It Is Good To Have Been In The House Of Someone Else

The first day of vacation is often rough.

Even though I'd been looking forward to it, had sprinted off and away from the dirty dishes, that first day in New York was anxious. The luggage was cumbersome. The directions were confusing. The sights and sounds were too much, more stimuli than an average day back in Michigan usually holds.

By the end of the day, when I met up with a friend, I was quiet but pulsing inside. He chose the calmest Thai restaurant in the vicinity, and even then, I sat wondering what I was doing there, eating rice noodles at this late hour instead of in my pajamas at home with buttered crackers.

But finding my way midtown, then later, reuniting with the old friend I would stay with, would check off small accomplishments of self-esteem. New York would become familiar again, on this fifth solo visit there, and perhaps more quickly than the three days it usually takes.

Until the next morning, when I was headed to Brooklyn for day one of the women's boxing clinic at Gleason's Gym.

Sitting on the C train, once again I wondered what I was doing. It would be so much easier not to walk into this new situation. Couldn't I just be a tourist for once? Forget this pressure of meeting physical demands and encountering a new set of people. I could just hang out with my old friends, all of whom I've known for twenty years. I could catch a show, buy a Statue of Liberty snow globe.

I did not want to walk up those fabled steps.

But I did. And I'm here to say that it's good to force yourself out of your routine.

The buttered crackers? Just a small example of one of the things I think I can't live without. In fact, on that first day when I hit Whole Foods, I saw my favorite brand. "Locally-produced," the packaging said; how could I resist? But I did.

My four pillows at home on the bed: I need them to keep my back and neck in good working order.

Actually, I don't. Sleeping on my friend's couch was just fine.

Coffee makes me bloat. White flour makes me feel sick.

But when the shortest line at MOMA only sold coffee and croissants, and I really needed some sustenance (the hypoglycemia is one thing that hadn't changed), let me tell you: they were the best I ever had.

Shampoos. Soaps. Eating patterns. Sleeping patterns. Athletic demands--at home, I won't go boxing if I feel a little off in my legs, back, whatnot.

In New York, getting up and going to Brooklyn became my job. It was just what I did, with no thought of this or that ache or pain. I'd just give the best I had that day.

An art professor who sat ringside sketching some of us later emailed me expressing surprise that I had come from Michigan.

"You have that Brooklyn edge to you," she said.

So I fit in. But I'm not from Brooklyn; I'm from western Pennsylvania and live in Michigan. I can go anywhere, however, and find myself there.


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