Tomorrow I leave for my San Francisco adventure. Four years ago, I began thinking about it. One year ago, I made a decision that I needed to give it a try. Last summer I ran the half marathon over the Golden Gate Bridge and then evaluated neighborhoods for low rent and good nearby coffee. Thirteen months later, I go.
This past weekend, courtesy of Hurricane Irene, I spent my last few hours in a usually over- packed, teeming city, only to be left walking around a ghost town. Stores were boarded up, with giant X’s taped on their windows, hoping that the winds would ignore their panes. Metal gates were pulled down in the middle of the afternoon, streets were vacant of all but a few taxis, and branches littered the sidewalks. This is NYC the way I like it. Abandoned. Quiet. Wind rustled through the mammoth trees in Central Park. The strong scent of rain filled the air. Peace was all around.
Until I went to Gristedes with the rest of my neighborhood to stock up on the necessities. Shelves bare of eggs, milk, and bread, I grabbed the next best thing: Tabasco Extra Spicy Bloody Mary Mix. Grabbing a few other items, I was immediately judged by an angry young man, annoyed at the lines, despite the impeccable speed and organization of the employees. With disdain he eyed my sopressetta, fig newtons, and dried cranberries.
“What the hell are you going to make over the next few days? Dried fruit and pepperoni calzones?” he grimaced.
I eyed his 100-calorie microwave popcorn packs and individual Tropicana containers.
“What are you making – Single Man Living Alone in His Apartment Stew?”
Don’t mock my food. Ever.
It’s been 36 hours, and this last trip to the grocery store is what I’ve subsided on. It’s been heavenly.
With a full stomach of Italian meat and olives, I went for a run today in Central Park for the first time in about 6 months, after my torn ligament shenanigans. There was not even the chance to sweat before the perspiration was whipped away by Irene’s breezy aftermath. I ran through the pain and jumped over the downed branches.
Tomorrow, as JFK airport opens, and life resumes as normal, my life, well, doesn’t. There is no work for me tomorrow. Instead I lug my bags to San Francisco to see what awaits me there. All these years of talk had to lead somewhere – I was tired of hearing myself pontificate about it. So I’m taking a chance and having an adventure. Life’s too short.
Songwriter Josh Ritter once said something that resonated with me. He was asked in an interview about risks in life and if he had any advice for someone stuck. He said: “Stand on the chair. Back in 2000, I was at a bar. Somebody had a guitar and he said, “Sing a song.” It was a packed little bar, and it wasn’t for music. And as I started playing a song, I saw an empty chair in front of me. I thought, “I could stand on that chair and sing, and that would be amazing.” But I didn’t. I was too intimidated. But since, I have always thought about that chair. And it’s almost Shakespearean to me: Whatever it is you’re doing, you’ve got to stand on the chair.”
Ok, so here goes. I’ve packed up my belongings and I’m going to stand on the chair. It may wobble, it may creak, it may squeak, it may flake, it may slide across the waxed surface. Heck, it might be too large, too small, or it may be just right. In the end, it doesn’t matter if it comes tumbling down. At least, I can say I have stood on the chair.