Home. I touched it for a moment and now I am back in motion, back on the road, on to seek a new adventure. I’ve forgotten how to stand still. It hurts. But this motion is painful too. In the good way, I think. The way it feels when you have eaten too much candy and it starts to make your teeth sensitive but you don’t regret the sugar you have consumed, and if there were more in front of you, you would eat that too, with complete disregard for the discomfort. The taste lingering on your tongue makes it all worthwhile.
This morning I was walking on the beach with my mother and brother in sunny California during a quick 24 hour visit in-between driving cross country from New York City while shooting an independent film, and flying from LAX to Italy for the NYU Writers in Florence summer program. We were talking about how I planned to use the plane ride to edit an essay I am planning on submitting to Mercer St, NYU’s collection of the previous years essays, and how I might like to visit a special someone in a distant and tropical land over the summer after I return from Italy and in between working and getting ready to head back to New York. My mothers face crinkled in the sun as she said, “wow, you have always had a tremendous tenacity for more,” and continued to include that perhaps I am “an addict.” Addicted to what I am not sure. Life?
My first instinct was to become defensive, unsure of whether this was a compliment. But instead I shook my head yes and agreed, realizing that yes indeed this fact is true. I do have a tremendous tenacity for more.
I thought of a birthday party I attended when I was three years old. The one where my mother found me in a forgotten corner of the birthday girl’s house with a bag full of candy that I had snatched swiftly as it rained down from a beaten piñata and then slunk off like a ninja to eat it alone and without my mother noticing. I later proceeded to throw a sugar enhanced fit over not getting to keep the “my little pony” toy we brought for the birthday girl as a gift, and my mother had to drag me out the front door as I screamed, “but she has so many.” The embarrassment of this prohibited us from ever associating with those people again.
I am always the last person left standing around at the party not wanting to leave, trying to hang on to something–a feeling–attention–love–connection–lack of aloneness–laughter–A chance to hear or tell a joke–I don’t know. I am that awkward person that the host can’t get ride of. At sleepovers I was always the last kid to fall asleep, nudging my friends to stay awake and play with me until they were utterly irritated. Sometimes I would lie awake and cry after they had drifted off. Other times I would wake them back up, or encourage other kids to help me freeze their underwear. Other times I would wake their parents, desperate for anyone who could help me keep the fun times rolling.
At age ten I knocked on my neighbors doors when the sun went down to kindly ask them to pull their cars out and turn their headlights on so that I could continue practicing my ice skating routines on my rollerblades well into the evening without being in total darkness, bloodying my knees with falls and going home only when my mother enforced the end of practice time with the scary-mom voice that was enough to make your butthole tremble and was reserved for times when you had REALLY pissed her off.
I hate when Christmas ends. I am still eating stale home-baked cookies a week after it’s all over. I only take the Christmas tree down once it is dried out to the point of becoming a fire hazard. More is never enough. I like to tell myself it’s okay because it is not “things” that I am lusting after, but experiences, feelings. Time spent with loved ones, the experience of letting a delicious piece of chocolate melt on my tongue, laughing until my belly hurts, telling or receiving a good story, giving or receiving love. I don’t see the harm. Yet anything in excess is bad right? I’m not sure.
I suppose this “tremendous tenacity for more,” is the reason that at 29, I have just finished my first year of college, dragging out my youth and begging the gods for more more more time to sort my life out, to be a kid, to not grow up, to learn how and what I want to do with my life and get really fucking good at it, to not go home, or fall asleep, or turn into a pumpkin. I fluctuate between feeling immense freedom and sheer embarrassment at what I am doing. At times feeling like a pathetic lunatic who should have their shit together by now, and other times feeling like the lone sheep that broke away from the herd and is slowly realizing that they are in fact a wolf, and better to figure it out late than never. Who knows if that makes sense. But the point is that I am never satisfied with the amount of time. I never feel complete with anything. Everything always feels slightly undone. Like one more moment could be spent in a space before I move out, one more edit could be made to that essay, one more thing could be said to the person I love, one more bite of chocolate would be better. Everything comes back to sugar with me…
I am learning to embrace this side of myself though, this tenacity for more. I think I was stifling it for most of my 20‘s, holding back and pretending that a little bit was enough for fear of appearing vulnerable, for asking the world for too much. And now I find myself rolling around in it gluttonously, asking the world for more more more openly, giddily, putting it all on the table, asking for seconds, refills, refunds, all in the name of no regrets and at the risk of looking like a complete asshole, fool, embarrassment, idiot. If I have learned anything it’s that we are here to poke at life. That we are on this planet for but a moment, and there’s no point in holding back I love you’s in the name of looking cool. I’m not cool. Never will be. Might as well go full force dorky and stop trying to fool anyone right?
I am shamelessly embracing my tenacity for more, though my mother is convinced I am taking on a lot–possibly too much–and that “everything that goes up must come down,” inferring that all this time spent throwing caution to the wind may come back to “bite me.” And I have to ask–so what if it does? Life is short right? I am not recklessly doing harm to myself or anyone else. I am just leaning in to life so hard that it looks absolutely insane to anyone who is accustomed to seeing me hiding from it with the blankets pulled over my head. I’ve pulled the gear out of the machinery. I’ve gone rogue. I’m in uncharted territory. Dangerous? Possibly. But can it really be bad if it’s making me this damn happy.
I continue to be terrified. Every day. Every moment. But perhaps I am getting used to the feeling of terror, starting to like it even, crave it. I desire the things that scare me. And not in the let me swim with the sharks without the cage cause it freaks me out–harmful, (stupid) kind of way, but in the–this is only scaring me because of my ego kind of way, or the–goddam I am being a pussy, just go ahead and face that thing that you want so bad and is scaring the shit out of you kind of way.
So onward I go, excited by the challenge of devouring this next adventure. Or it devouring me, who knows. I am sitting on the plane traveling to Florence Italy for a month of writing. I know no one. I am writing this from the sky, tremendously glad that I didn’t get scared enough to back out of doing this, that I did apply for the scholarships that would make it possible.
“It’s like you just fell out of the womb and are awed by everything for the first time,” my mom said to me with a half smile, half disgusted look as we sauntered up the hill from the beach and back to her house. I had to laugh. It’s true. I’m just so happy that at 29 I finally was ready to get born ya know?