Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The District Sleeps Alone

Kind of heart wrenching and beautiful and haunting...

 When I was 19 I lived in NYC; it was before I was "married" (I will never say it without quotations) and I had seriously thought about leaving the church. In fact, I had worked at a camp the previous summer and had written all kinds of angst-ridden journal entries about the disparity between what I perceived about the world and what I was taught to believe. Coming home that summer I took my sister out to dinner and cried to her over curly fries that I thought I had to leave the church. I had no money and nowhere to go and was scared, but I knew I didnt believe in it anymore.

My mom came home from directing a summer camp shortly thereafter and I got caught in an illogic loop. She got me a job offer to work as an assistant in the "Second Generation Department" in NYC. I agreed to do it; I thought it would give me a chance to get into the belly of the beast and figure out what the life I had been taught to lead was really all about. (What I found there is another story, but truth is had I found any true value at all I might not have left.)

I made $100 a month and lived off of rice and kimchee every day. Needless to say I got really skinny. When I was hired I was told I would get my own room in the building that the church owned on 43rd street. Instead, I got a space on floor in a room on the 6th level that I shared with about 11 Japanese and Taiwanese missionaries. They would stay up late talking and laughing and fall asleep listening to Celine Dion on easy listening stations.

In the middle of the night I would wake up and try to sneak over to turn the radio off. They would wake up at 4:30 am most mornings to go out fundraising. Although sometimes they got up earlier and I would sometimes wonder what exactly it was they were selling.

In order to sleep at night, I would put The Postal Service in my discman (remember those..?) and let the album lull me to dreams. Whenever I hear those songs, I am 19 again. And I get very sleepy. There are sirens outside and the girl next to me is crying because the bedbugs have bitten her really badly again and the bites are beginning to look like welts.

Sometimes, instead of sleeping, I would wander along 5th ave and watch the tourists and ask myself big questions about life late at night. Or write bad poetry.

This song makes me think about that weird time in my life where I lived in a large concrete city, and my whole world was a sleeping bag on the floor and that album. Listening to the song now, it has an entirely different meaning...but for some reason that was still a story I wanted to tell. Just so that someone knows.

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