aruan: (j'allais vous retourner)
Flipping through a back issue of The New York Times, I came across a story about - and this is why I love New York - the trend of Asian-fusion hangar-size nightclubs in the city, which frankly baffles my little mind that automatically envisions standing room-only pizza places and bodegas, not Publix, being the norm in Manhattan.

But here we are, and the inside photo was of the Buddha-Bar that opened in Manhattan recently – apparently the franchise's second incarnation there, and I could tell you immediately why it didn't succeed. It is unsexy and derivative, like a partner who learned his technique from porn.

Gone is the decadence that sets in immediately upon walking into the one in Paris, as the impeccably styled bellboy's sneer transforms into a smile when you say, "Oui, I do have a reservation." There's too much light and too little space - more like trying to vogue in an posh lobby than relax in an opium den. Just standing at the top of the wide entrance staircase in Paris is dizzying, and then the deep bass – not the jarring kind from cruising teenagers' cars on South Beach - begins to seduce your pulse and all but massages every stress from your shoulders. The dimly lit dining room is ringed with a catwalk nightclub of people with their hands in the air or lounging on artful chaises, the whole place hazy with smoke and Asian house music and opulence not for show, but genuine pleasure.

The thing that made my night at 8 Rue Boissy d'Anglais M. Concorde possibly the best of my life is that it put me in a wholly new headspace. I'm a chronic overthinker - as a smart introverted kid, I remember contemplating existence before I could even pronounce words like philosophy. In a (mostly) non-material way, I've always been about more and deeper and better and harder and what's next.

But on that night, somewhere between the second and third bottles of wine, maybe during the exquisite sashimi or one of the ridiculously rich desserts, after toasting Paris but before the embarrassingly earnest confessions of love, I discovered the happiness that comes from being free of want. The simple, thorough, utterly carefree space of love for the world just as it is that I've since doubted exists on a daily basis.

But I did have it, and I think the ultimate problem with New York's sister to this den of exquisite iniquity is that it's in perhaps the one place on Earth that truly doesn't believe in that mindset.

(Not that it does the place justice, but this photo provides an overview of the Paris Bar's dining room. )
aruan: (no Earth-bound misfit I)
I ran away from home last weekend.

Well, almost, and only sort of. I left my apartment Wednesday afternoon to have dinner at Panera, which involves a route that takes me by the freeway. And sitting at the red light before the overpass, I decided I wanted to drive and eat by the water. So it was onto I-4 and east through the breezy fading day to Orlando.

Which led to realizing the inherent futility of trying to derive enjoyment from a theme park by myself, of thinking that seeing SeaWorld's new baby killer whale could be something I'd be content to appreciate quietly or that eating really good German food at EPCOT would somehow make up for having to raise my beer with a tableful of strangers, and by the time I was done crossing off every prospect that had thrilled me so on the drive, it was all I could do not to feel sick to my stomach until I was well out of the city limits again.

At least half of my problem with adjusting to this new life in Lakeland is not adjusting to it. I haven't made a single attempt at meeting anyone outside of my work, and most of them have spouses and kids and do things so far outside my repertoire that we don't even bother with things beyond the usual platitudes. I harbor no particular interest in Copy Editor Brandon, the only other person even remotely my age there, I don't attend church, I don't go to school, and going to clubs was never really my thing even when I had people to go with. I live more than a little bit for Former Editor Mike's visits so my questions stop being de facto rhetorical and I don't have to eat alone.

None of which is fair to the new people I do have in my life, like Designer John, who makes for a limited but otherwise enthusiastic squee partner about all things sci-fi and leaves newspaper clippings about Dr. Who on my chair for me, Metro Editor Billy, who makes it a pleasure to come to work all night long and inspires me to try harder, and Desk Chief Andy, who tells me about air shows and strawberry festivals as suggestions to have family and friends visit and always asks after me in small ways. And I do still own a telephone and computer.

But it was all I could do not to lock myself in a bathroom stall and have a quiet little breakdown Sunday night. Andy talks about "next year this" and Brandon says things like "looking to buy a house here" and Copy Editor Ben visits his dad who lives in the house he was raised in about 20 miles away, and I look at them with horror in my gut, fending off increasingly beckoning memories of Paris and running away there with [livejournal.com profile] walkingshadow to give guided tours of the Louvre, learning to love the smell of carpeted public transit and slumming it in a ratty flat on the seventh floor in a building without elevators. We'd eat 2 Euro cheese-and-tomato baguettes from street vendors and walk the Seine at night and pop into London to see a play over the weekend and visit every museum in the city on their free nights, living poor and peerlessly happy.

Yet some of my co-workers have lived in Lakeland all their lives and want nothing more than to keep doing just as they are. When it comes to jobs, people have all kinds of motives - money, employee discounts, love of the game, something to do. I should've remembered before taking this gig that I would've waited tables in the dangerous parts of New York City for the chance to live there. But even if not an ocean away, I need out of this town by the time my lease is up at the end of the year.

SIDEBAR: Which means remembering that this is not a drill. )

The thinking that went into my taking the job as Metro Editor at the Alligator in December 2004 was how badly I wanted to contribute more to the paper, remembering how bitter I'd been about a very sub-par co-worker being made Freelance Editor the semester before and proving it should've been me, that I would be working most closely and directly with Justin, whom I'd admired since the first night I started working there. I knew this would be work that gave my university career meaning, that the doing of it would make me happy for the first time since writing papers for Ms. Igualada in high school.

I need that kamikaze commitment, and there is exactly nothing here that inspires that in me, hence the increasingly uncontrollable wanderlust for what else is out there. I realize that this is a necessarily cushioned, relatively safe and smart first step into the real world of journalism. But that doesn't make it feel any less pointless than going to class did while I was learning three times as much at the office every night. While hostel-hopping in Europe, I met several girls my age who came to a city, found a job of some ilk and made just enough to eat and sleep somewhere, then went someplace new when they got bored. What an extraordinary way to live. Not that there aren't admitted advantages to my non-minimum wage salary or the fantastic New York Times health coverage or you know, not waiting tables, but right now all I want again is for the world to stretch boundless with possibility before me again like it did when I walked on UF's campus and sat endlessly chainsmoking in the sidewalk cafe at Boulevard Arago.

And then I remember that I, too, want to do just one near-perfect thing, and I think working for the actual New York Times could be it, and that's maybe worth having less caffeine and French food and lazy afternoons until then. But maybe one of you should come down for a weekend so we can go to Disney and eat chocolate croissants in the shadow of EPCOT's faux Tour Eiffel nonetheless.

[P.S. I keyworded this icon a dream in my hands, because the idea that Rodney went all the way to the Pegasus Galaxy in a (small, subconscious) attempt to work his way back to Sam is an impossibly romantic one. And one that I can appreciate at this juncture.]

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