apartment building - and because in the summer, I find myself filled with a mysterious nervous energy and the urge to be constantly doing - I wake up early. I try to use the hours before 9AM to get organized, to get ahead on work, but these days, as I mentioned here, it's been a challenge to be fully present. Between deadlines and pitches, friends moving and friends visiting, late nights out and painfully early mornings after, it's hard to sit still. 

This seems to me decidedly, frustratingly un-adult.

One morning weeks ago, I met Lily at a coffee shop. I'd done nothing with my day thus far, I told her. I ordered a coffee, put my head on the table. "Lily," I said, with my eyes closed, "how am I supposed to focus when life is so distracting?"

Without looking up from her laptop, she answered, "What are you supposed to be focused on?"

A few days later, when another friend made a reference to "staring thirty in the face," I wondered to myself what thirty was supposed to look like. As a child, my vision of thirty - whatever that meant - was nothing like what my life at twenty-eight looks like now, with its shared apartment above a restaurant that smells (pleasantly, most of the time) like grease; its mercifully high-heelless job; its ice cream breakfasts, its neon butterflies, its nights of howling at the moon.

I'm far from the place I thought I'd be. Most days, I like it here better.


Last Monday, I had dinner with a group of friends from college on David and Steve's roof in Bushwick. We ordered pizza and chicken and macaroni and cheese, and ate it cross-legged on the ground. There weren't enough dishes in our hosts' jumbled cabinet of plates and bowls, so we shared between five of us. Swigs of wine were taken straight from the bottle. 

Above us, the sky glowed orange. A breeze moved in. A woman on the street below was singing Blackstreet. 

“What a perfect night,” I said, making a mountain of cherry stems and pizza crusts. “Can you believe it’s Monday?” 

It didn't feel like one, but what are Monday nights supposed to feel like?

Later, when the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped, David went downstairs and brought back blankets. We lay on our backs and wondered about the moon, whether it was waxing or waning. No one knew. 

Under covers and in the dark, I drifted toward sleep. But only minutes passed before something pulled me back: someone had found a jump rope and Steve was skipping and chanting somewhere nearby, the Empire State Building behind him. Still on the edge of sleep, I forgot for a moment where I was. It was all so strange, I wondered briefly if I was dreaming. 

But there were clues, and I remembered: we were here, on a rooftop on Graham Avenue, with cheap pizza and wine and a pile of cherry pits. Here, with our heads on the pavement and our hands raised, searching the sky for far-flung planets. 

Here, with dirty feet and not enough silverware. 

Here, happy.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, here. Thank you so much, as always, for reading. Photo via my Instagram.


Bekka said...

Beautiful as always.

tara said...

A jump rope would wake me up every time :)

samantha hahn said...

Startlingly beautiful Shoko. What a perfect perfect essay to summarize the feeling of 28.

Diana said...

love this. as always. :)

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous, my dear.

burntfeather said...

life is definitely all about moments - you describe such lovely ones. My idea of adulthood is very different to what I thought it might be but I too think I like it better :)

Katie said...

This is so lovely. Thank you.

Elle said...

Shoko, it's always comforting to read your posts and know we are in the same boat! But maybe that's because we're birthday twins? ;) Lovely to read, as always!

dervla @ the curator said...

i love these thoughts on here, now, and happiness...it's so true. What do we know? We just know what we feel in that moment, and in that moment it's all good. Sometimes we just have to let go of the worry that we're not focusing on the right thing, and just be. (easier said than done, i totally know)

Julia said...

Fantastic story. I think we are in the mindset of "doing" and we forget its just the "being" that we need to be in.


max said...


Raquel R. said...

Beautiful words that invoke images.

stateandoccupation.com said...

Catching up on a weeks worth of missed posts this morning. Your writing inspires me, but I've said that before.


Shoko said...

Thank you all so much!

girlseeksplace said...

I am staring 32 in the face and I wonder daily how I got here, to this life of a shared apartment in this big little city. I am sharing a life with friends from the past (thank you, Nevada, for only having three colleges and for everyone coming North) and friends from the present. There is a boy who wanders around my life and is stealing my heart. There are long conversations and pizza in seedy bars and long nights. The morning always comes to early. So, from 2500+ miles away, I am living life in a haze, just as you are. <3

Rachel said...

"It didn't feel like one, but what are Monday nights supposed to feel like?"

I feel this way about many things: love, growing up, and Monday nights, just to name a few. =]

Bekka said...

I just re-read this and I can actually hear Lily's voice saying, "What are you supposed to be focused on?"

Shoko said...

Bekka, haha! I miss that voice :)


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