Two Selves

One: Bitter

So much of me is bitter these days. And since I can only blame my reality on my own sloppy choices, it is no one’s fault that I work more than do anything else, that I will never be able to pay off my student loans (unless the lottery fairy comes), that I am stuck here and can’t live the floaty life of an artist I always imagined—no one’s fault but my own. Sometimes, like now, I wake up with the best of intentions. The scene opens up in my mind, just waiting to be put down. But the bitter half of myself ruins it on the walk over to my morning writing spot (i.e., the table in the corner at a very particular downtown Starbucks). Bitter me starts making snarky little comments in my head. She gets me pissed off about work—and we aren’t even at work yet!—she stresses me out; she makes my head pound. Then I am sitting here trying to get away from her, but she won’t shut up. She’s making me write this post. I really hate her today.

Two: Naive

Then I look out the window at the city street and am reminded of the other part of me—the one who’s gone all starry-eyed, who thinks tomorrow will be better, she always thinks that, she thinks tomorrow will make all the difference in the world. She’s the one who woke me up with the scene idea. She stopped me in the street yesterday, scrambling for a pen. Right now, she’s got me looking out the window. We see yellow cabs going past. A boy on a bicycle. The pita shop. The newsstand with all the porn. The subway entrance, going uptown. The place to buy cigars. The manhole cover partly open, a little steam coming out. It all looks so terribly romantic through her eyes. She makes me remember growing up far away from this place, visiting the city as a girl, vowing to live here one day, no matter what. She reminds me of coming here at 16, this very block, here, right outside this window, and sighing and wishing I could stay forever and ever, and then going down the street to buy boots. And that time that summer when we drove two hours at two in the morning just to cross the bridge and spend an hour here, then turn back in time for work.

I can see my young self—not yet knowing enough to be bitter—sitting on the ledge looking out into the night. The faint sound of splashing beneath; maybe this was at the reservoir, where we’d go skinny-dipping in the water that supplies New York City. There I was, looking out into the dark, where there were no lights, absolutely no lights, and saying out loud to some boy who said he was in love with me that I was going to be a writer and live in the city (yes, I—we—called it “The City”) and that was that. He didn’t believe me. Maybe he laughed. Maybe he said I’d be back.

That boy didn’t love me. He didn’t even know me. I’m naive, I’m bitter, I’m very very tired—but I’m here, aren’t I? I am sitting right here. You certainly can’t argue with that.

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