Monday, October 11, 2010


I feel a little out of control. Everyone does from time to time. To cope, I have a little bag of tricks I reach into when I need to swing back to center. First, I do what I am doing right now. I browse through the self-help, fiction and memoir sections of Barnes and Noble. Then I wander to the bookshelf where my novel (when a publishing house buys it) would be found.

Once I feel fueled and inspired I head back to the subway station and board the A train at 72nd Street. The Lincoln Triangle B&N, 115 blocks from my apartment, is the closest. The sound of the train running against the rails lulls me into a trance and I do something I have never done before. I miss my stop.

Oh sure, I have gotten on the wrong train before. I got on the 1 rather than the A when I was first moving here. A few months ago I was shopping at Columbus Circle and got on a D rather than an A because they run on the same track and make several of the same stops. I didn’t realize I was leaving Manhattan until I heard the conductor announce, “next stop Yankee Stadium”. And there was that one time I CHOSE to ride the M2 instead of wait for the M4. The M2 dropped me off at 168th Street and Broadway at 11 pm. But at that time of night, Broadway is deserted and tough. And even this little desi girl who can generally blend in with the Dominicans, was one scared little mamacita! Needless to say, I never did that again.

As I watch the 181st station blur by I sigh and debate my options. The next stop is 190th Street. So I can walk the 9 blocks to my apartment. Or I can get on a downtown train for one stop. Sadly, both options will take the same amount of time, so I decide to be lazy and opt for a ride on the next downtown bound A train.

As I wait, I try to determine what is causing the unrest. It is not depression. I have consulted WebMD and I am doing the things that an un-depressed person does --- shower, work, exercise. I don’t think it is anxiety because I don’t have insomnia and I am managing to live in New York where I ride public transport and regularly contend with the threat of terror attacks. But there are times when I wonder, "is this really my life?" When the rent bill comes, I wonder if I am insane for paying $1395 for a Washington Heights apartment. When I wait 20 minutes for a bus, I wonder if I really hate driving that much. When I troll the Internet for my husband, I wonder if he is really out there.

I get home and drop my stuff in the middle of the apartment. I am too discombobulated to be OCD right now. I have to focus on comforting myself and decide to have masala chai. It’s odd, really. I am not much of a tea drinker, but when I want chai, it must be brewed the way Mom makes it. By first boiling water in a pan, and then adding tealeaves and Mom’s homemade chai masala, letting them simmer together, adding milk, straining into a cup and sugaring to taste. Chai is also the only way I ingest real sugar. I am not really a sweets person. I add Equal to my coffee and drink Diet Coke with aspartame. And I don’t like syrup on my pancakes, only butter. But there is something about Mom’s masala chai that makes me feel closer to home, connected to my family and all things desi.

With my warm cup of comfort, I pad into the living room. In an ideal world I would settle down for a Law & Order marathon. But I'm a planner and have a back-up. I flip through my cd collection and slide in a bhangra mix. Slowly the beat of an electric tabla and dholki (Indian drums) speed up and I am dancing and crying, until I cannot breathe.

And like that comfort returns to me.

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