Into The Arms Of America

Abbi & MeOk, so here’s the quandary.

I love New York City, but thirteen years later, the place is killin’ me.

I don’t just mean the fumes, shadows or concrete. And it’s more than the pace, noise, and frenzy. I’m talkin’ about politics, aspiration — the whole ladder climbing thing.

A few weeks ago, a younger friend and I were sipping homemade margaritas from the thirtieth floor sun terrace of Abbi and my building. All of Midtown was splayed out below us. We were a little buzzed.

“Man,” he said, “You’ve made it.”

“I dunno’ about that,” I said.

“C’mon: the job, the wife, the rock ‘n roll.”

I mean, listen, I’m really, really happy with who I am, and where I am. And I’m really appreciative and all. But I won’t front; I’m considering my next step. Correction: we’re considering our next steps. There will be home ownership. And children. And it could all be somewhere other than New York City. (Or not.)

Now, I’m not talking next week, or next month. But, yunno… soon.

So every time I leave Manhattan, I ponder: Does this look like the shape our life will take?

This weekend finds Abbi and I just a few blocks from where I grew up in suburban Philadelphia. It’s lush here. Bubbling streams (I caught a large mouth bass in the backyard). Country clubs. Pretty conservative.

But I look around out here amidst the great unwashed and kinda’ freak out.

Example. We made two visits to the King of Prussia Mall this weekend. Yunno, for wedding returns. (Yeah, still.) What a nightmare! It was like a rest stop: Superhighway, supersize me. “Outside it’s America,” I kept thinking. Dudes in half-shirts, women in leopard prints, squawking kids.


Today we went to the movies. (Yeah, “Ironman,” six weeks late.) Lots of overweight. Lots of t-shirts and mandals. Squawking kids.

Wait, this sounds all surface. And maybe it is. But nothing makes me more anxious than the mall, or the popcorn line at the local cineplex.

Take the flipside, though.

We just had dinner at the country club. The view was nice: the eighteenth hole, last-night’s fireworks tonight. The food was average. The men’s room was impressive (the locker room, really; aisles and aisles of hair cream). The tennis whites? A bit much. The air kisses? A little nausiating.

I guess I’m talking about socio-economics.

And I’m sure there’s somewhere in between.

But like everything else in my life — or, the future of my life — it’s a complete mystery.

Peter Buck always says R.E.M. never set out to be anything, they set out to not to be something.

It’s not like I ever imagined that thirty-six and married was gonna’ look like this. It’s way different, and way better.

So I guess I’ll figure out what that something looks like when we get to that next something.

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