This modeling thing requires flexibility. Whatever the season, I must always be prepared to pack a bag, board a plane, and fly somewhere on even day-of notice. So when I’m at home, I have to take life, literally, one day at a time, and make plans no further in the future than dinner tonight. “Seize the day” is an adage quite befitting of my situation here, and seize I do, but not always in the get-up-and-do-something-spontaneous way you’d imagine (my job brings enough spontaneity to my life: in my free time I tend to be monumentally, prodigiously unspontaneous). For I make the most of the present moment not by deciding one morning to take a road trip or start a not-for-profit, but by doing prosaic little activities that to others might seem banal but for me constitute the myriad delights and satisfactions I dedicated this year to exploring— things I know I won’t have time to do once I’m drawn off to one city or another by the veiled mechanisms of fashion:
- I get up at 6:45 every morning but Sundays, eat breakfast alongside my family all piled in my parents’ bed, then go for a long walk through the woods and fields nearby.
- This done, I usually sit down to write— at the nearest coffee shop. Writing at home is a snag-prone business (so many potential distractions! That chocolate bar you stowed under the egg carton in the fridge. Mom accidentally putting tinfoil in the microwave. The Romance novel you’re so close to finishing. MAD MEN Season 7. The list goes on). At Bulldog, though, (the coffeeshop) I can enjoy a more focused, disciplined environment— and a strong cappuccino, too! The bench in the corner by the window becomes my very own office for two hours each morning, and has seen many a post hammered out that you’ve hopefully read here.
- When I start to worry I’ve been hogging the corner table too long I fold up my laptop and walk home to make lunch. After which I spend about as much time persuading myself to go to the gym as I proceed to spend actually at the gym (almost an hour lol), before coming back home to paint, read, cook, see a friend, write …
At the start of this blog I claimed to be no Liz Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love. If you’re not familiar, she took a sort of gap year from life to do some soul-searching, and got a book deal out of it to boot! The lady certainly knows a good thing when she sees it.) But now I begin to question my assertion of dissimilarity more and more. Of course certain things haven't changed— I’m still not a middle-aged divorcee like she, not to mention renowned writer published in 30 different languages!— but something in my between-jobs lifestyle has certainly come to resemble the routine of someone far older than myself. And I’m talking FAR older…Grandparent older. In fact, I’ve dubbed this routine I step in and out of Intermittent Retirement, for the only things distinguishing me from the frosty-haired, golden-aged members of our populace are 1) I don’t yet have frosty hair and 2) I live with my parents— a luxury not many other retirees have access to. That, and the little matter of walking runways, another thing I haven't seen many seniors up to. Maybe there’s a new business there? Social media starlets, step aside: Maggie Smith's in the house!
Anyway, this retired lifestyle is peaceful and, on most days, productive. Whether it’s affordable— or desirable— outside my current circumstances is another question entirely (and spoiler: the answer is probably no, even for such a homebody as myself). But at this moment in time, it constitutes an ideal counterpart to the job I pursue, balancing the tumult of travel with the tranquility of routine; the pressure of publicity with the security of seclusion; the breathless tempo of fashion (many brands churn out between 4 and 8 collections a year!) with the plodding pace of my writing (it takes me between 4 and 8 days just to finish one piece to satisfaction)…in short, it balances in considerable harmony the outward and inward forces of my gap year. What better arrangement could I ask for?
None that I’m aware of. Which is why I’m considering taking another year off before starting college: a Gap Year 2.0. I’ve been pondering this now for a few months— decisions always put me through the wringer, and this one was no exception— and I have concluded (at least, I think, maybe?) to defer school again this fall in favor of my job, my blog, and, yes, my honorary grandmahood. It is in some ways a leap of faith (what if I don’t continue to get work? What if I lose all my hair? Lose my teeth? Lose my curiosity?) but I feel that I’ve had the great fortune of hitting on something good here— a rare synthesis of freedom and responsibility, a precious interlude between one of my lives, which has already ended, and the next, which has yet to begin— and it just so happens that sometimes I, too, know a good thing when I see it.
At least, I think, maybe.
Ironically, just as I wrapped up this very post, I got a call from my agent: Could I perchance fly to Dallas tonight? Apparently sometimes we can't even plan as far ahead as dinner!