So once again, I'm in between coasts and really don't know where life will take me although I have a feeling I'll end up back in New York. I guess it's pretty exciting but I definitely didn't spend enough time exploring San Francisco or the West Coast. And I really don't want to think about having to find a new apartment and roommates. I can't imagine I'll have as much luck as I did in SF at finding a great apartment and fantastic roommates, but we'll see.
This afternoon, I went out to lunch with my mom at a local cafe. She kind of tricked me. I thought we were going to go to the larger Cheesecake Factory because I've had an overwhelming and unexplainable craving for pasta for the last few days. But when I got in the car, she demanded we go some place more local. Okay.. I guess it was a misunderstanding. For me, going to local restaurants in my hometown is kind of torture. I really don't need to make small talk with people my mother knows from town. And I really don't need to be introduced as the "older daughter" only to get mistaken for a recent high school graduate. I kid you not. This happens every time. Actually, today's experience was so typical I could have just had deja vu.
Let me set the scene for you. We enter a nearly full cafe mostly filled with people over 50. My mother and I sit down right smack in the middle of two tables that are only about a foot apart from us. Right away, she says hello to the table next to us, introducing me.. blah blah blah. They make small talk. Two minutes later, she recognizes the woman on her other side. They make small talk. She congratulates the woman because she had recently heard her son was engaged. I ask who her son is. She says that I'm probably too young and don't know him. Yup. Her son is 5 years younger than me and is friends with a childhood friend's younger brother. I don't know him because he's younger than me. She apologizes for the mistake and the whole table nods in agreement that I'm better off looking way younger than I am.
After dropping my mother off, I head to the Riverside Square Mall to return a few things. It is incredibly upscale and usually quiet although to my delight, they have recently opened an H&M. I walk around admiring the hair of an Orthodox woman who is, from what I gather, shopping with her husband. She looks incredibly young and I try to figure out how she got her hair to be so thick and shiny with a near professional blow out until I realize, oh yeah, it's a wig. Orthodox women have to shave their heads and wear wigs when they get married. A few minutes later, I enter Victoria's Secret where I hear the Pains of Being Pure at Heart playing in the store. I'm stunned. One of the band members went to both my high school and college. In fact, one time sophomore year in high school, we both got yelled at because we slid out my bedroom window and hung out on my roof. According to my dad, we could have fallen through and broken the roof. Right.
I make my last stop at Barnes & Noble. I would have preferred waiting to purchase a new Moleskin at Borders assuming they carry them and they go on sale, but my Moleskin needs were pressing. As many of my friends know, I'm obsessed with notebooks. I stare at the selections, intensely imagining myself with either a hard covered or soft covered black Moleskin. Red or black. I curse myself for leaving my hard covered, black Moleskin in San Francisco and finally settle on a perfect replacement - soft covered black. My obsessiveness in finding the perfect notebook ties back to a need to start a new chapter in my life. If, God forbid, I made the wrong notebook choice, my new life would be off to a wrong start, right? Yes, knowing my compulsions and quarks in the first step to recovery. It takes me another 10 minutes to choose the perfect Thank You note cards for my job interviews. I finally settle on a delicate case of cards that feature an Eiffel Tower with a scripted "merci" in magenta. So here I am entering a new chapter of my life - a potential new job, definitely a different area of advertising, a new decade (30 in April), potentially a new apartment and even new city (Brooklyn). But on my journey, I have equipped myself with the same type of notebook that I used to plan out my change. The cards I chose reflect my love of Paris and magenta. And actions told me that our purchases strongly reflect who we are in deeper and nuanced ways.
After carefully selecting my purchases, I head to the cash register. With a sinking feeling, I recognize the woman at the register. I vaguely remember her being my boss at some job I had about 10 years ago. For some reason, I hope she doesn't recognize me, but she does. She says my face looks so familiar. I completely get her wrong even though I rarely try to guess people's name. Her name is not Dorothy and she's not my boss from Clinique. Nope. She worked with me at B. Dalton, the now defunct bookstore, previously owned by Barnes and Noble. It was one of my first after school jobs that I insisted on getting my senior year of high school. It's where I first heard about Harry Potter way back in 1999 when they were considered just children's books. It's where I first worked in a place that didn't involve sweating in a camp t-shirt. And here she was, working the cash register. Like me, she has probably gone through many hardships and experiences over the last 12 years but honestly hadn't aged a bit. The recent New York Times article about the failings of the publishing industry flashed in my mind. I think about how strongly I'm contemplating finally purchasing a Kindle. We both genuinely smile and wish each other well. As I walk away, I wonder, is this a new chapter? Or am I re-reading a different version of the same story?