As any writer or English major knows, finding oneself lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood with less-than-welcoming surroundings is an experience rife with opportunities for a story of transformation and self-discovery.
This story is one such example.
Several months ago, while I was still living in NYC, I exited the subway, walked the stairs onto the street, and stopped cold at a nearby intersection. I had no idea where I was. Instead of turning around and getting back on the subway, I stood on that street corner and cried. And cried. Self-pity shaken with alcohol makes for one pathetic cocktail. And wasn’t I entitled to feel sad? I was sure, so sure, that by that point in my life I wouldn’t be the kind of person who a) got absurdly lost (by any meaning of the word) and b) didn’t immediately know how to be found again.
If my high school Xanga posts — saved on my computer for posterity — are any indication, there were few things in life I looked forward to more than adulthood.
Adulthood, I surmised, afforded a certain level of clout and respect that would, among other things, no longer cause people to question why I needed to go to bed by 11. (As it turns out, this question still arose frequently when I lived in NYC. As an adult.)
Most importantly, I would be able to get things done.
These “things” are only slightly less vague now than they were when I was 16. Back then, I wanted to save the world. Today, I think I can content myself with improving a small pocket of it. (How is another story for another day.)
I was not really pursuing that particular goal the day I found myself at a literal and figurative intersection in east New York. The plan was to enjoy a boozy brunch followed by the Manhattan Pride Parade. The brunch part was easy enough: drink mimosas, punctuate that drinking with eggs Benedict. What followed was an emotional encounter that left me depressed and distracted.
Lost, and then really lost.
It took me a few minutes to notice that people were coming out of their houses to stare at the sad girl being sad for reasons that extended far beyond the booze and the earlier discussion and the loss of control. Even then, I saw myself with the eyes of those watchful neighbors and I wanted to roll my eyes at her, too. Oh, to be young and privileged. Instead, I called a cab, where I left behind the last of my cash and a decent amount of my dignity.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, that day signified the beginning of the end of my time in the city. Somehow, the trajectory I had planned to follow — it all started with post-college city living — left me feeling suddenly and irrevocably stuck.
Moving back to North Carolina was one way I could imagine regaining momentum.
Being an un(der)employed 25-year-old living with my parents again isn’t so bad, really. I’ve been pleased to discover that you really can go home again, and the people there (i.e. parents) will even feed you until you regain enough emotional strength to (hopefully) fight battles for those who don’t have the time or luxury of contemplating how to live their lives to the fullest.
Since ’tis the season for such things, anyway, I’d like to take a moment to say how thankful I am for such luxuries. I hope I can lead a life that proves it.
Like how sometimes I feed my parents, too. I recently made them these roasted Brussels sprouts that would, incidentally, make for a great Thanksgiving side dish. The original recipe can be found here. I adapted it to include more bacon because of this classic video and also because I felt like it.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apple:
Serves 4 or so
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 cups Brussels sprouts, peeled, ends trimmed, and halved or quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 apples, cored and diced
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bacon in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned (about 10 minutes).
2) Add Brussels sprouts in a single layer, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until the Brussels sprouts begin to brown lightly (about 15 minutes).
3) Add the apple as the final layer. Roast until Brussels sprouts are browned and tender and apple has softened (about 15 minutes).
4) Toss the finished roasted dish with vinegar and serve immediately.