Four years ago, one of my best friends in the whole world – the woman who was my pen pal in seventh grade – flew over from Ireland for an intervention in the guise of a visit. It wasn’t until two days before she went home that she confessed that one of the big reasons she came to see me was out of some concern – I’d used to do a lot of adventurous stuff, she said, but in the past couple years she’d seen me gradually do less and less, and treat myself less and less well, and that was really bothering her. Be better to yourself, she urged me. Do more.
It was one of the best things anyone’s ever done for me, but I wasn’t still completely in a place where I could. I tried, a little – but money and energy and chance and fate were still not quite on my side.
…But that was then. And this year, I think, is finally now.
For the past week, I’ve been reading and re-reading the different route maps for two different commuter railroads in the city. Maybe I couldn’t afford an Amtrak train trip anywhere, I thought, but what about Metro-North? Can I get anywhere cool on that, for cheap? And how about New Jersey Transit? Or the Long Island Railroad? And what about that bus that can get me up into the Catskills, where else could I go on that?…And wait, while I’m at it, where can I stay in those cities?…
By the end of the week, I was slapping a big wall map of Eastern New York State over my desk and putting up color-coded pins in different cities based on what transit system would get me there, and whether I could stay overnight in any AirBnB home stay. And I’ve been repeatedly looking at the same two cabins for rent in the Catskills, and have gone all the way into imagining myself sitting outside of one on a deck, in the spring sunshine, a cup of coffee and a book at my elbow and my feet propped up, looking out over the mountains as a deer picks its way through the yard before me. And I’m seeing this all with the certainty that I’m definitely going to do this.
And it’s the same certainty I’ve brought to a guidebook I just got – something dealing with unusual experiences to be had in New York City. Things like kayaking among all the islands of Jamaica Bay, or offering myself up as “rail meat” at a sailing club, or an hour in a sensory deprivation tank or an archery class in Queens or a Holi parade in Flushing that’s over 20 years old or free monthly lectures at the Museum of Natural History, all this….stuff that I’d not really been motivated to look into before and it’s just been quietly going on all this time, and I’ve gone from not knowing it was happening straight to Googling “DIY holi color powder recipe” because are you kidding me I am so there.
Some years ago, about the same time as my friend came over, I read something in passing where someone talked about how they’d agreed something was a good idea, but weren’t yet ready to start making it happen; they described their mental state as “I haven’t yet gone from ‘that’s a good idea’ to ‘I will need the following supplies’.” I think the fact that I’m gathering supplies already means I’m there.