I watched the fireworks on the Fourth of July perched on a picnic bench on a Williamsburg rooftop. I was with friends, but it seemed the whole city was out, clustered on neighboring roofs, their silhouettes illuminated in the glow of rainbow-colored starbursts. When it was over, I got a video call from my family, celebrating 2500 miles away in Southern California daylight. "I'm there in spirit!" I said, waving to my sun-speckled niece and nephew, my parents, my two brothers.
Later, my mom sent photos of everyone in the pool, accompanied by emoji hearts in every color. "We felt it," she wrote.
Last week, everyone I spoke to in that video call traveled to New York to celebrate a milestone birthday with my brother, and to acclimate to a later time zone before traveling on to Italy, where I'm writing this now. We've spent the last five days on a rare family trip, in a little house with a yard full of lavender and rosemary, on a hilltop covered in olive trees. We've toured a medieval city. We've visited the ocean, the faint lilac horizon we can see from our windows. We've eaten our weight in cheese.
As often seems to be the case when you leave a big city, we seem to have more hours in the day than we know what to do with, and I've spent every night since we arrived laying in bed writing and rewriting this post.
Yesterday, during one such session, I paged through a softcover notebook I occasionally use as a journal. The last full entry I wrote was on May 25th; after that, the pages devolve into grocery reminders and to-do lists, save for one single sentence from June 28th: "I've written nothing for weeks, but everything is happening."
The next page is blank.
I posted an entry here recently about navigating writers' block, the influence of which has been evident on the increasingly sparse pages of this blog. Something similar happened around this time last year, when I took a short hiatus to rethink the direction I wanted to take my site. What I may or may not have shared at the time was that I was also rethinking my decision to pursue writing, and whether or not I wanted to stay in New York.
I've found that this has been one of the biggest challenges of my twenties: often, everything — not just career, friendships, love, or location, but all of it, all at once — feels up in the air. It's a challenge, sometimes, to see things through with grace, with focus. It's a lot like juggling: trying to keep multiple batons in the air, being mindful all the time of timing, and footwork, and gravity.
These days, I'm there in spirit has become something of a steady mantra. I say it constantly. I've written it half a dozen times tonight alone, to friends back in New York, whose birthdays and shows and summer get-togethers I'm missing while traveling. And I mean it.
Also: however scattered, however absent, my spirit is here, too, with you. I hope that's felt.
A few weeks ago, I ran into an old friend outside a concert. "Where have you been?" he asked, and I had an experience like one you see in movies, when all of the events leading up to that single moment in time whiz by in a blur onscreen.
"Here," I said. "I've always been here."
I'll be traveling in Italy and Amsterdam til the 30th of July; I'll be back with a regular week of posts (that's five!) starting August 3rd. Sending lots of love from around the world in the meantime — and many thanks, as always, for your kind words and understanding about my sporadic posting this year. I'm here in spirit always; I really am.
You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much for reading. Photo via Instagram (where Max, Margaux, and I are posting photos of our trip).