On This

For some time now, I have been wading through slush piles and kicking gravel as I wait at street corners, listening to playlist after playlist, letting the music see me through the seasons. Every shoe I own has now walked this path with me--from work to the bar to the train to my apartment. To home, again.

For over six years now, I have lived in New York. First, the Bronx. Then Williamsburg, the Lower East Side. Now, the East Village. 

Each bedroom has been sparse, the walls barely held together. Stained with finger prints and punctured by broken hooks that fell, again and again, exhausted from scarves and coats.

Every apartment, every place, every roommate--each a memory. And they have mostly existed here, in New York City.

I think of how some relationships were contained to certain rooms. I think of the foreign beds I have slept in, the rooms I have laid in, awake and vulnerable. The places I stayed until the morning broke and I could walk out and grab a cab, breathless, my address spilling out of me.

Last summer, I walked down 2nd street with a new friend. We passed my old building and realized, immediately, we had both called it home, four years apart.

"Those halls...that doorman..."

We looked in, and there it was. The same doorman, same old lobby. Years and years and still there, for us to peer in and see.

Bloomberg has been mayor since I've lived here. But he has been the mayor for a long time and the city has changed, even as I believed myself to be ageless. 

In six years in NY, I have not changed my driver's license. I have held stubbornly onto my parents' address. 

That was home. And this, this was something else...

What is it called when you work at a good job but still need money for medical bills and a security deposit and sushi? When you claim to be independent but are really, and truly, not? What are these years, really?

But I have grown. Out of apartments. Out of this one, and its tiny box of a room. Four walls and a bed and me.

And now my license is expiring, concrete evidence of this stretch of time.

I need a certain amount of "points" to prove my identity. And so, I've collected mail. Last week, I cleaned behind my bed. I found two empty Gatorade bottles, candy wrappers, a wine cork, and my passport.

I have everything I need for a New York license. 

There is a place in my wallet for another wide picture of my face. A picture so hideously unattractive I'll wonder how I can keep it in my beautiful wallet. The DMV camera will stretch out my face, the lighting will enhance every flaw, every blemish. 

So, I think: maybe I should just renew the New Jersey one. That picture is better. I was tan, I had left the last bloated picture in a cheap wallet on a flight home from Miami, and had rushed to the DMV in the middle of summer to get a new one. And on the second try, we hit gold: that picture has it. That 21 year old glow. Bubbly and careless and broke as shit--

No, I think.

This is home now. I live in New York. 300+ days a year. Wide, skinny, happy, sad--

I live here now.


i am starting to believe that
the swell that overtook us
might have caused
the storm.
because the wind rushed in
and we flew sideways off the sidewalks,
pushed together
underneath awnings.
our hands cracked from cold
and the snow piled
before you left.
we saw carvings in ice and
a snowman,
made of days old
dust and rain.
we listened as he
looked up from his perch on a curb
and told us that
later, we would remember this.


I have always been one to dream of May in October. To wish for Christmas in July.
I hold on to the smells and sounds I have saved, the ones I know by heart. The crash of the ocean and the smell of a fisherman’s wellies, crunched with sand and sea.
I held on until I let go, until I did what I needed to do in order start my own life. To become myself, outside of my home.
But sometimes we have to swallow our pride. Ditch our half-hatched theories, release ourselves from what has held us back.
We can watch all that hurt swirl, form, and change. We can watch it and say goodbye.
Things may never change. There is a terrifying peace in knowing this.
But it's time. It's time to know this.
It is time for me to let myself go back home.



Last week, a coworker said to me: "Let's just erase 2010 off the books for you, Kelly." And there is a part of me that wants to agree, to say "2010 did me wrong" and forget it. But to delete a year's worth of memories is no easy feat, and my 24th year did not come and go without meaning.

I might, in a melancholy mood, try to count the days I spent lost in bed, my feet kicking through the sheets, my head spinning, my body an entire reaction to itself. But it's not my way to look at things in terms of years, or seasons, or segments of time. Because every minute I was sick, I was thinking about something else, and so the sickness wasn't the only thing. It was happening but I never thought about that until later, until the consequences had taken root in my life, changing things.

Some of these changes were for the better. I'll never forget living at Grandma's for 2 months, dancing to Sam Cooke in the kitchen, exploding wine bottles on the porch and reacquainting myself with the Dewey Decimal system at the OB Public LIbrary.

I spent a summer sick, surrounded by my cousins. I swam for three straight months. I danced at Moe's wedding. I took trips. I memorized faces. I taught Emma to say "Beer me!" I met people in unexpected ways, people who changed my life.

I ran when I needed it and slept when I had to.

I did what I wanted and I showed up, even if I wasn't always on time. I made a thousand mistakes and tweeted approximately 5x time that amount.

When I was 24, I was better and I was worse. 

And things are different now.

I had dinner with the family I used to nanny for in college last week. As I put on my boots and prepared to leave their apartment, Emily stopped me. "25!," she said. "Do you feel any different?"

I paused for a second. I thought of the changes I had made, the changes I was making and the path I am only beginning to carve for myself.

I smiled and looked up.

"Yes. I do."


the free pass

the free pass is my youth, slowly floating away.
i can cling to it. i can be drunk and foolish. 
i can tweet and blog about the dumb things i do,
the trips i take,
the people i let in for a second or two 
and then quickly discard.

i am young! 
i can feel things but face them later.
i can see it, drink, and forget.

or i can be present.
and feel those things now.
and not ignore it.
and do what i should.
face reality.

become a better version of myself.
the person i can be.
the person i always have been,
even as i've hid it, 
and drank it away,
and melted those feelings into one big lump.
the lump that's hard to swallow.

i can look in the mirror and see everything,
and deal.
i can do that.
i have.

i will.