I am in the Virgin Islands with my parents, my brothers, my brothers’ girlfriends, and Bear. My parents won this trip, and we’re all in a state of wild gratitude, mostly.
(thanks Mom and Dad!)
There is ocean absolutely everywhere.
An awful thing happens when you stand for a while, looking out over the ocean.
You forget to care.
It is a scary, big feeling. The sense of being swallowed whole. The sense of disappearing.
Last night, I stood on the patio, and looked out over the world. And I suddenly understood better why people might stay in the city forever. Because it’s easier, in a way. Not having to think about anything beyond the walls. Focusing inward. It enables you to work and work and try so hard to get ahead. Ahead is a place that no one seems to actually know much about. It’s a little like heaven, I think. You hope it’s there, waiting for you. Because otherwise there might be nothing.
In the city, I am always trying to get ahead. Embarrassingly, I have dreams of grandeur.
I’m being unfair. That doesn’t mean that everyone in the city is like that.
But for me, looking up at a sky suddenly alive with stars, I am overwhelmed. For a frantic, fluttering moment, my brain flips through the work I should be doing, trying to motivate me. The big projects I keep putting off. The smaller pieces that might lead somewhere. Those essays sitting in a folder on my desktop. I should pitch. I should always pitch more. And the new melodies I should be learning already for the high holiday services I’ll perform in the fall.
I am just standing there, surrounded by history. I am up to my neck in history. Soon, I will disappear inside it. It’s strange how open, naked nature makes me think of history in a way that old buildings and streets don’t. Old buildings date back to a specific point in time, but the ocean has seen it all. From the very beginning. And the night sky, which feels insignificant at home, here feels extremely relevant. I am abruptly conscious of living on a planet, instead of living in an apartment, in a building, on a block, in a neighborhood. I am abruptly aware of the moon as a ball of rock illuminated by the brilliance of the unimaginably enormous sun, rather than the moon as the only important thing in the darkened sky.
Bear, on the patio with me, says, “Come sit with me.” But I can’t seem to stop moving. I am restless, instead of relaxed. I lift my arms up and then put them down again, awkward and self-conscious.
I want to talk about TV shows. I want to talk about something small. I want to watch youtube videos of hilarious kittens meowing loudly. I want to gossip.
Because if you don’t do all of those things, and you’re surrounded by the endlessness of the ocean and the sky, than what are you?
I had to go inside.
I am uneasy.
I am bad at being on vacation.
I wonder if maybe there is a way to be better at life, in general. Something to do with the sky.
My brother Gabe, on the other hand, has no such issues with the sky, lifted arms, or general existential uncertainty related to wide-open spaces and free time:
(his awesome girlfriend is there, too.)
And here’s Bear:
And here’s my brother Jake (with Gabe):
* * *
Are you good at being on vacation? Are you good at relaxing?
Unroast: Today I love the way I look with my whole back exposed. I’ve never really liked my back. Actually, I don’t know much about it, which makes me a little suspicious. But here, it is always out. And I like it more, for knowing it better.
Note: So I had this idea. I’m thinking that instead of just putting new cake pics at the bottom of posts, I’ll also do individual posts about cake pics. So if you want to send me a picture of yourself eating a delicious dessert, and also tell me a little bit about yourself, the story of the photo maybe, and anything else you might want to share about body image/life, I’ll make that into a featured post. Maybe I should ask each cake eater some basic questions (all optional). Where do you live? How old are you? What are you awesome at? What is your favorite kind of cake? What’s your unroast for today? People keep telling me these fantastic stories when they send pictures, and I want to share them! If you don’t want to tell me anything, but want to send a picture, don’t worry! I’ll keep posting the pictures without text under my regular posts.
In fact, here’s one now. Her expression cracks me up:
“here’s a photo of the top hat cake I made for my 21st birthday.
The icing went wrong in the middle but it tasted delicious”– Lizzy