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snow and a word.

i look around me and i see where friends have paired off. long relationships, some leading to marriage. children entering the fray. successes becoming more frequent, more exciting.

and i feel...less than.

so much less than.

i'm twenty-six trying to find an apartment to live alone in for the first time in my life. less than.

a set of keys. belonging to me. to use when walking through a door, into a space, that will be mine. for a time. no one's mess but my own, no one else's nutella on the shelf tempting me, a culture for living that i dictate. no shuffle-step around other people's values or wants and needs. no toilet seat left up. no wondering which of the many shampoo bottles is mine, or which head of lettuce is mine, or how the electric bill got so high. less unknown. more comfort.

but still. less than. 

no committed relationship. no dream job. still the nagging question of what-the-hell-am-i-doing-with-my-life. 

last night i snuck away from a table of my dearest friends to use the bathroom. and as i stood there, letting the water wash over my hands, taking long and deep breaths, there came a thought: it will come in an avalanche. it'll come with such force and ferocity that you best get your survival kit ready. 

sometimes life is like that. isn't it? even the success has the potential to knock your legs out from under you and send you tumbling down the mountain.



i can't imagine it getting better. i can't imagine feeling a love returned. or working and making money at the very things i've wanted all my life to do. i can't imagine a family in front of me. or an apartment i'll share with people i'd trek to the ends of the earth for. i suppose as you get older life gives you evidence that these things happen and that patience and small, slow steps do pay off. but in the blindness of youth i am thrashing.

i'm still just trying to find my word.

remember that great passage in eat, pray, love?

"Every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there. If you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever the majority thought might be--that is the word of the city. And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there."

i had to go back to the book to look up what new york's word was. i knew it began with the letter a, but i kept coming back to greed. so avarice, then? it's actually achievement. which i think i can get behind. but in the heart of the city i think that achievement is laced on every level with a hefty dose of avarice, and that stops me short in my tracks.

there is a moment when you realize everything you ever wanted is nothing you want now. less than.

which is not entirely true, of course, you want much of the same things, but holy hell if it hasn't shifted and changed and totally turned on its head.

i don't like manhattan. i really don't. i don't like that the amount of advertisements i see in any given day is more than some people see in their life. i don't like the hustle and bustle and fast-paced rushing to some place else. always some place else. i don't like the only way to get to the A train from where i now live is to walk past a corner of men who make me feel small by the way their eyes follow and peel. and so okay, it's cultural, maybe. but why does their culture get to supersede mine? and why is new york small enough that you always run into people you don't want to see, but big enough that even when you walk several blocks out of your way you never see the people you most want to.

there are parts of this city that i adore. the west village, bits of the lower east side, tribeca right up against the water there--but these are the parts are less densely populated. where life moves with more ease. they are the corners and cracks where achievement is laced with something altogether else: peace, family, and a thing i've yet to name--something centered and whole. these, of course, are the parts of the city that i can't afford. and so the achievement i need now is laced with the need for money.

money. less than. 

it'll come in an avalanche. 

it just feels so darn far away. and my faith in that future, in that hefty proclamation wanes.

i want to be more than. or just enough. i want to make those i love proud, i want to live in a place where the word is my own. balance. i'm pretty sure my word is balance. ironic, since i'm a libra.

time to make it snow.


sharlyn emily said...

it'll come, lady. holy mother, will it ever come.

Mary said...

You are already enough. You just can't see the future. Faith and imagination, yes. Also a continued focus on everything you already have - health, friends, family... The future will come on its own.

I think back to when I was 25-26, and I am sure I felt the same way - I was single, and all my friends were settling down and moving forward. I picked up and moved to a new city, got my first place of my own. A year later I started dating my now-husband. Now I'm 38... I'm 10 years into marriage, have 2 beautiful boys, a cute little house...

An avalanche for sure.

Alex said...

Less than. I cannot tell you how often I feel that way these days. And, as usual, you articulated it perfectly. Dream job...hell no. Success...hardly. Relationship...yes...BUT complicated. Any idea of what I'm doing with my life...absolutely not. Having hope that it WILL get better and things WILL happen for me is hard. But I'm going borrow from you and have faith that it will come in that avalanche. So here's hoping! :)

Kerri J. said...

These are constant thoughts in my mind, too. Less Than. Not Enough. All I really want is ... everything. It's so hard to wait. Scary to wait. I can also only hope that the avalanche will come. You're definitely not alone in this! (I've lived in Manhattan for 17 of my 23 years -- the rest in one or another borough -- so I hope that you can find your place here. Once you make it home, it won't be hard to see it's beauty even at the worst of times.) Thanks as always for your beautiful words.

MissKate said...

Your writing is so beautiful. In most blogs, I scan across the screen, picking out bits and pieces that intrigue me. In your blog, I suck up every word, allowing it to linger slowly in my head before I move on to the next.



Taylor Yves said...

this reminds me a lot of your old writing :) you captured the feeling of a city well, you always do. but just wait and see how "more than" you feel when you have your own space, you will fill a whole apartment and make it a home and welcome people into it just as you welcome them into your time and your heart. you have so much to offer.

Ashley and Patrick said...

I think people feel like this regardless of their situation. It's not just you. Everyone has something that they wish they were "more" of. Life comes in bits and pieces. Taken advantage where you can, and wait patiently for the rest.

And I love that passage from eat, pray, love. It perfectly sums up why I don't belong in my new city. le sigh.

San Diego. Play. That was my city. But this new one? Not so much.

Alivia said...

I felt Less Than this week. And last week, too, but the slighted feeling grew stronger as time went on.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing this, brave soul. You lift me up and inspire me during the day when I need it most. I know it's going to start snowing for you soon.

jaderox213 said...

oh wow. i feel like you just wrote every word that's been trapped in me for the past few years. all the ones i've been hiding underneath the smiles and "of course i know what i'm doing" answers to family and friends. i know exactly how you feel, except maybe not exactly exactly, since i don't live in nyc (i'm a san antonian who just recently moved back to texas and don't really feel like i belong here, even though it's home...if that makes sense).

i really love your writing, meg! i check your blog everyday for inspiration and just to read your beautiful posts. thanks for sharing!

Brittan said...

oh meg, believe me, IT WILL COME IN AN AVALANCHE. you are so right about that. i got pregnant in high school and made a decision that set my life on the most unusual, difficult course for the next ten years. i always felt different than my friends, less than - yes. i was ashamed and felt alienated but you just keep going and you believe, totally blindly, that things will start happening for you and rolling in your favor. and they do. somehow, god, SOMEHOW my relationship worked out, i'm getting married. check. then, almost immediately after that worked itself out, a painfully long streak of unemployment ended and i can pay bills - barely, but i can pay them. one day i will begin to pay off my student loans and be able to afford new clothes. it will happen. the point is, things are moving now after being stagnant for so long. just trust that this will happen for you. i know it will.

Lottie said...

It will come when you least expect it all at once and it will be amazing.

Lately I have been wondering and worrying whether we had made right the right decision--but they yeaterday from nowwhere there was snow,we had and we knew it.

Heather said...

Though hard, it's nice to know that others go through this exact same feeling, but as others have said, it will come in time, swiftly and when you are not looking.

I have had the same feelings as of late, and hopefully with some changes and new directions, we all can find what we are seeking.
for now, the present, cherish it more than the future, that comes in time..

Amanda said...

When it rains, it sure does pour! I feel like that in all aspects of life, not just in the difficult momements, but also in the wonderful ones as well.

We all crave balance and I feel are always working toward it, no matter if we have kids, are married or have the so called "perfect life." I just had a baby and feel like I have no balance even though I am really happy. Maybe I never will....

Life is hard, and beautiful, and complicated, and amazing all the the same time. I think we all need to appreciate the present and soak in these moments for they are fleeting.

xo, Amanda


Shawnee said...

seriously, you are a beautiful writer. i look up to you, a stranger, as i smoothly read your words down the page, from one post to the next.
i feel this.. even though i don't really have the same experience or thing going on right now.

ps i LOVE eat, pray, love.
great quote.

Claire Kiefer said...

Goodness, Meg, I'm always so impressed with how passionately you write each blog post. And OH how I understand just what you're going through. I'd like to say I've come out of it, now that I'm 30, but that wouldn't be true. It's still here. I will say that some of it settled--I used to live in an apartment with a bunch of roommates in San Francisco in my early 20's, and that was a very specific kind of life I'm just not up for anymore. And now I live with my boyfriend and our roommate in a place that feels like my own in Oakland, I've lived alone twice, and I've had a job that I'm terribly passionate about for 6 years. But, there are always things that haunt. For instance, everyone I know is pregnant. And while I'm not ready for a baby just yet, I know I want one. But my boyfriend has 2 kids, a vasectomy, and doesn't want anymore. And so here we are, figuring it out.

The good news is that I believe pretty much anything can happen with persistence. You're ahead of the game in so many ways. xo.

CityGirl said...

I really like your blog, I've been reading it for a few weeks now.
I wish they had blogging when I was 26--my thoughts about life so mirrored your own. I thought my life would never 'happen'. Know that through quiet examination, dedication, and writing, writing, writing, it does...it all unfolds.
So..I enjoy the blog. One day, I'm fairly certain, I'm going to enjoy your book. Soon.

Nicole said...

I feel similar. I'd say the same but no one person really ever feels the same do they.

I'm praying fo an avalanche. For you, and for me too.

A hell of an avalanche.

Leah said...

Loved this passage

Days Careen said...

'In the past I would live chaotically in the future because I refused to live in the here and now...Sometimes I had the certain if rather undefined feeling that I would 'make it' one day, that I had the capacity to do something extraordinary, and at other times the wild fear that I would go to the dogs afterall...I refused to climb into the future one step at a time.
And now, now that every minute is so full, so chock full of life and experience and struggles and victory and defeat and more struggles and sometimes peace. Now I no longer think of the future, that is, I no longer care if I 'make it' because I now have inner certainty that everything will be taken care of.
Before I lived in anticipation, I had the feeling that nothing I did was the real thing, that it was all preparation for something greater, more genuine...

But that feeling has dropped away from me completely. I live here and now, this minute, this day to the full and life is worth living. And we know life don't we? We have experienced everything if only in the mind and there's no need any longer to hang on for dear life'

Long quote I know but thought was very relevant to your post. Etty Hillesum wrote it, at the time she knew she was going to end up in a concentration camp in WW2. I guess, any of us can only truly appreciate the present to the full when our future becomes limited. Her beautiful writing very much reminds me of yours.

perfectionisboring said...

This. Was lovely.

Juliette said...

This summer i'm moving to London.
Going to discover if my personal word does match the word of the city and if i do belong there.

That will the 4th city i try to live in.
I want to be more too. And i will never stop trying.

Your post did bring me to tears.

Juliette said...

You probably have already read this, but that something i like to keep in mind :


Francesca Forzoni said...

beautiful x

Natalie said...

Just want to tell you how much I love reading your insightful, sensitive, and honest writing. I suppose it's time for me to start commenting regularly.
Do you think you will stick it out in NYC or start finding your "word" elsewehre?

Belinda said...

i love this, meg.

may our futures be filled with avalanches.

xx bel.

Kerstin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerstin said...

Wow. Your writing is beautiful!
This entry has left me absolutely speechless and overwhelmed. Thank you!

Julia said...

go out and get that damn avalanche. don't wait for it to come to you. after a long time day dreaming about how great life would be if this or that. this came to me, if you cant be happy in your own back yard you cant be happy anywhere. own your life for all it is and isn't, love it. so that when you see that avalanche coming you will recognize it and appreciate it for all it is, or isn't. xo

Lizzy said...

I feel like everything you have written here you stole out of my head. New York is a tricky place to grow in. I am in such a similar situation that it gives me hope to know I am not alone. Thank you for your beautiful wording to the chaos in my head.

Courtney Hope said...


I just laughed to myself reading the end of this. Usually, when I read what you write, I recognize something there that very much reminds me of myself. I relate to the melancholy and nervous days, the affection/admiration you have for lattes, the way life seems so beautiful and big and...dare I say, so damn daunting. For me, some days, courage looks like just getting out of bed. And then I read that you're a libra, and I said "of course!" That tricky zodiac, putting a name and reason to the ways that I feel most days (I too, am a libra). And so, I say, I'm thrilled for you that you are searching out a place of your own. I live alone (plus a dog) and it is my saving grace often. But, it take bravery, courage. MORE THAN what so many others may have. You are not "less than". Instead, you are courageous- to not settle for anything less than what you know makes your heart unreasonably happy. We libras are not just equalizers. We're brave, too. And sometimes the scariest thing is waking up in the morning on your way to a life that you haven't yet dreamed up. In a house/apartment alone (plus a dog:)).

p.s. drinking a latte. it's perfect.

IrishRedRose said...

About living alone...I agree with Courtney Hope. It's not less than, it's more than. More independent, more self-sufficient, more courageous, more fully realized and flourishing as a person. It's like you take a seedling all squished into a "training pot" with a bunch of others, and give it its own pot--suddenly the roots spread out and dig in and the plant itself rushes up to meet the sun. Give yourself time.

But you know what else? I think you really need a road trip. Travel now, while you are young and not overly burdened with adult responsibilities. Before your roots have gone too deep, even if the local soil isn't the best for your varietal. ;-) Seek out the place where you feel you will grow the most richly, fully, happily; and when you find it, don't hesitate to transplant yourself.

Operation Metaphor seems to have worked! LOL! love your blog!

Sara said...

I just moved away from New York City a few months ago. I've been reading you're blog since the day I arrived there some 3? 4? years ago. This post resonates with me firmly. New York's word was not mine anymore,if it ever were. The speed, and bustle, and hustle, and the feeling that I always needed to have more, be more, was only leaving room for unhappiness to grow.

While LA may not be enough for most New Yorkers, and I have no idea what it's word is, being able to drive to Griffith and hike alone under the big blue sky has filled me with so much joy. Being able to afford my own little bungalow, hideaway, for the same that I paid for roommates in New York, and working to live, and not just living to work is enough for me.

I'm cheering for you Meg. I'm also cheering for me.

Anonymous said...

meg, remember when i wrote to you about the love letters to your future husband a few weeks ago? i was 26 years old and ready for life to begin...when i met him and everything fell into place. five years later, two beautiful kids, the house, the minivan, etc. life will happen exactly when you are least expecting it, but it will be YOUR life and the things you love that will get you there. enjoy being 26...i miss those days!

amandamwatkins said...

Like always, you stole the words right out of my mouth. I too am 26 and I don't know what's going on. I thought by now, I would be in a different place. I graduated with a degree that is really hard to use and in a job that is less than what I anticipated. I live alone and while I do enjoy it I often wonder... is this it? Is this going to be the rest of my life? Destined to live alone and never marry. Work in this job that just pays my bills?? Surely, this can't be all there is? I try to look at it as a "growing period". That seems to help. :) We will get there someday!!

Gisela said...

I used to live in a tiny little apartment in Munich. The windows didn't close right. And the whole building was just so dirty and disgusting. Sometimes I felt I couldn't breathe in there anymore. So this last winter it got really really cold and even when I put on my heater I had to wear four layers of sweaters in my bed to get warm. And it was in February this year that I decided that this would be my last winter in this horrible appartment. I just made the decision and took it for granted. In March 2012 I moved. In a cheap but very chic appartment in a very fancy district in Munich. It is like a miracle!! It just flew to me because I was convinced that I deserve it. And you deserve it too!!! You deserve it that all your dreams may come true...and they will, you know?!!

Lots of love

the soft soled said...

This post was my weekend. Dinner with old friends when I realized I was the only one at the table not working in a field I loved or in a serious long term relationship. At that point all I could do was sit there and think, man I cannot WAIT for that avalanche.  Thanks for the lovely words!

The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

Yep. It will come in an avalanche. True story. Mine came when I was looking for anything BUT a man... a husband... a yearn for children... financial freedom. It swept us up quickly... it will come quickly and carry you... with or without your consent. You can't fight it when it hits. It consumes you. In a beautiful way. :-)

V. said...

27 living in la. working at a magaine as a sales assistant while all my friends who i started here with are all making 3X more than me, traveling, not just paying the bills with their checks, boyfriends filled, successful...and i don't have any of that. I am not saying oh worries me but when i think of how our lives diverged over the years bc we all started the same it keeps me up at night bc i question where i went wrong? Also, since we don't have all these ties to where we live/do/see we can do whatever we want. i plan on moving to sydney by summers end. it's time for a change and i feel lucky that i can do this at 27 and they can't/won't. we have the rest of our lives to have that perhaps that just for us in our 30's but right now acknowledge that our future is unwritten and how exciting that is. for all of us wondering who are we? we just need to go with the flow and find daily adventures. xoxo http://myseafoamdreams.blogspot.com/

elizabeth shay said...

thank you for this beyond perfect description-i hope you dont mind if i re-blog it (giving you credit of course)-
if only we were more patient :)

Kelly Brooke said...

i don't think i can put into words how much i love reading your thoughts here on this little blog. thank you!