With New York's skies greyed over and the streets blanketed with a steady sheen of crisp, rainy sleet, I returned to my office today in relatively the same state in which I left it this past Thursday -- longing for vacation.
It's not really the rain that covers the entire city in a dreary darkness; it's not the cold that penetrates your entire being, no matter how heavy a coat you're wearing or how many layers are covering the skin; it's not the thought of another winter oncoming like a tractor trailer without brakes skidding towards me on a sheet of ice; it's just the malaise of there not being an end in sight.
I made my way downtown this afternoon, delayed by a couple of semi-significant errands, and as I made my way through the harried throngs of umbrella-carrying obstacles, my iPod was the only thing exuding warmth. Aside from the fact that the iPod is one of four items that I can't head to the office without (the other three being my wallet, my cellphone and the Palm), I find it curious that having an iPod enrolls me in a sort-of worldwide fraternity of people who listen to their music when- and wherever they please; yet, while this in theory should bring us all together, what it really does is enable us to shut the rest of the world out, whether on subways, buses, at the gym or on city streets. Somewhere around 2:30 I finished with one agency and was on my way to another and enjoyed "Going To California" by Led Zeppelin, followed by "40 Mile Town" by Eric Johnson. Normally, trudging through the gloom that is the first day back to work after a holiday weekend/season is a fairly miserable experience. However, those two songs reminded me, wham-bam, of my other half, and it actually brightened up the afternoon, if just a little bit.
Speaking of my other half, Kaia and I spent the last few days enjoying much of nothing beyond spending time with each other. I took Friday off so we could spend some time alone, and we wound up doing exactly that. Saturday, we ended up doing some errands and some little things that needed to be addressed, and then that night we met up with friends in midtown and did dinner and the New Year's celebration in a restaurant downstairs and the lounge upstairs, respectively. In short, it turned out to be fun and relatively mellow -- not too loud, not too crazy, and not too much bullshit, which is exactly what we wanted. We got to the restaurant around 9:30 and wound up leaving around 1:30, closing the place down and being weary, spent and all smiles. We originally had planned to spend the night alone, but opted to spend the night instead with friends, and it turned out to be the right choice. We met some old friends, met some new ones, and, despite this being our first New Year's Eve in the same city, we really had a blast.
The night following was a mini-party; a bunch (about a dozen) of us got together at Bowlmor downtown, a bowling/party space that is more like a club than a bowling alley. Bowlmor comprises several floors so once we found our group -- we arrived a bit late with friends with whom we'd hung out at at my place earlier -- we had a lot of fun. None of us had been bowling in awhile, so everyone pretty much headed out sore, achy and tired, but we all -- again -- had a lot of fun.
Yesterday being the bonus, we wound up spending the entire day lounging around and didn't bother getting dressed. I had a pair of pajama bottoms and Kaia in her nightie; by the time we had any motivation to do anything, it was almost dark. We powered through a few movies and ordered dinner, but overall it was just about catching up on R&R. Mission accomplished.
People talk about the "holiday blues," suggesting that being alone during the holiday season -- Thanksgiving through New Year's Day -- is the toughest time of the year. And while on some level that might be true, what I've realized is that it's not being alone that's the problem, it's being with the wrong person. Whether that turns out to mean by yourself or with a significant other that should be anything but, it occurred to me that with the right person, two can move mountains, span the miles, and be far greater than the mere sum of its parts.
That might not be true for everyone, but it is for me, and if nothing else, that's more than all I ever need.