Every day she drinks a cup of coffee and takes a walk through the neighborhood.
Today there is the rare warmth of winter sun to illuminate her face and she recalls how, years ago, when she would not eat and was running on empty, one cup of coffee was so potent. The caffeine would split open her mind and the vast greatness of life and possibilities for love and adventure would nearly make her weep.
Now she is walking to take in the brisk air and feel the blood pump through her.
Her legs churn and breath clouds out around her. She strides through the neighborhood past the houses, the worn siding, yard corners torn up from dog paws, cigarette butts clogging the gutters, paint peeling off an old Chevy truck, and it’s stifling. The dirty children are screaming at each other as a dog is loping along the fence.
She is stuck in suburbia. This is the small sad life planned out for her.
She wants to fly away from these dirty streets, the too many kids and the cubicle job. Where is the adventure she has dreamed of? She doesn’t want paychecks, just for this idealized pipe dream to come true.
Every romantic scene of the cramped studio, writing short stories till dawn with a bottle of gin for a companion. Or cocaine some nights. Painting murals on the sidewalk. Sitting cross-legged, sore not from some sexual escapade but from long hikes in the snowy New England woods. Steaming mugs of tea and exotic dumplings and exotic men and long trips to Ecuador and southern France and Morocco. Learning Mandarin and the violin. The city, the country. Cozy alpaca sweaters knit by hand, friends rallying around the latest protest downtown. What happened to wandering New York City streets, to canning hand-picked blueberries, to sailing the Mediterranean Sea with a graying captain?
It’s not meant to exist, for she was born here. To and for these people.
We may alter our lives one degree at a time, but we cannot escape them.