Never Enough [ 2004-08-05, 9:59 a.m. ]

There is a reason I have banned myself from the Barneys Warehouse Sale and stopped looking at real estate porn (I mean, websites) and no longer buy Vogue and InStyle. Itís why I throw away the Hold Everything catalog without even flipping through it, and why I donít allow myself to go near Me&Ro on Elizabeth Street. Itís the reason I canít let myself spend too long on eBay looking for Eames plywood side chairs, or thinking about baby names or vacation spots or redecorating our apartment.

I am a Wanter. Itís my own personal disease. Itís a chronic and itís contagious. I caught it from ALL THE PEOPLE IN NEW YORK WHO HAVE SO MUCH NICE SHIT, and this particular little monkey on my back demands constant attention.

Itís a heart-racing, shortness-of-breath kind of problem. Itís anxiety and stress and dissatisfaction, and worst of all, it is constant, exhausting over-analysis of me, my life, and my home. I can confidently say that I find nothing so harmful to mental health than an inability to stop obsessing about oneself. The weight or pants size of oneself, the premature gray hairs on oneís head, the extensive handbag collection of which one dreams, the perfect body on many, many women who are not oneself, the amount of money needed to acquire that which one thinks will make oneís life complete, the lack of career and the state of oneís relationship, to name but a few of my current worries.

Itís kind of a big ďWell, no DUHĒ to say that modern life (pop culture, the media, Madison Avenue, MTV, whatever you want to call it) puts pressures on us to have more, buy more, own more, be more. Ditto to say that self-acceptance is key to finding happiness, or at least, contentment. And I have no solutions, clearly. If I knew how to make the switch from wanting, wanting, wanting to living and loving, Iíd have written a book long ago and would currently be on a beach in Bora Bora, sipping something with a teeny umbrella in it.

So I have no new insights, no solutions, no grand ideas and no narrative. Good readiní, eh?

I guess I feel like I am my own worst enemy, and I would love to wake one day, suddenly able to relax and enjoy. A few weeks ago I got my haircut, and the afternoon spiraled downward from that point until I was pouting my way through Central Park, certain that my day was ruined and my life was worthless. The journey from point A to point TAKEMHOMERIGHTNOW is boring Ė basically, I had my hairdresser dry my hair curly. Instead of drying is straight and thus proving me lovely, my life meaningful, the world right and good. But I walked out of there with curly hair. I hate having curly hair, and I Ė big surprise - hated it curly. I met my husband at the Met with the plan of going to the museum, shopping on Madison, and then hitting the Cooper-Hewitt. But because I hated my hair, I slipped down that slippery slope and ended up sitting on the steps of the museum feeling uglier and uglier because my shoes were wrong and my pants were wrong and my hair was wrong, wrong, wrong. I wanted to be in one of the townhouses in the east 80s, with money and a beach house and a personal trainer and multiple bedrooms and multiple bathrooms and a car and reservations for dinner at someplace fabulous. I wanted to have long, straight blond hair that I maintained with highlights every two weeks. I wanted anything and everything that wasnít me. And the feeling was an actual physical sensation, hovering right between my chest and my throat. I scapegoated my city, but Iím certain that the problem is mine, not New Yorkís. New Yorkís appeal and its downfall are not so far apart Ė everyone is here, every type of person, within a few square miles, blocks, feet of one another. The rush you get from seeing a celebrity buying pillows is just a heartbeat away from the sinking feeling that comes from watching yet another jaw-dropping-ly beautiful girl wriggle past you as she heads towards the Manolos on the 4th floor of Barneys. And itís right there with the guilt and pain you feel when the blind man playing the accordion on the R train asks you for money. Everyone is here. And sometimes it is too much for one heart to take.

I am such an impressionable person; as soon as one person mentions planning a vacation or buying an apartment or changing jobs or having a baby, I am on board, big time. And once my wheels are spinning, they donít stop. They may change gears (weddingís done, now obsess over job. Quit job, now must find perfect sandals. Done, now find new apartment. And so on and so on.), but they donít stop. Itís exhausting, and I think itís hurting me. I want to be able to enjoy my time here, but so often I lose perspective and freak out because I donít look like the other girls at the bar, or donít have the glam career I think I should.

I just had three days off in a row Ė which NEVER happens Ė and Kent and I were all set to have a lovely Summer of Fun weekend. But it was hot and I was cranky and the idea of facing Uptown with a film of grease and grime on my skin (which is inevitable in August) weighed me down to the point where I could barely leave the apartment. We went to the beach one day, happily a non-Hamptons beach, and had a great time. Our friend Jay came to visit. I went to Beckís apartment for dinner and drinks with my girlfriends. But still that feeling Ė I WANT MORE, BETTER, DIFFERENT, MORE Ė nagged at me.

Is this what being 29 is about? Will it go away when I turn 30, suddenly full of grace and contentment? Am I being unfair in blaming my city, with all its excess Ė excess money, beauty, energy, people, stuff? Would I feel the same if I lived in Portland or Phoenix or St. Louis? I came here young, and itís hard for me to know who I would be had I taken another path. I like this path and this person, but lately, I am exhausted.

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