A less than glamorous new york life.
This week my boyfriend told me he didn’t want me to die. This struck me as very romantic.
I have been rather sickly in the past couple of weeks. I have been feeling stressed which has led to an exciting roller coaster of constricted breathing, short-tempered-ness, and barely contained hysteria. One of the most interesting if totally banal parts of being in, you know, a loving relationship is that how you are feeling totally affects the other person. When I can’t sleep, he can’t sleep. When I’m grumpy, he suffers the fallout. And when I can’t breathe, he worries.
What a terrible, wonderful, awful thing love is.
I already feel like an idiot most of the time anyway.
In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth says, “I am determined that nothing but the deepest love could ever induce me into matrimony.” And, as with most things, I agree with her. But the problem with using Jane Austen as your moral compass and life choice guide is that we never get to see what the love that induces Lizzie to marry actually looks like. What does “the deepest love” look like in an every day sense? Does Darcy do the dishes? Is Elizabeth passive-aggressive? Do they have to institute date nights to keep the spark going? At the end of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are married, their love finally articulated and made official out in the world. But it’s still largely silent glances and meaningful politenesses, theoretically communicating their deep affection telepathically.
Needless to say, New York dating is hardly ruled by the same niceties of Austen’s well-mannered world. A girl in the city can barely count on being treated to a drink. I, for example, once split the cost of a slice on a first date. When this is the standard, I can’t help but wonder what “the deepest love” looks like. Is it too soon to despair?
Perhaps, though, New York’s lonely Austenites can take solace in the psychological spaces she left us in her love stories. Perhaps the delicious tension and prolonged courtship of Pride and Prejudice are deep because we romantics of the world make them so. Maybe, when the time is right - and when I meet someone with ten thousand a year, at least - going dutch on a slice of pizza will be a profound exchange. When she has little but her charms to recommend her, all a girl can do is dream.
Yesterday I cried in a crowd of people again.
The ‘again’ is important. In this city, a lot of private things happen in public - fights, mascara application, first kisses - and crying. Lots of crying. It’s not unusual to walk by a woman with wet tracks running down her cheeks while she otherwise goes about her business on 6th Avenue. We leave these people room - there’s no need to ask if they’re okay - but my heart softens a little every time.
My public tears yesterday happened in the Museum of Modern Art. I visited the museum on one of my first trips to the city alone. I cried then, too. That day, I wandered the galleries casually walking by paintings by dead white guys that I had, up until that point, only ever experienced through books from the inside of a concrete campus library in snowy Montreal. Finding myself surrounded by so many things that had previously only inhabited my imagination overwhelmed me. Then, being the demure Canadian I was/am, I quickly wiped away the tears casting sidelong glances around the room, making sure no one had witnessed my moment of weakness.
It may be a testament to have far I’ve come, or maybe just how different my life is now, that yesterday I bore my tears like a badge of honor. Again, I found myself in the galleries of MoMA, having just interviewed for a job, another moment I had only ever dreamed of. As I sat dwarfed in front of Water Lilies, my resume and writing samples clutched in hand, I let myself be overwhelmed in that sea of German tourists. I cried again, and not for the last time, in public. If anyone noticed, and I’m not sure they did, I hope they understood that it wasn’t because I was sad.