A palette cleanser, if you will allow...

So the weeklies these next few weeks are very un-weekly, so while you wait patiently, I thought I'd remind you of all the thrilling posts in my archives. Take your pick, they're carefully curated by what you're in the mood for: 

 

I want to read about travel and adventure!  (Or, I just want to see pretty pictures.) 

  1. That time I randomly went to Shelter Island with a boy I hardly knew. (Spoiler: I didn't get murdered.)
  2. Seven Nights in Hong Kong -- hiking, eating, exploring. (Part one, two, and three.)
  3. My trip to Las Vegas. Strippers, nightclubs, canyons, Hunter S. Thompson. (Part one, part two, part three and part four.)
  4. Living out my "Vertigo" dreams in San Francisco (Part one and part two)
  5. Hot Springs, and Mountains and Bears in Colorado.
  6. My first trip to Montauk and the one trip that made me fall in love with it.
  7. Paris and London the second time around
  8. Coronado, California and Boston, Mass., briefly.
  9. Newport, RI

 

You're annoying. Here's further proof: 

  1. My love triangle. (Yeah, you read that right.) 
  2. Ye old bucket list

 

I'm going on too many first dates. Honey, you ain't got nothing on me. These posts are one-tenth of one percent of first dates I've been on...

  1. My date with a prominent New York birder
  2. My MET Museum date.
  3. Dating men with cars and men with dogs
  4. A sad, "I was ghosted," post.
  5. That date with the famous photographer at my favorite bar. 
  6. How (most of them) take their drinks. 

 

I want to read about Mobile or, at least see some good photos.

  1. A frustrated take here
  2. An essay from my high school days when I used to ride horses
  3. A Christmas trip.

The Weeklies: July 22 - 28

There is little to report on this week. I was busy with work and ticking things off my long pre-vacation to-do list (read: logistics and lots of self-loathing while trying on bathing suits). I spent a lot of time wondering if and when I'll be able to write The Weeklies while I'm on several back-to-back mini vacations before one big trip. Ideally, I'd send rough notes from the field with beautiful pictures and then after I return, flesh out everything for you in a series. I'm not sure if it'll work, but I'll try. Then the week of September 1 we'll be back to our regularly scheduled posts. 

Not to plug in such a boorish way, but of course they'll always be lots of nearly-real-time video over on Instagram (both stories and posts) in less than a week: @arieldavis

Till then. 

The Weeklies: July 14 - 21

Back in 2010, while working as a receptionist, I met a girl named Susan. She came right off the elevator to my desk and introduced herself. She was there for an interview but instead of sitting on the couch she stood by my desk and chatted with me. I learned she'd just been laid off of a previous job. 

"Oh my gosh that's awful," I said. 

"It's OK," she said. "I just called everyone I knew and started going out to coffee with people and now I'm here." 

A few weeks later she appeared again at nine am.

"Did you get the job!?" I said, feeling fully invested in her journey

"I got the job!" she exclaimed and did a little dance. I was promoted and became her counterpart on the corporate side, which meant we worked closely together for the next three years. We learned to help each other out, picking up tasks for each other where we could. 

In the winter of 2012 I was having a tough time in my personal life and work was stressful. One evening the office emptied early for the company Christmas party so I hid in a bathroom stall, crying. I heard the door swing open and peeked out, it was Susan, she could see I had been crying so we talked for almost an hour. She was so nurturing and kind. Her advice made me feel better. 

"But I'm not going to go to the Christmas party," I said. 

"I'll go with you, we can walk in together," she said. "Come on, you deserve it! You worked so hard, please come." 

So we went. 

Eventually, Susan got a job at another publication. A year later I saw her at a birthday party. We started talking about our passions vs. our day jobs. She was writing a pilot for a TV show. I told her about how silly I felt about my blog.

"It's really nothing at all," I said. 

"But it's your art," Susan said. "don't ever feel bad about your art." 

I remember that conversation every time I sit down to write, and at cocktail parties where people ask me if I consider myself a writer, whenever I feel bad about sharing my posts on social media. It's the one thing that's kept me going. 

Last Tuesday I found out that Susan died of cancer. She was in her thirties. 

#

I was up and down this week, obviously. I had happiness: laughing with my friends, walking down the street holding Alistairs hand. I also had the opposite: a death of a former coworker, crying during a spa facial, lots of tears.

Earlier in the week I did a Google hangout with my two friends Philippa and Suni (who both now live in different cities) -- always a treat and always too short. I spent Tuesday night seeing "Sorry to Bother You" with Alistair. I don't want to say too much because half the brilliance of the film is in the surprise, but it was amazing. It was so refreshing to see all my worries about society reflected in an entertaining way. I still can't stop thinking about it. 

On Wednesday I booked a facial at a spa. At 6:30 pm nervously fumbled my way from work to midtown. I don't feel completely safe being half clothed and poked and prodded. In two separate countries two separate masseuses told me: "you shouldn't get massages, you don't know how to let go and relax." 

A receptionist at the spa led me to the changing rooms. There was a fresh robe and slippers for me, and she handed me a towel for my facial. I looked at the robe and wrinkled my brow and the attendant assured me I didn't need it. She led me down the hall, of a common area and we passed four sets of blonde girls in their robes who looked at me in disapproval. I felt naked and ran back to the changing room to get my robe. When I rounded the corner to the locker room, I heard them laughing. 

"Did you see that girl without a robe?" 

It grew quiet when they saw me, I opened my locker and grabbed mine, and heard them snickering as I left. I was mortified.

I sat in a chair in the waiting room before my appointment and started to cry. I felt like I did in elementary school, and middle school, and high school. I couldn't manage to do the socially acceptable thing. I was always misstepping innocently but with much consequence. 

The masseuses were right: I don't know how to let go. 

After my treatment I shuffled slowly through midtown with a frown on my face. I passed two women in Times Square. They looked to be in their 60s.

"That's the thing about being in New York. I can't even remember what was going on at home..." said one woman. 

"You know, I can't even recall what was going on at home," said the other. 

I imagine that they were just like me, distracted? Hypnotized? When I descended into the subway station I too had forgotten the girls at the spa. All it took was a walk with new faces and big buildings. I sat down on the train and quickly jotted down what they were saying in my Evernote app. 

Philippa was coming for a weekend stay and arrived Thursday evening. On Friday after work I met up with her and Kennedy for drinks on the roof of the Arlo Hotel Hudson. We arrived right before sundown and everyone wanted a photo of the sky turning pink. We ordered a pitcher of froze and gabbed excitedly about the rest of summer. That night Philippa and I watched bad reality TV and ate cookies and chocolate. I woke up Saturday with a hangover. I spent the day at home. 

The Weeklies: July 6 - 14

Remember that week I had in spring? The week when New York was exactly the way I imagined? Last week, was much of the same in all the best ways. 

Wednesday Alistair and I planned drinks with a friend. 

"Where should we meet her?" he texted. 

"Top of the Standard?" I wrote back.

"That's a good one," he wrote. 

I took him there for the first time last year, on a whim (we needed to kill time before dinner and it was on the way). He loved it. If you've never been just imagine an indoor rooftop with glass windows looking downtown, and gold, jazz age inspired decor. 

IMG_0653.jpg

We met our friend, ordered a round and laughed for a few hours. It was just so nice to be somewhere I know. Our friend asked us what we had planned for the rest of summer, and I realized that my July and August were going to be packed: a few trips out to the North Fork and Montauk (my favorite spot), my Australian pen-pal from high school was visiting and we would meet for the first time, Philippa was coming to stay, and a trip to Switzerland, among other things.

The following day Alistair and I had dinner at Hanjan with his friends from out of town. After another night of laughter, Alistair walked me to my train through Chelsea. As always, when we parted and said goodnight, I didn't want to leave him. 

###

IMG_0661.jpg

For Friday night, Alistair bought tickets to a Bastille Day Ball hosted by the French Consulate. After work Friday we went to Times Square and met a line wrapped nearly around the block. There an hour long wait just to get in and I started to melt through my new white cotton dress. We complained with the people in front of us in line and decided that maybe it wasn't worth it, but suddenly, finally, we were inside. After checking in we were given French flag ribbons to wear on our wrists and guided to a basement room with a small stage and dance floor. There was a live jazz band and free champagne. We sang the French and American national anthems and everyone danced. We left after an hour to grab burgers nearby. 

 

After dinner we walked hand in hand down Eighth Avenue toward 42nd Street to wait for a cab. The whole week felt very romantic, very alive. For the first time in awhile I was looking forward.

The Weeklies: June 30 - July 7

Last week a New York heat wave continued. I stayed in my apartment all of last weekend, and on Wednesday had the day off for the Fourth of July. I watched TV all day and went to bed wearing ear plugs. Kids and families blew off fireworks until around 4 am. 

On Thursday morning I boarded a 1 train bound downtown. As I expected, it was empty. Everyone was still on holiday. There was a man pacing the train, yelling in monologue style to himself. He was angry at the world, his life situation. He was unemployed, recently released from prison, homeless. A woman switched cars and he lunged at her angrily. A man bumped him getting on another stop and he yelled at him.

"Look at me one more time and I'll kill you," he said, kicking in the air close to his face. A woman sitting down shook her head and he yelled at her, too. "Why do you look at me like that instead of trying to help me?"

"Because you have so much anger in you, you have to learn to control some of that anger to get where you want to be," she said. 

"No one here wants to help me!"

"I want to help you," she said, "if you'll calm down." 

"Get me a job!" he screamed. 

"You are a smart man," she said. "I'm sure if you go out and look you'll find one. We're all going through something. We're all worried about our jobs and our lives. We're all trying to make money." 

"How! How!" he screamed. 

"You should help me find a job," she said. "I'm too old, that's what they tell me." 

"I don't have skills!"

The argument escalated. He said that woman should hire men to do sexual favors (he actually said something worse than that but I'm feeling conservative today). I got out at 96 street to transfer, and a wave of people all went with me. On the other train, without him, everyone shook their heads. We all looked at each other as if we had escaped unscathed. 

I've had a much easier life than he does, but a lot of the time I write because I need to have that emotional outpouring that he was having on the train. I felt bad for him. He has needs that fall on deaf ears, and makes appeals to faces that are interested in their cell phones. 

#

Thursday Alistair returned to town. We ordered in dinner and he told me about his trip to Switzerland. We had a lovely Saturday wandering around and having a long brunch at a peaceful restaurant (Otway). 

I have spent the last month resting and the month before that complaining about not resting. Things are picking up again. 

The Weeklies: June 23 - 30

I'm coming out of a bad week like a boxer maimed in a fight. I fought my lingering cough (the one that woke me up from my sleep all week), I defended myself for everything, simple statements like "The sky is blue" came with an argument. Is that what life is? Telling your side of the story till you're tired? 

With Alistair away on business I used my evenings this week to watch trash TV and Instagram stories. The toilet was broken, the oven still smoking despite cleaning it four times. The neighbors shuffled in their rooms every time I coughed. Nothing worse than feeling like a diseased vampire when you're well. 

On Friday I'd had enough. After work I went straight to Williamsburg to check out a sale on my way back, I walked down the stairs to the L train, a woman blocking my path at one point. I tried to go around her, but every step she took was in my direction. I finally squeezed past her, and she angrily pushed me hard with her hand. I was steady enough not to fall down the stairs.

"Sorry," I said flatly over my shoulder and kept going without looking back. I didn't even see her face, or try to. On the platform I kept my eyes on the arriving train for fear she'd follow me and try to fight. I've seen it happen before. 

I sat down on the L and she wasn't on my car. I could only look at the ceiling and shake my head. "This is exactly how I've felt all week," I said to myself. 

I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and the warmth of the woman's hand on my arm still felt present. I ran through my past ten years in my memory. I've only had a similar experience once on my twenty-sixth birthday. A woman pushed me down in a Zara just for walking by her while she had a disagreement with the staff. When I stood up, after being pushed so hard I was laying flat on my back, I decided to leave. On my walk back through the store. All the store workers were looking at me, whispering, "That's the girl that got pushed," and a bystander tapped me on the shoulder, "Are you OK?" I said I was. I walked to the corner of 59th and Lexington and cried. 

You can only have so many of those instances before you snap. I'm a doormat. I always tell people I want to be "assertive." But I've realized that I'd like to be aggressive

I got home near 8 pm, ordered sushi and watched television. Today the temperature reached 90-something. Shades drawn, AC off, I sat in the cave of my own making. 

The Weeklies: June 16 - 23

As much as I try to differentiate them, my New York summers always turn out the same: they open with a Williamsburg barbecue on a roof or terrace, by some magic, an invitation always materializes. Mid-summer I end up on a Rockaway Beach and Montauk with a few last-minute trips to Boston. 

I laughed about this when I landed in Boston on Friday. Alistair met me at the gate in our rental car, and we had a beautiful, busy weekend. He took me to Harvard, where we walked hand in hand through the yard to make stops at all his old dorm rooms. After dinner we went to Hamilton to stay the night with his relatives. In the morning Alistairs little throat irritation on Thursday and Friday turned into a full blown cold. I didn't see it coming, but by the middle of the week, I would also become ill. 

We drove down to Boston to meet with Natalie and her friends at a brewery. At a big table we knocked back beers and played Jenga before departing for Lexington. We hopped back in the car, checked in at our hotel in Lexington and dressed for Alistair's work event. I had a fun time there, his coworkers were so nice and the food was delicious. The hostess even made creme brûlée for desert.

By Sunday, as we boarded an Amtrak train back to New York, Alistair was at the peak of his illness. He busied himself with work and I stayed glued to the window. My ride home was sadder than my bus ride to LaGuardia. Homes with backyards and pools and toys went by. I thought about everyone I know without those things, my handful of extended family who lived in trailers and HUD homes. Something in the economic disparity of the world depresses me. Enough sometimes, to make me feel suicidal. What is the point of hanging around, I asked myself. Life feels like a bunch of unsolved problems that will become other unsolved problems, and a lot of the times I just don't feel like being here. I would say, half of the year, I don't feel like being here.

We trudged out of Penn Station and took the subway to Alistairs apartment. I ran out to buy him bone broth and made him chug it to get well. By Tuesday, I was feeling sick myself. I couldn't make it to work Wednesday and left early on Thursday. I fought a fever and felt so miserable I called a tele-doctor on the phone (it's the new in thing). 

"You should get a flu test," he urged. It was 10:55 pm. looked up the nearest Urgent Care center and called a Lyft. Street closures forced my driver to take the long way. Waze kept giving him dead ends. He put the car in reverse once, for a three point turn, and sighed. 

"Just take Broadway," I said, looking at my watch. The Urgent Care facility closed at midnight. It was already 11:15. 

"Are you going to work?" he asked. 

"No, the doctor. I'm feeling unwell." 

The three front desk attendants looked ashen when I walked in at 11:45, putting a dent in their plan to leave on time. There was a man in his 60s in the waiting room, a couple with a snoring kid, and another man on the phone. I sunk into my red pleather chair and covered my eyes with my hands. My cough was enough to make me gag (in public this made me look like I was choking on something, my shoulders up leaning forward, closing my eyes). My head was pounding, my eyes watery and red from the fever.

My flu test was negative, but the doctor directed me to take a three over the counter medications before wishing me good luck. I took another Lyft home and slid into bed at 1 am, feeling like I'd accomplished nothing except spending $100 bucks on medical care in two hours. 

I went to work on Friday but was in bed by 9 pm. The cough woke me up, and perhaps the neighbors, too.  On Saturday I crossed through the apartment in my pajamas. Nothing to do but eat, sleep and watch TV. A prison of my coughs and groans.

The Weeklies: June 9 - 16

Last week was a week of rushing. Alistair was in Boston, I was planning to join him at the end of the week. I would be having a houseguest at my place while I was away. I cleaned, I had groceries delivered, I shopped, I dropped of keys with a friend-of-a-friend. I packed an overnight bag. 

I was exhausted by Friday morning when I threw my bag on my shoulder and took the 1 train downtown and to the M60 bus across town to LaGuardia Airport. I got a window seat, put my bag in my lap. I lamented everything I saw out the window. At the stops on 125th Street I thought about my early New York memories with my aunt who lived about 20 blocks north. We would go to the street sellers for coco butter and incense and "Harlem" shirts. Now I can't even afford the neighborhood, the Whole Foods on Lenox seems threatening. What the fuck are we doing?  I ask myself as I see the glass and concrete modern floor-to-ceiling window luxury towers sprout up, mostly empty. I want to tell them what its like to be like me, to hold your ailments in while you wait for enough paychecks to go to the doctor and finally get that test. But then I say, maybe they did all that. But please don't let them forget. 

I think about everyone around me. Most of my friends have more. I remember one of them a few years back, drunkenly suggesting a movie to me because I reminded her of the lead character. "You'd love it, it's about girls failing." Then I realized that among them all, yes, I was the least successful. They had an ivy sheen you could smell from far off and the confidence that comes with it. That knowing what you know whereas I exude, I'm faking it god damnit give me a chance.

We're now in Queens. Faster than my last M60 ride, we're at the airport terminal. I remind myself that I'm the only person I know that thinks LaGuardia is an OK airport despite ending up in a dead looking terminal with only stale sandwich shop and a grim crowd. I find a seat. 

I always ask myself the same question when I'm brooding alone: what kind of life are we meant to live? I always, quickly, in a half a second later, remember that there is no such thing as the "right kind of life." I decide I'm going to draw up a list of things I hate and never do them again for the sake of personal happiness. Then I got on a plane and went to Boston.