As a born and raised New Yorker, I assumed that after a six-year hiatus in Los Angeles, I’d just slip back into my old life, like riding a bike. As it turns out, I need training wheels.
Many of my New York friends are recently married, have serious boyfriends or are having babies, and the most common time slot I get is 4 p.m.
One recent afternoon, I visit my dear childhood friend, Penelope, at the very adult West Village apartment she shares with her husband. She serves papaya and sliced apples.
“How do you feel about having a baby?” I ask her.
“It just feels right.” She calmly pats her belly. “I always wanted to have one around 30.”
I remember the summer she got her learner’s permit and we drove to Bridgehampton’s Golden Pear in her vintage Volkswagen. We spoke about how we’d be going to college in two years and how weird it all was, the changes ahead.
Penelope catches me up on peripheral friends I haven’t heard about in years. It’s like they’re all contracting the bubonic baby plague and dying off into sophisticated adult lives. It was not like this in Los Angeles, but then again, the entertainment industry has a way of keeping people in a perpetual state of adolescence.
“Wow, I say. I guess I should really get on the bandwagon,” I half-joke.
“I think about you and my single friends. I’m sure when you meet guys now there’s an added pressure, since I assume you want to have kids in the next few years?”
“Yeah, well I should probably get my own apartment first,” I laugh it off. “But if you know anyone, keep me in mind.”
It’s nearly 7 o’clock, and I’ve exhausted my welcome. Her husband has been politely watching TV in their bedroom so she and I can catch up.
“We have to do this more often,” I say. “Even just for a movie. I can come over and chill anytime.”
“That’s about all I’m up for these days, anyways.”
Penelope and I are worlds away from our Bungalow 8 days of our early twenties, when we would compare who hooked up with more guys in 24 hours.
Transitions have never been easy for me. And it’s outright depressing to find myself in my childhood bedroom with my old Barbies feet away in a floral hatbox.
It’s even hard to masturbate properly, because my bedroom door’s lock is broken. I’m too embarrassed to ask my father to fix it, since why else would I need a lock?
When I masturbate, I keep my phone in my left hand and a book on top of the covers, so if one of my parents barges into my room, I’m fully prepared. I just happen to be reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now upside down while simultaneously scrolling through Instagram. And yes, my right hand is under the blanket, because I’m cold and have poor circulation. I am definitely not imagining that I’m a whore and a sex slave to my emotionally unavailable ex. I am not thinking about him pushing my face into the pillow and telling me to take it in the ass.
Yes, Mom, you can totally borrow my brown dress for that gallery opening in Chelsea. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m watching a Hope for Paws puppy-rescue video.
I am absolutely not thinking about the Israeli I briefly dated, who shoved cocaine in my mouth with his thick index finger after I told him I didn’t want it. I am certainly not thinking about how I ended up in his Jacuzzi drunk, smoking half-wet cigarettes and ready for some fucked up shit because I was sick of being good. Submerging myself under the gray, soapy water, I wondered what it would be like to drown. It seemed rather curious. Coming up for air, I was greeted by my caveman’s erect cock. With his rumbling accent, he commanded me, “Do what you do best.”
My bedroom door swings open after a half-assed knock, and it’s my father, “Salmon’s ready in five.”
One afternoon, I escape to McNally’s bookstore, where I browse through Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
A tall, beautiful woman walks in. Her long, brown hair is gathered in a careless bun, and she’s wearing faded leopard-print pants that are slightly loose but not baggy. Her Barbour jacket is undone, and a cream-colored, silk scarf casually hangs around her neck. She just happens to run into her friend, a hot JFK Jr. look-alike sitting two tables over from me. They catch up briefly until her other friend arrives.
I pick up fragments of their conversation. She converses about meditation, her newly launched clothing line and how it’s important for women to nurture their “sacred space.” I’m in.
At the end of her meeting, our eyes lock, and we steal smiles. I try to build up the courage to introduce myself but chicken out. After she’s gone, I get an absurd idea. Throwing on my jacket to prepare for a quick getaway, I approach her ridiculously handsome friend.
“Excuse me,” I say.
He looks up with kind eyes.
“I know this is really weird and it’s totally cool if she says ‘no,’ but if I gave you my email address, do you think you could pass on my information to the girl you were just talking to?”
“Yeah,” he laughs and hands me his phone. “You want to type it in, and I’ll connect you?”
“I’m not like a lesbian or anything. I mean, I love lesbians, they’re great, but I’m just not one.” I continue my verbal diarrhea. “I normally don’t accost people at bookstores either, but I just moved back from L.A., and I’m already out of my comfort zone, so I thought, what the heck!”
“Welcome back. I’ll hook you guys up, and don’t forget about me if you girls get into trouble.”
As I fly out of the bookstore, I can’t help but think I may have just killed two birds with one stone. Wouldn’t the universe be kind if I had found myself a boyfriend and a new friend all in one strike?
My phone buzzes. It’s a text from him. “Great meeting you at McNally’s. I just passed your info on to Christine. Btw, my gf is from LA and I’ve spent time there too, so I’m familiar with the traumas (ahem) challenges of coming back. Let me know if you are ever looking to hang out. We are nice. J”
“Thanks! I’d love to hang out with you and your girlfriend!”
O.K., so no boyfriend. But I’m very optimistic about Christine.