Monday, December 7, 2009

Up in the Air

Imagine you're wearing a backpack. Feel the weight of the straps on your shoulders. Fill the backpack with everything in your home. Pictures, linens, your clothes, that antique table that belonged to your great-grandmother. Now, set it on fire. Burn it all up. It's a powerful image. At first thought terrifying and second thought a relief. A chance to start fresh.

This idea terrifies me. It's part of a motivational speech given by George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, in "Up in the Air."

Ryan is a traveler. His job requires him to fly across the country. He spends more days traveling each year than at home. He doesn't really have a home, and when he's there, he's bored. He enjoys his life. It's a life of solitude though. He isn't really connected to his family and doesn't have many friends. He might meet someone on the trip, but that kind of friendship is fleeting.

I'm like this in a way. There are differences. I have an apartment. It's filled with all that stuff that should be put in the backpack. It's not bad that I have those things, but when I moved across town, I refused the thought of ridding my life of some of them. I did throw many things away, but for some things that wasn't an option even if I didn't have the space. My life seems to be made up of what I own. Do I own enough designer labels? The newest fragrance, ipod, television? Are my shoes the latest trend? My life defined by things!! Back to the connection between Ryan and me. We both enjoy being alone, but that is an armor. We both secretly long to be a part of something.

This is my life. I'm beginning to have a greater understanding of my inability to commit. My intimacy issues. I enjoy living alone, but I also enjoy hanging out with people. There is a reason that I would rather be at work or hanging out in the lounge most days. I want the camaraderie that comes with friendship. I enjoy when people are actually glad to see me. Who doesn't. It makes me realize that for all the game I talk about wanting to be alone, I want to be around people more. Not all people. NYC is tough as it is full of people and some of those people are idiots. The people I'm referring too are the gang you hang with after work or on the weekend or one night a week. Sometimes alone time is exactly what I want and need. But a lot of the time, fellowship is what I need.

This weekend I stayed at my friend Michael's house in Astoria. If you read this blog, you know that the upstairs neighbor had guests. I couldn't/wouldn't risk the noise and sleep deprivation that comes with feeling trampled on my elephants. Michael agreed to let me crash on his sofa Friday and Saturday.

Saturday night after work, I finally made it to his house and poured myself a glass of wine, warmed up my leftovers from the previous night and settled into the coziness of his sofa. Not long after my plate was empty, we started to watch Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." Shortly into the movie, Michael received a text from his neighbor across the street. She had just made spiked cider and invited him over. He asked if I wanted to go and I said I was game is he was. He got dressed and grabbed the plate of cookies/brownies I had baked the night before and we headed across the street.

Sitting in the living room with her, her roommate, and a friend of hers, I realized what my life is missing. I don't have that kind of "hanging out with friends" fellowship in my own life. I need it. I think I actually crave it.

I want to have my own space, but I want people to chill with. Living rooms to hang out in while telling stories and laughing. I want to shrink my carbon foot print, but increase the size of my life foot print in the world. I want to be happy. Two thousand nine has been such a year of change and realization and learning for me. It hasn't been a bad year, but it's been hard.

Thankfully, I do have a family that I care about and who cares about me. I do have friends here who want to hang out with me. I have to be willing to go hang out. I have to be comfortable with the alone time. I have to create the path I want. I refuse to come home to an empty home. It may be filled with only me and my furniture, but that doesn't mean it's empty. I guess that means I want to fill my life with something other than my own desire to be alone, surrounded by the armor I've built around me. I want my life to equal more than the sum of the stuff I own.

Maybe it's time to fill the backpack and light the fire.