We are a few days shy of the three week mark of Operation East Coast and I still feel like I am in a fog and unsure of where I slept last night. The quiet of New Jersey nights is, and will always be, as foreign to me as ketchup on a hot dog. The Cicadas chirp and the crickets sing while I lie in bed and wonder when the L.A. car alarms will whisper sweet swear words into my left ear.
There are no young drunks stumbling past our bedroom window wearing their ironic hipster best while pontificating on life’s little trials and love’s tragic tribulations. There are no trash trucks backing up to the beep that launched a thousand cries or homeless trannies fighting in the alley over who gets the striped tube top and who has to sleep on the newly rescued yoga mat that could easily double for a used pantiliner.
No, here in the land my man calls home, all is quiet on their eastern front and everyone has a big back yard that smells as good as it sounds. My parent’s house in Massachusetts, though different in set up and convenience, is about the same in calm and quietness. Nights are filled with tranquil times and intensely solid sleep and days are shady and reflective.
If this trip were a coin, one side would be as shiny as a sterling silver dollar fresh off the truck from QVC’s One-Day Commemorative Coin Extravaganza. Without a scratch or a smudge the coin would show the love I have felt during sparkling visits with my immediate family and my oldest friends and the joy I have felt reconnecting with the different branches of my funky and tangled family tree; cousins, aunts, uncles and pals all touchstones along my cobblestone street. A lake house in Wisconsin, my high school home in Massachusetts, my college BFF and her New Hampshire heaven house and a pub in White Plains, New York all witnessed the loopy love I have barfed up these last few weeks.
The other side of the coin is tarnished with the sadness and heartache of life’s fragility and death’s inevitability. Since arriving in New Jersey the trip has taken a tough turn and become a lesson in patience and gratitude and the customary cliché of putting it all in perspective. Sitting on the sidelines of a shitty, unfair playing field I have had to helplessly watch my husband stare into the vacant eyes of a father no longer there while his mother holds onto a hand no longer able and a love no longer loving.
Take a moment out of your day and appreciate your good health and the mundane moments of murky happiness. Then lean over and kiss the one closet to you, even if they are being a grade-A asshole. Then pour yourself a top-shelf, two-fingered cocktail and pray to whatever god you choose to strike you dead when your time comes, that your last moments on this ever-muddled earth will indeed be pristine, and perfectly painless.
But do not forget to hoard the expired painkillers and mini-bar nips. Just in case your god didn’t get your text.