french air

“Send me more cottages that are for sale.”

“I’m looking in France right now for picturesque châteaux and will have them ready for you in a moment. Do you want northern or southern France?”

“Wherever is fine.”

“…Even though the Italian ones are better so far. But how about this one? I hate the kitchen.”

“I kind of like it.”

“It takes a person out of the rustic beauty of the French countryside. It is way too modern.”

“Fair.”

“It’s a punch in the face, that kitchen. I want a house like the one in A Good Year.”

“Yes. Agreed.”

“What about this one? THAT is how you do modern. A tub in the middle of a room?! What luxury!”

“Oh my god, the tub! How fucking elegant.”

“Such a dreamy thing.”

“I want to bathe in a nonsensical tub positioned in the middle of a room.”

“Same here, dude. The definition of a bath room.”

“The pink radiator and fainting couch with fleur de lis is so extra it’s necessary.”

“That would have to be a condition upon purchase of the home.”

“Leave it.”

“Non negotiable. Period.”

“I would like to sit on the couch while I was naked and still wet from my bath.”

“Right next to the open window and fucking air dry on a fainting couch with French air. I get it.”

“It’s a dry climate, Provence.”

“I had the urge to dress in a silk robe when I first saw it.”

“Yes! And maybe bathe with it on, like Marie Antoinette—in the Sofia Coppola version. How fucking luxurious!”

“I would like to have a small cake table next to the tub so I could bathe in silk and eat petit fours, while listening to beautifully sunny instrumental music.”

“Vivaldi. You’re basically in Italy at that point.”

“A perfect choice.”

 

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bubble, ny #16

Friday, June 22, 2018
Midtown East

“People eat like pigs here,” she said as she looked into my eyes and then down to my stomach. I thought this odd and amusing, as I had been especially restrained on this visit to the Indian buffet. Polite even, because they had seated this woman of indeterminate age directly next to me at the bar.  

The whole exchange was my fault, really, because I had smiled at her earlier.

I smiled because I felt guilty.

And I felt guilty because she was in my bubble, and that irritated me — the bubble being this weird personal space thing that New Yorkers have, and that I myself have despite my aversion to it. 

So that’s why I smiled. Because in my head, 30 seconds earlier, I had thought, “What the fuck is this?” as I saw her saddle up to the chair next to mine. And I miss my Midwestern self who liked chatting with strangers, or at the very least acknowledged someone sitting mere inches away.

And so she took my smile as an invitation to perform her one-woman show.

“You eat too much and your stomach expands,” she continued. “Then all you’re good for is the remote control. That’s all I did yesterday, was watch Croatia come down on Argentina, three to zero.” She said this while simultaneously stuffing individual triangles of naan into her purse. She had asked for them without butter, presumably for this reason. 

“What are they going to do, arrest me?” she asked, pausing to put her hands out in front of her. “Cuff me, then. People are too clean anyway. People need a criminal streak. I’ll be the first in my family to be arrested. Can you believe that? 

“You know, the naan bread at this place is really good if you have it with some brie. Just slide it on. It’s so simple and delicious.”

somewhere around west 4th – ny #15

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Manhattan

“Concrete bunghole where dreams are made up. There’s nothing you can do,” I sing to myself as I walk to the F train through the corridor under Bryant Park. It’s already a sultry New York summer and it stinks, but it’s not overwhelming.

(Yet.)

And what is that brown substance? It’s glowing, kind of.
Muddy water, I hope. Rust tinted. That seems optimistic.

I lean into the corner of the last subway car—one of the new ones with no seats on the ends. I fish my book out of my bag: Exit West. I’m almost finished with it. A birthday gift from one of my favorite friends I made shortly after moving to New York. It’s told from the perspective of two refugees and is about escape and transience and home.

After ten minutes or so of being lost in my book—probably somewhere around the West 4th Street stop—someone gets on and starts playing music. My brain initially wretches with its mariachi band and garbage pail scars, but that’s not what this is. It’s a saxophone being played so delicately and so beautifully that I stop reading my book and just listen. And so does everybody else. The subway car is quiet and still. No one moving or speaking as the train rattles underground from Broadway-Lafayette to Delancey Street. A span of time that is probably only two or three minutes but feels much longer, much richer. 🎶

tiny empire, tc #10

Friday, June 16, 2017
Empire, Michigan

I slammed on my brakes just before the second bend in M22, south of Empire, startling my fiance. But his eyes were lit up.

“Did you see?!” he asked.

I drew a really dramatic breath and nodded. I pulled a u-turn—dangerous, probably, but worth the risk.

We backtracked and pulled into the neighborhood along Erie Street — a collection of funky, tiny houses cutely arranged around a village green. This is what excites us.

We’re both 32 years old.

The first tiny house was sort of cabin-esque. Situated a little further off the road and behind a modest podium of shrubbery. He’s a little shy. And definitely a he. Dark, but bright-eyed and welcoming.

And then the blue one — a little reminiscent of the A-frame wanna-be where I grew up, over on Long Lake (the one downstate, in Kalamazoo, not the one up here). It’s a bit of a stretch but I’m an inconvenient combination of nostalgic, romantic, and unapologetic.
All the Icks.

It’s sort of tropical, the blue house. But that’s the trick of Northern Michigan, isn’t it? One year we stayed on Old Mission Peninsula shortly after spending some time in Ibiza and swam out to the raft at Haserot Beach. We laid on our bellies, backs to the sun, and watched the fish swim in the clear blue water below.

“Kind of like the Mediterranean,” I said.
“My love,” J snapped, tutting at me with disgust. “Much colder.”
Again, a stretch.
What can I say?
Ick.

A diminutive red Victorian. Elegant and established. Regal. Monarchical. This one. This could be a place to display our tchotchkes in heavy mahogany cabinets and re-watch episodes of the Great British Bake Off into the wee hours of the night.
But is that us, really?

One of us, maybe.

The best for last, of course. My favorite — the white one. It’s the first one you see if you enter from M22 on Ontario Street. Simple. Symmetrical. Minimal. Modern and traditional at the same time.  A fusion of our two opposing styles. It seems like it’d be light and airy inside. Perhaps with wide-planked wooden flooring. A neatly designed kitchen that spilled into the living area. Plenty of comfortable seating for friends to kick up their feet after hiking the dunes.

It wouldn’t be  suitable for our tchotchkes—all the little knick knacks we’ve collected throughout the years. I’d have to throw them out.

Or tuck them in a box in the attic because I’m sentimental

(Ick.)

And maybe that’s okay.

↟↟↟↟↟

pine cone, tc #9

Friday, June 16, 2017
Traverse City, Michigan
Leelanau County

I wasn’t ready to go yet, but that’s always the case when check out time rolls around.

“Let’s do something around town,” I said to J.
“My love, I have to work.”

A compromise. I dropped him off at this minimalistic hipster coffee shop on the edge of town in between a terrarium store and a place that sells furniture for the 1%. Cute watering can, though. $50 dollars? I can water two plants with this. 

I walked back downtown by myself. A brief foray into Cherry Republic and then into Brilliant Books because we had been to Horizon earlier. I like Brilliant better — it’s cozier and organized in a way that prevents me from leaving without spending at least twenty dollars.

I browsed a bit and then moseyed over toward one of the booksellers.

“Hi.”
“Hey.”
“So, here’s the thing. I’m not from here and we’re leaving today and I’m hoping—”
“Oh, where you from?”
“Downstate originally… Kalamazoo. But I’ve—”
“Ah! Kalamazoo! I lived down there for a few years for—”
“Oh, nice! Where?”

We interrupted each other for ten minutes talking about Kalamazoo. The conversation eventually lulled. I lingered, dumb and staring.
“Soooo, what brings you in today?” People in the midwest are socially generous.

“Right. We have to leave today and I don’t want to go.” I left it there because it was already awkward and I wanted to test this socially gracious person because I have a black and rotting soul.

A quizzical look.

“You’ve gotta have something in here about Michigan, right? Michigan stories?”

He wrinkled his nose.

“Anything?”
“You like Jim Harrison?”
“The Legends of the Fall guy?”
“Yep.”
“He was from up here?” I vaguely knew he was from Michigan, but didn’t realize he had lived so close. Leelanau County, it turns out.

The bookseller walked me over to a section with only his books, handing me a copy of True North.

“Trust me,” he said.

↟↟↟↟↟

A lucky encounter in Suttons Bay.

A high school friend who I haven’t seen in a few years. His wife, on whom I have a schoolboy crush. The first day of their Up North vacation was the last day of ours. We had some beers at Hop Lot. They have two cool kids, but seemed happy to have time away.

“We’re having some other friends join us, another couple.”
“Great!”
“They just moved from Ann Arbor to Holland.”
“Oh, god!” I cried.

↟↟↟↟↟

A few beers. Slightly drunk.

We still had to fit in our usual standbys: Glen Arbor, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Road construction; stopped in the middle of nowhere. Inappropriate advances from my fiance.

There’s a woman—a construction worker—holding a stop sign ten feet away from us. She looks like a Gerry. Well, Gerry with the guys, her crew. Geraldine, perhaps, when she gets gussied up.

What if she sees?

“My love, you can have a hot dog at the Pine Cone.”

 

foxy, ny #14

Sunday, April 8, 2018
Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

“Do you think the barista is a furry?”
“No doubt in my mind. Dresses up like Sonic, but pink.”
“With extra anime-ish eyes.”
“A cyber pink furry.”

img_9644.jpeg
“Her avatar.”

“Oh my god, it looks kind of like her. But, like, how she sees herself which is helpful and tech savvy, when in reality she is neither of those things.”

“Meticulous planning year round goes into her Comic Con costume, but it still ends up looking shitty.”

“Total D list Comic-Con’er.”

“Wears bikinis and body paint. Leaves her mouse ears on the F train.”

the queen is upset, tc #8

Thursday, June 15, 2017
Traverse City, Michigan

The same weird ass shit hangs from the ceiling of the general store.
It tiptoes precariously at the border between the artistically eccentric and ‘it puts the lotion in the basket.’
I was bummed. On this particular day the bulbous and curmudgeonly proprietor wasn’t there.
He scolds people who complain when their sandwiches take too long.
If you believe Yelp reviews, he says things like, “Oh, the Queen is upset she hasn’t been served yet?”
(Which makes me like him even more.)
But really….
What’s so wrong with wanting to spend a few extra minutes in paradise?

↟↟↟↟↟

There’s fog out in the bay, even though it’s sunny.
We’re at the tip of the peninsula; one of my favorite places.
There are a few people wandering around; still early for the season.
A woman stops me to take a picture with her guy in front of the lighthouse. It’s the same spot we asked someone to take our picture the year before, the day after our spontaneous engagement
We snap a few pictures of our own and slap away the sand bees from our ankles.
It looks like my plan for a romantic and lazy late afternoon, sprawled out on a beach blanket, has been foiled.
They don’t produce honey. 🐝

↟↟↟↟↟

We cursed all the way back to the car, stopping frequently to bend down and itch our legs.
“I need a beer,” I said.
“Yes,” J agreed.
(He’s not a beer drinker.)
“I know a place close by—let’s skedaddle.”

↟↟↟↟↟

We turned off M-37 toward our destination.
A flower farm. We stopped to take pictures. Irises, I think.
A bit further to West Bay and we pulled into the Jolly Pumpkin.
The driveway loops around a grove of pine trees.
In that grove: rows of white chairs, an aisle down the middle.
Oh?