Someone's recently called this journey to Manhattan Catholic churches a quest. I've been to approximately three-fourths of them, and have about twenty or so remaining, and I guess it is that, a quest. It's a lot of things: fun, interesting, addictive, informative, an anchor.
I say that last bit in light of looking back at my life as a whole the past three years here in the city, the last two of which I've spent contributing to this blog. My job treats me well but in all honesty I'm not particularly enthusiastic about the work, which I tend to consider empty and meaningless, and where I observe everyone working, overall, just to make some sort of profit; and in a lot cases it's a career filled dealing with many (though there are some good) gripy, shifty, and annoying people - and ultimately it does nothing for me. And it's getting to me lately. As I've written in some past posts, I do find some peace sometimes over the weekends, but come Monday, I am stuck and immobile once again throughout the 40 hour work week in all its humdrum greyness, yearning to break free, but frozen in the lethargic anxiety it covers me in. It weighs on me. It suffocates me. I am but a service bot in a meaningless service job, breaking down and rusting.
But if the weekends and activity free me for 48 hours from this grind, shouldn't I find respite away from work each evening, in the sanctity of my home? Alas, I live in a somewhat okay apartment but in a very shitty neighborhood because it's all I can afford - and it is a shitty, crazy, strange, fucked up neighborhood (has anyone ever experienced living on 135th between Broadway and Amsterdam? It's nuts!) And it offers no peace to me. It's a stressful, busy, ugly street, noisy polluted and disgusting. I'll have to find a new place soon, something more to my suiting. Such is the stress I need to endure over through the end of the year: searching for a new job and a new place to live, two of the most painful experiences out there.
I have friends in my life who are there for me when the times are rough, good friends, but friends I am lately distanced from, plus many are beginning to move away: my best friend is leaving for Japan at the end of the year, one friend has headed away already to Yale Divinity school, many more are going away to grad schools somewhere, and all my Brooklyn friends are just becoming inundated more and more in their married, couplish, career-oriented grown-up life styles.
So honestly, my day-to-day life consists of not all that much holding me here in New York city any longer, save for the question, what else would I do; a desire to give myself a couple more years to see what I may succeed with and accomplish; and more than anything, this quest. Is that ridiculous? Should I escape to greener pastures (in my head, at least) somewhere else despite these twenty-odd churches left to visit? Is the fact that this journey to churches is becoming the single most important part of my life in New York city just plain stupid?
This journey is prominent in my life, almost at it's center, though I have not centered my life around it. Oftentimes, the weekend rolls around and I am caught off guard, having not chosen a church to attend before Mass times are upon me; or I simply neglect to go to Mass, choosing instead some trivially entertaining pursuit. Still, it is there, in the back of my head, this to-do, this must-do, this have-to, before I can leave this city for further adventures or a quiet retreat. The quest, and those other three pervasive parts of my life.
I pray daily, asking for things I believe I need and in thanks for those things I've been given. I wander into churches, often recklessly, to witness the visual beauty humans have constructed in interpreting God. My faith, at times, very deep, can also run thin when I begin to forget all I have and have had, and all that's been given us to begin with.
Alcohol don't bother me no more. At times in my life I've worried it would consume me. Not now. It's still something I enjoy, too much. At the present though, not a danger. My compulsion at present is to find a job I like a whole hell of a lot better than the one I have, or better yet my niche. Because if I continue to waste just one more minute of my talents and potential, going on and running through my same drab day-to-day, I think I really will go mad, and become just another one of those shouting rageful New Yorkers we see roaming the streets, intermingling in our midst on the subways, yelling at their kids' soccer games on the weekends, or driving my car through the nearest Dunkin' Donuts.
I've been chasing something up to now that didn't rightly exist. Now, it's different. There's a girl out there I've liked for a whole long while, and a chance finally to be together. Only problem is she lives worlds away, the west coast, Los Angeles. Karma rears it's ugly head because I've told friends countless times again and again never to find themselves caught up in long-distance relationships, that they are too full of stress, cause one never to live fully in the moment as your thoughts are always far away with that other person who's not around, and that the time you do get to see each other, those vacation weeks or long holiday weekends, don't count because there's too much newness and excitement to allow things between the two of you to be very real. And here I am: nightly phone calls, long emails, spare time spent searching the internet for cheap flights. And it's all worth it, I realize when it's the right other person. And I'm trying to convince her to move here to New York, expressing all the love and interest within me, telling her (and getting excited, myself) about all the times we could share in the Big Apple. And somewhere in the back of my head, with not much holding me here, I see myself moving out west, but not before finishing this journey, which is quickly becoming not just some side hobby project, but all I have left in New York city.
My ex-girlfriend, despite being a Catholic, never understood what I was doing, never really got it and so I never let her further in. My L.A. friend gets it, gets me, more than most others have. She's doesn't share my faith, but she has respect for it, and something about her touches my spiritual side unlike any of the other girls I've dated here. And despite differences in our faith, she seems to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing, seems even intrigued and excited, and has even given it a name: