It is 6:30am.
There is a pile of laundry staring at me, illuminated by a stream of too-bright-New-York-dawn. I just added a set of sweaty gym clothes to the mound and I enjoy imagining the pile scowling at me in discontent. It leans over a centimeter and I scowl back at it happily. I like to win at things and right now it feels as though I’m winning against the laundry pile.
The Laundromat opens in 30 minutes.
I am sitting on the floor of my bedroom in my underwear, munching on leftover salad rolls and Ben Howard is crooning at me softly about how we live in the confines of our fears and I nod my sweaty flushed face to him and think about how maybe Benny H. is more emotionally intelligent than I think.
I think about fear some more- about how the all-consuming fear of disappointing myself and not being good enough seems to comes up again and again and again- I observe it slowly- try to break it down into manageable pieces, but my brain isn’t ready to go so far and I switch my attention back to Benny H. and nodding my flushed face.
Being here in Brooklyn this summer has been about forcing myself to accept a period of fear and instability and give it time to mellow out.
Bloody hell, has it been one hell of a work-in-progress.
The laundry pile falls over.
I watch it fall in total slow motion and do nothing. There is a funny failure to it that makes me smile.
The Laundromat opens in 19 minutes.
I try to write a letter to myself of all the things I’ve learnt since moving to Brooklyn this summer. I come up with just three things. I’m sure there will be more.
1. Ask for exactly what you want.
Seriously. Ask for it nicely, and respectfully. Ask for it without worrying about the outcome, and without negativity and without imagining what the talented, well-reputed pastry chef must think of the frizzy haired upstart who just walked in and asked to bake with him and then went so far as to set down a schedule of exactly when and how she would most prefer to do that.
Do it because you may just get exactly what you want, and at age 20, you (and most certainly not I) have absolute zilch to lose. I’ve found that people like to be asked things directly, and nicely, and with honesty and then most of the time, they will do whatever they can to genuinely accommodate that request.
2. Moving to a new city is hard.
The public transport system is confusing; the post office loses your mail or can’t understand where you live or why you keep getting shipments of protein bars and raw vegan cookbooks. Your new Crossfit gym is filled with women much stronger than you and with far nicer arms who call the neighborhood ‘up and coming’ and ‘turning the corner’ and you wonder where they expect all the people who were ‘down and here already’ and have lived on the corner to begin with, to end up.
You desperately want to feel a part of a community- the cool gangs of foodies and small artisanal food businesses, and strong, young, independent women that you see on instagram and Facebook- launching “collabs” and hosting “pop-up picnics” and writing hard hitting articles about the stuff that makes you tick. But, you’re the new kid in a city of thousands of new kids and even your boss at your waitressing gig doesn’t say your name right, so where do you even start?
3. All those discussions about self-care that you dismissed during the school year feel startlingly relevant now. More days than not your brain feels like a hybrid between a pressure cooker and a drill sergeant. Sleep has been hit or miss lately, and you feel like you’re perpetually giving yourself pep talks and dealing with anxieties and doubts that are entirely self-generated.
It’s okay though; you’re getting better at handling the reins- at knowing when to loosen up, when to let go entirely, and then when to yank ‘em like your motherfucking life depends on it.
You’re aware of the need for better self-care, you’re intentional about finding calm in the chaos, hell; you’re even reading Deepak fucking Chopra on the subway.
The Laundromat opens in 4 minutes.
I heave myself up, leave the dishes undone, and start gathering the spilled laundry mound.
I think about how much I’ve grown in this past month- how many walls have slowly started coming down. I think about those fucking delicious buckwheat and chocolate pancakes we made last weekend and suddenly my mood changes. I think of a certain boy who was here for those pancakes last weekend, his little fish hook necklace still lying on my nightstand. I hold on to that memory for a while- feeling lucky to have that memory to hold onto in the first place. You, shirtless and bed headed in the backyard, plates piled with pancakes and berries and chocolate and syrup in front of us. I remember thinking that it would be a memory I’d look back on and smile for a long time about. I go ahead and smile for a long time.
I go to the Laundromat and do my fucking laundry. I make the pancakes again, they don’t taste as good as I remember but they make me smile anyway.
Now for some fotographia!
There are some from the 4th of July.
Some from brunch at Russ and Daughters (post for my take on the halwa ice cream coming soon). Some more from brunch #2 at Black Tree NYC. Even more from my wonderful solo brunch #3 at Okonomi, my new favorite Brooklyn eatery.
And then a whole bunch of other miscellaneous Brooklyn/NYC moments and explorations.