an urban lifestyle + travel blog by liz norment.

Tag: words

straphanger

a straphanger’s tale.

in WORDS
the relentless anxiety that pours in, wondering if this train will be mine as it is approaching the station. I size up everyone- boy appearing not to give a shit about anyone else, with skateboard. where will he put that skateboard? we won’t have space for it. man looking nervously important, with briefcase. he is worried about getting to work on time, I can tell. and he probably showered this morning. I’ll stick near him. woman holding child’s hand, using it as some sort of free pass to the front, pushing and prodding expectantly. I feel sympathetic while also wondering if there is some sort of child rental service for situations like this. I feel guilty for thinking that but also highly entertained. shit’s funny man. besides, on the subway platform we are all the same. we all deserve a spot and don’t deserve a spot. there are no rules here, no lines. I feel the thought creep into my head- I’ve been here the longest, they must know. I dismiss it just as quickly. no one cares. i don’t care.
an automated announcement dictates what the countdown clock tells us- 9 minutes until the next train. NINE MINUTES. it’s an eternity. I must get on the next train, the one that’s coming barreling down the tunnel and I don’t dare scoot back, risking my coveted spot on the edge. I realize if I had been blessed with my mother’s breasts I would likely be nicked. I’m momentarily grateful as the whoosh of wind hits me and i lean slightly into the other penguins standing upon the ledge, i don’t care, i won’t budge. I’m betting that the doors open exactly in front of me. I know if it’s just a few inches off I’ll be pushed back too far.
a muffled announcement tries to calm the mounting anxiety. “there is another train directly behind this train! do not try to get into this train! there will be another train approaching the station immediately behind it.” no there won’t be man, stop lying to us. we all saw the clock. we believe the clock. it’s nine minutes away and we will all be fired in that nine minutes and I am getting on THIS train.
the doors open and we all hold our breath and squeeze in. we grumble. we cling tighter to our items. it closes and we exhale, knees and stomachs and shoulders filling the gaps as we expand together. we choose silly things to hold on to for dear life. I am pinching an inch-wide sliver of plastic on the ceiling and have my chin nearly resting on my neighbor to steady myself.  everyone smells of coffee and their own apartments, it’s familiar and invasive and someone is smelling you. you wonder how you smell to other people.
i make eye contact with someone 15 bodies and three feet away. we both exchange the exact same look that says,”this is fucking ridiculous and no one should have to stand this and there must be a better option and this is the most efficient public transit according to whom and I think that guy’s back hair just went in my nose and I don’t even want to go to work! and we live in the greatest fucking city in the entire fucking world.”
and then the train lurches to a stop and everyone collectively groans and the doors open and we spill out like bats from a cave and we all move intentionally and rapidly forward and up, ascending, together.

<3L.

Up in the Air | Words Written on Airplanes.

in WORDS

 

what is it about being on an airplane that makes you want to write? i think it’s the charged and temporary captivity. you’re moving yet nearly immobile, you’re up there, you’re somewhere, you’re a little scared and maybe these will be your last words. maybe they won’t be. maybe they’ll just be words written on airplanes. i’ve compiled some such tales below, snippets from trips, simple plane text. come along with me.

 

Plane Meals.

I always eat everything on the little airplane meal. every fucking bit of it. I use all of the butter on my bread. I pick up and scarf down every single grape. I scrape around the perimeter of the little cup of salad dressing with my finger and make sure u get it all. I eat the dessert right away, I save nothing. This is mine. and then i package it all back up into the little boxes and secure the little flaps and am painfully content with my compact little meal.

Plane Time.

Why do they create a new time zone on the plane? It was 10am in New York and 4am in Hawaii and in 2 hours they served us dinner. The lights were out and they ordered all the shades such tight. We were to be quiet. We were to sleep. Breakfast was served at 2pm Hawaii time, 7pm New York time. Breakfast. Do they know some sort of jet lag equation I don’t know about? Because this feels like forced adult nap time and I do NOT like that.

 

Plane Sky.

the sky here is vast, eternal. its liberation hangs heavy, smothering the landscape. breathing life into rolling hills,flat plains, shallow rivers before settling slowly and heavy between buildings, over rooftops, streets, park benches. it colors I. The gray, the sidewalks and stone with tones of orange and red, altering their natural state to be part of this sunset, this experience. An opening and a closing. A slow drift toward the night. It gently touched my skin, kissed my cheek, penetrated my soul as I stepped off a plane 7 months ago. weary and excited, displaced, it embraced me. It grazed my summer-tanned skin. It lay before my uncertain feet. it filled my heart with light and lightness, a tangible warmth, an intentional deterrent from any former plans. and it will stay with me, additional baggage as I handover my boarding pass and step onto a plane. it will fill in the gap as my soul splits again, leaving behind the jagged ephemera of my being, to hold and be held, to be guarded and used. it will occupy this space.

Just plane sleepy.

The guy behind me is yawning audibly in such a melodic way I don’t even want to listen to music. my headphones are in but the sound is off. he sounds like an adorable little bunny desperate to notify anyone with earshot that he cute but he sleepy.

 

Plane Short Story I haven’t finished.

“I’ll get us fired up,” he said with easy confidence as he rolled away his black suitcase swiftly. Dunkin donuts was supposed to open at 5am, everyday. all they had to do was put the donuts into the case, donuts that had been pre-made in an industrial kitchen in queens, and fill the coffee filters with grinds and turn on the machines. that’s it. those simple activities, by 5am, every morning. Here it was 5:18 and he was waiting in an ever-increasing line with his co-pilot. Not his life partner or partner in crime, his actual co-pilot. The man with whom he’d flown over 700 times, each trusting the other at the helm as himself, knowing the others’ actions and reactions, anxieties and (excitements) before they even occurred. So, he’d get the plane fired up while Jim got the coffees. Fuel for the pilots so they could fly the plane that would take us all out of snowy New York City right to south beach. It see me like a glamorous job, jet setting around the world, seeing the sun rise and set over the horizon in any number of countries each year, appearing and disappearing out of sight through the lens of the windshield as if you were the last person on earth. And that was definitely the draw at first- that freedom, that independence. But now, what kept him in the air, flying from destination to destination, arriving, departing, was the sense of complete control. Of importance, of discipline. The constant routine and processes that were now second nature- they were his refuge, his sanctuary. The buzzing machines and beeping gauges sung like soft, calming hymns as he meticulously prepared for takeoff. Jim would come back with the coffees and maybe some sort of sweet confection that he always hid between them until they were about to taxi down the runway. “Hey-” he’d say, his eyes sparkling mischievously. “There’s a little something else here for ya, maverick.” and playfully punched him in the shoulder. Jim was only 5 years his senior but this was their dynamic- the playful, caring older brother type. And so he played along. It have them a sense of family which was often missing up in the air. Which he felt more than ever now.

 

Plane Sadness.
I love you.
Te quiero.
in each of our languages, a confession, a promise. in three words or two, a feeling shared, a joining of our hearts that won’t be broken by time or distance. a beauty in the blending of his culture and mine. a steady embrace. an imploring stare. an impenetrable sadness. a goodbye.

at the terminal gate I look in his eyes, my hand cupped softly around the curve of his jaw. Feeling he warmth of his skin, so familiar. and with hot tears swelling in my eyes, I finally squeeze his arm and walk towards security, knowing that with each step, we will grow farther apart. he watched me from the other side. he gave me our secret wave and an assuring smile. I blew him a kiss and my heart ached. It begged me not to go. when I finally looked back and saw that he was gone my heart waited, waited, inhaled and finally receded back back far beneath to the place it was before. waiting finally for him, until he appears again, until I can run to him, can hold him, can grab his hand and kiss his cheek and show him that despite the time and distance, that I’m his. and he’s mine. that from the other side it will still be I love you, te quiero.

 

Plane Tale from 2009.

9am wednesday. RIC airport. gate 9.
justin is a physical therapist in seattle. and i’ll never forget him.
you know, i don’t think he’ll forget me either. not anytime soon.

his kids are jake, and finley, 5 and 8. his girlfriend, maxi, is in germany. just before we parted ways i gave him a richmond postcard i’d been saving for just such an opportunity, in exchange for a promise to buy an international stamp and send it to her. they met when she tore her ACL. “she had her eye on me for a while… i had no idea.” part of me believed him. he was reading ‘Chicken Soup for the Lover’s Soul’. i was the only one who would verbally make fun of him that day. his simple justification: ‘well, i’m in love.’ they took the most beautiful photo at dawn on charles bridge in Prague. he said i looked czech with my high cheekbones and bright eyes.

it’s funny, now that i think of it. overhearing my response as to why i was going to colorado. ‘i have no idea,’ he laughed and forged a uniquely cliche introduction– ‘what’s your story?’

and here i am, writing his.

 

Plane Pretzels, 2016.

I challenged myself to eat the entire snack mix packette before he returned with my wine. I can do this, I thought, I can eat this entire fucking thing. come on, I encouraged myself as I uncomfortably stuffed dry pretzel rounds into my adult mouth. COME. ON. I demanded, my mouth dry, eyes panicky as i watched his slow and graceful return. NOOOOO. I fumbled with the remains of the snack packette. I tried to act cool with the thick pouches of wet pretzel tucked between my gums and my cheeks. Nooooo. I handed him my debit card. Defeated. He asked me if I wanted a receipt. Do I loom like I’m traveling for business? I’m so full of pretzel I can hardly enter my pin.  No, I smile. Your wine glass is just below your water cup. He smiled flawlessly. I shift my gaze toward the double stacked plastic vessels sitting deep and cozy against the shallow rim of the tray table indentation. Oh! I exclaim. Lovely, I tell him. And as he turns I empty the snack pack into my mouth victoriously. thinking of how much I don’t even want it. Just the sweet and salty victory. The dry mouth of a champion. “Victoryyyyyy” my crumb filled tight lipped solemn and pronounced war cry.

 

<3L.

This Is Week One.

in WORDS
A JOURNAL.
i have become my own experiment. here i chronicle the weeks and how i will navigate this new life, in the most honest way possible.

I read a quote recently that said “anywhere can be a prison if you make it one” and the honesty of those words pissed me off but also stuck with me. so often we create boundaries, walls, gates, limitations, in so many areas of our lives. we do this emotionally, professionally, creatively. we are capable of so somuch more than we allow ourselves to be. anytime I doubt that I watch this and feel alive and invigorated and deliberate and afraid of nothing.

last week I quit my job. I found myself on my first day of “freedom” feeling completely unhinged, trying not to panic. I tried to write but the words wouldn’t come. I tried to workoutbut it didn’t feel productive enough. I wrote a to-do list and accomplished nothing on it but “buy TP”. I found myself at the grocery store standing on the meat aisle, thinking that we need different meats. none of these felt right. there must be others? have we thought of others?? i just stood there, ironically paralyzed among the once living and now sterilely packaged products, not knowing what to do next.

the very freedom I’d been craving became debilitating, and I found myself somehow imprisoned again, by fear.
with all of the preachy “follow your dreams!” “live your best life!” posts that i shove down your throats, I have finally followed my own advice. I am now my own experiment. so stick with me and follow along, I guarantee this will get interesting.

Brooklyn, I’m trying
to break free of these walls
to live without fear
to be so much more.

week one
felt weak. My first day on my own I expected the energy I had and felt and embodied the days I’d lied about being sick, running around with a rambunctious fever, feeling and seeing and doing ferociously. instead i found myself in a rare hungover state, standing immobile on the meet aisle, wondering why we hadn’t come up with different meats by now. none of these met my expectations or could even meet me where I was, directionless and hungry.
I was unhinged.
I stopped making to-do lists that only made me feel incompetent and unnacomplished
I realized I was breaking habits and staryijng new ones.
I gave myself a break.
I slept more.
I prioritized meditation.
I made my space better and more inspiring but left when I found myself allowing organization to bleed into satisfaction.
I left the house.
I came back and cleaned the backyard.
I planted herbs.
I unpacked boxes.
I did my laundry, I spoke Spanish with everyone in the laundromat.
I threw myself into the family in the laundromat.
I came out displaced and rinsed clean.
I inhaled. I slowed down.
i went to the doctor’s office on my last day of insurance. under “occupation // employer” i started writing “digital strategist // justin alexander” but i’m not. i scratched through it and started to write “bartender…” but that is not me either. i drew a line through it and proudly wrote “writer // self-employed.” wiht a strong period at the end. i stared at it. that’s what i am, that’s why i’m here. i walked my papers up to the desk and sat back down, satisfied and swimming in the — that permission gives you when i was called back up. “ma’am, your position and employer don’t match what we have on file with your insurance.”
sonofabitch.
i was told i’m healthy and don’t look close to 30, which means that 30 is old.
i recognized that my time is my own, ever single minute.
i stopped working at the wine bar and was accepted beautifully and unexpectedly into a restaurant family that will become my own.
i accepted a tequila shot in celebration of my first shift.
i felt warm.
I’ve been drinking less because a day of incompetence is now unacceptable.
I’m deliberate.
I’m deliberate and afraid of nothing.
And this is week one.
<3L.

When We Outgrow Our Bones

in Uncategorized, WORDS

i’ve been doing these writing prompts, for the first time. i found them via the very talented jrrogue and kat savage, and here’s what i’ve learned. prompts this good are relentless and insufferable. you cannot read these topics as a writer or a dreamer and not be prompted by the necessity to write. they also make you realize common themes developing among the abstraction. i’ll put a few of my musings here to amuse you. give it a try and then share yours.

 

lonely layers of lace
intentionally beautiful and porous
let in, let out
I’m exhausted and beautiful. I hope.
dress me up, take me out.
I’m yours, you think, i am, I’m yours
so then what was this for
layers of lace and lonely
with you, and because of you.
so many open spaces.
for someone else to fill.
hope in a helium tank
I thought you’d be so much more
This perceived lightness I’m filled with will simply fade away
I think I was higher for a moment
I thought I was fuller for a moment
I thout you were everything for a moment
And I was ok and you were ok and we were ok, for a moment
and then so quickly it dissipated
And how quickly I welcomed it’s release
hope in a helium tank, I’m not interested, no thanks
I’ll settle into a heavy hopeless state
you know, you’re not such a noble gas.
swimming like a cinder block
I was half full of hope and sinking
dense with longing and a long way from shore.
this fortress I’ve built will become my watery grave
is it swimming or sinking then,
and how deep, how deep, how deep now is it.
how deep will it be, how far will I get
before I’m swimming not through water but through mud
murky and thickening
into dirt
my atmosphere finally sustaining me instead of submerging me
I’ll push through, I’ll float above,
surprisingly and intentionally and just as I suspected.
ashore, just.
swimming like a cinder block and sinking like a feather,
I know my way home.
detain me, voluntarily sweetie
I’ll pretend I don’t know the difference
between feathers or bars
I’ll stay all the same.
this delicate prison I walked in to
holding me within this desire for you
detain me, contain me
sustained here with nothing but false hope
feathered cage,
I see the way out every time I exhale
so I’ll hold my breath
and wait.
lipstick and illusions
is all we are and I fucking dare you to believe it.
this disillusionment is something I’ve granted you, sweetie
because you can’t handle all of me
nor will you have the privilege.
I know what will work for you sweetheart
a swipe of red amid the merlot
a hint of something more that you’ll ignore amid the air of good intentions. amid the simple atmosphere, the volatile indecision, the dim percussion, the noise.
so you’re welcome.
ill be just what you expected and requested and never yours.
lipstick and illusion,
exist there sweetheart
a swipe of red,
a desire, mislead
and as I leave you’ll realize
that with these girls
next time swipe left.

 

my red converse and you
are the things I like to slip into
on Saturdays
comfortable and numb, or feeling.
you’ll be my favorite thing.
I’ll wear you out, baby
ill tie you up.
I’ll press myself into you
I’ll tiptoe around.
you are my soul, baby
deep and gaining traction I think
just familiar enough and you still feel like
something, then.

why we travel… reason #8.

in TRAVEL
to seek, find, lose, and rediscover love. in all of its captivating complexity.
because stagnation is so definitively isolating, we move, we travel, we seek love- in a city or person that will deeply connect to our souls, immediately and relentlessly. and to find this is something unique and unshakable. you hold on to those moments where your heart is warmed, your soul is illuminated, so much so that you can only put your hand to your chest so it absorbs the energy and keeps it from nearly bursting. those moments, that inexorable magnetism of the soul, the insatiable curiosity of the mind, the often fleeting nature of the heart- that connect us deeply, if often momentarily, to a kindness in a person, the exactness of a place, a sight unseen that we will always crave again. it’s those moments that that move us so viscerally that we know our hearts and bodies will never leave.
but as explorers we are, travel on we must. and to leave, to experience this melancholy of departure is a pain that is all too familiar to lovers and travelers- sharing one last look, one last touch, a few final words that will inevitably seem to fall short. the beautiful tragedy of goodbye. be it to a person or a place, a moment or an opportunity. and the only tangible thing left in your hand and your heart is the inevitable uncertainty as to when you will feel that next- what road you will be on that it will hurt so badly again to have one last look, one last inhale, one last goodbye. and the hopeful certainty of returning is often the only thing often that keeps our feet moving forward.
and to finally return, to that city or those arms, after being apart for an indefinite amount of space and time. a boarding pass in your hand, a once-familiar destination in your heart, you’re filled with the desire to embrace the experience still containing that same wide-eyed curiosity, exploring every enticing curve and stubbly imperfection of a cobblestoned street or lovePhoto (1)r’s skin. and you can’t help but desire to relive the love you had- to walk down the same streets, hand in hand. to witness sunsets from such great heights, to taste food, to sip wine, to gaze endlessly at intangible vistas or into familiar eyes longing to dive in or to sit and absorb the view from afar, with your heart and your mind only slightly ajar. while retaining a deep, impenetrable connection that is transcendent, always, of a moment or a distance.
and even months later, to get a roll of film developed and realize that you know every angle that lies steps beyond the narrow view of what the shutter captured, or just how a pair of shoulders feel beneath a t-shirt now draped in black and white emulsion. and equally with a melancholic longing and a satisfying warmth in your heart, you know that no part of it will ever leave you.
and that, is why we travel. to seek, find, and rediscover love. to lose ourselves and find each other in the process, in the ebb and flow of insatiable exploration. to leave a part of our hearts in each place, knowing that it has also gained so much, that it can only move on stronger than before. and that finally our heartbeats will populate and empower so many city streets, so many strangers’ chests, so many nights and days and moments and lives that our own will exist to seek cadence beyond our humble chests.
for love. is why we travel.

passenger.

in WORDS

for your love, I was a passenger. I was invited in, full of uncertainty and excitement. I checked my bag, I chose the seat that seemed practical yet would offer the best views- chances to see my familiar world from above, quiet and whole and tangible. and breathtaking. I relinquished my sense of control to see how high you’d take me. I breathed deep through my nerves and trusted you as we took off, the feeling both familiar and new. and when we settled at a sensible altitude I relaxed, I melted into my seat, I forgot all my fears. I was no longer a passenger but a part of this journey. and there was turbulence, of course- rough patches that made me question why I came, that made me grip my seat and close my eyes tight and believe in my blind trust for you and try to remember the advice I’d received in the beginning- how to react if everything came crashing down. but then my relief would swoop in as we straightened out, with just a few residual bumps I could ignore, I could breathe through.

and with his comfort I was surprised with the announcement- that we had begun our initial descent.
I’m simply not ready to get off.