Leah, my roommate, who is perhaps the most extraordinary adventurer, risk-taker, and action-doer I have met in my young life (and she doesn't read my blog, so I have no real impetus to write this about her, except that it is true), is good at doing things that make her happy. For the greater part of this year, I was convinced that the things that made me happy should be the things that made Leah happy, or that made teachers happy, or that made attractive boys happy, or that made my cats happy, or that made the writers of magazines happy. I had a very strict "supposed to" notion about the way to live my life. Leah goes dancing at bounce clubs in neon-colored outfits, and therefore I should go to bounce clubs in neon-colored outfits. Teachers like to sit over cocktails and bemoan the amount of work they have to do, and therefore I should accept every invitation to sip Manhattans in a dingy bar, and I should come prepared with a Best Of list for the week's misfortunes in the classroom. My cats eat salmon and chicken liver soaked in gravy while making growling noises, and therefore... you get the idea. So on and so forth.
But in the car the other day, I said I wasn't really all that happy. Leah said, "You should go out more." I thought about that. I've gone out quite a lot this year. "But going out doesn't really make me happy, I don't think," I said. And then Leah said something that should have been so obvious to me, but which I had not been able to wrap my mind around up to that point.
"Sophie, aren't you the one who is always telling me to be okay with the person I am? Aren't you always telling me to have confidence in doing the things that make me happy?"
I said, "I like to go to museums." Leah said, "Then you should go to museums."
I lay in bed for a while and thought about the combination that made me happiest, and which was most lacking from my life. I came up with this: exploring, slowly, alone. There's just so much premium placed on having fun in public; in enjoying yourself and letting others know that you are enjoying yourself, so you can create an image of Smiling Face Dancing In The Street. Well, there's no written rule that says you have to have a partner in crime.
On Thursday I took off running.
Or rather, I rode my bike. The rules for this day were that I had to stop any time anything interested me, and take my time to take it in. In general, I have decided I am a very slow-moving person. So I was going to let myself be a very slow moving person.
I did wipe out pretty hard around a corner on my bike. I am actually a really bad cyclist. I think I crash more than any person I have ever met (I average one major spill a month, which my roommates attest is pathetic). I am in a perpetual state of looking like a map of the world charted out in continent-sized bruises. Two things I can conclude from this: 1. I either definitely should or should not join the roller derby. Should, because I can fall with great ease; should not because I fall with great frequency. And 2. I absolutely, desperately need to drop all fussy funding issues I may have with my bank account and buy a freaking bike helmet. I just know that one day I'll be grateful.
I spent the whole afternoon doing nothing but exploring a city I wish I knew better. I saw rope swings, bedazzled bicycles, people taking apart Mardi Gras floats, and a girl roller skating. Instead of a camera, I brought a sketch book. I used to be very interested in sketchbooks, but that has taken the back seat in the past few years, as everything has gotten fasterfasterfaster, and I "haven't had time" to sit and draw. Lucky for me, I met Sam Alden, whose blog is testament to the fact that he sits for ten-hour periods (I'm not kidding) doing nothing but drawing. I bought a couple of line-free Moleskines (pretentious enough for you?), and dove back into it. I am a little horrified to find that I creepily seem to only have the ability to draw little girls. At the bottom of this entry I've posted some of the sketches of the girl roller skating.
Another big revelation of the weekend: it is the fourth time I've visited a single spot along the bayou to read (the weather could only be described as "hideously perfect" yesterday), and I realized it's my favorite space in the entire city. See the self-consciously-snapped photo at right. What is it about waterways? I spent four hours there. My leggings got very dusty.
I'm ashamed to say it (ashamed because I want to be content with winter), but I am really ready for spring. The magnolia trees are blooming now, coaxing the warm weather and soft rain. Mmm.
But now comes the hard part: The week starts again. Back to the routine, back to the late nights and early mornings; frozen lunches and sore legs; stolen jelly beans from the prize drawer. No time to read the paper (and the world should know that all I ever want to do is read the paper). It's a challenge. Good thing I've been reading fucking Spiritual Midwifery (seriously) for my book club (I do like book clubs. They are one of those social gatherings -- like Crafternoons, Wednesday Night Vegan Dinners, and Radical Educator Meetings -- that I find intensely valuable). Those crazy hippies help me sleep at night.
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