What we're afraid of, November 10, 2013

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“Oh my god I feel so hip. I feel like I’m in New York in the 1960s. This is the coolest thing I’ve done in awhile.”

That was me last Friday night.

Some of my writing group friends introduced me to a secret, underground comedy show that happens in someone’s Soho loft once a month. I’m never at these sorts of things.  We all crowded outside the door to the loft and one of my fellow writing group members said the secret passcode through the intercom. We walked up three flights of stairs to an enormous great room and kitchen, a bunch of red folding chairs and a small stage made of wood with mikes. The hosts of the evening had a free bar and pizza was delivered about thirty minutes before the doors closed.

I was thinking to myself, “a free show, there has to be about two comics,” I guessed. But no, we saw 10 comics, a few sketches and a musical act. I loved it. I loved feeling like I was part of the secret “in” crowd. Like New York way back when.

I left the show being inspired. There are so many young people in New York City doing amazing things. I only know about half of the cool things, and I’m definitely not contributing to any of them. It’s the sort of thing I don’t want to have missed out on. My 80 year old self would have wanted to be in something, building something besides a tiny little blog.

My writing group and I then went walking east to Boqueria, for chocolate and churros. I looked at each one of them in turn, reminding myself for the hundredth time that just a half a year ago we were all strangers. Now we were attending birthday parties and parting in the New York cold with warm hugs.

I had a busy week ahead of myself. I went to bed that night feeling like an underachiever.

 

***

On Sunday I went to brunch with a friend in the east 80s.

“What are you doing today?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

“I’m going to the Museum of Natural History, want to come?” she asked.

She and her husband had just purchased a membership and could gladly take me as their free plus one. I stroked my chin. The first and last time I’d gone to the museum was when I was three years old. It’s one of those stories my mother tells over and over – “we left the museum, and you said to me, ‘I was afraid of the dinosaurs,’ and I said, ‘oh why didn’t you tell me!’”

A photo accompanies this story. It is of me and my father, he’s kneeling down with me in the Koch Dinosaur Wing.

“Let’s go!”

We crossed the park. New York was chilly that weekend. My poor ears were suffering from the wind, even under their fake fur muffs.

We went first to the African wings, then South America (Fun fact: in a particular South American tribe, the process for getting a divorce is as simple as moving your hammock to the other side of the room). We went and saw all the North American birds, the biodiversity wing, Asia, and the Dinosaur Wing.

I immediately laughed when I saw the dinosaurs. Hardly scary at all. Then I thought about everything I’m afraid of now, that looming little gray cloud over my head (I’m a total Eyore when left to my own devices). But who’s to say that in a few years time those things won’t be scary anymore? That they’ll look small, easy to defeat, laughable?

That’s just the thing – that’s totally possible.