Back in Manhattan:
My life in the States is comparatively less glam than my life abroad. Not that the real-time elements of travel are particularly sexy — because when you are living them, I will admit that they are interesting, but they are also extremely mundane. However, my life in Ordinary Time is sometimes extraordinary too.
Someone once asked me whether I thought I had more of a social life outside of the States because I didn’t have any of my day-to-day cares. And that’s probably part of it. When I’m in London, I can go out with my friends, and not have to worry about being home to walk the dog. Someone calls me to wake me up. Even if I get to work late, I’m still five hours ahead of New York. My friends are typically excited to see me. But since there is distance between us, there isn’t that sense of feeling left-out when I’m not around; of life going on without me when I leave.
I do not feel the same icky competition, or brutality of place when I’m on travel.
London, in particular, is not crushing in the same way New York can be. Cold, irritating, expensive. It might greet you with contempt or disdain. It might reject you. But it lacks the outright meanness of Manhattan.
Because I was tired when I got home, I somehow missed that my floor in my apartment building had acquired a new resident. How could I have missed that?
On our floor, we have a bit of a competition going with regard to our doormats. When the Preppy Couple with the Yappy Daschund moved in about 18 mos ago, they bought a nice, greek key coir door mat. (Don’t let their moniker fool you, I adore these people — their dog is just…a bit much.) I was intimidated by this, so I immediately stepped up and bought my own nice coir doormat. Then, about six months ago, the beautiful but utterly peculiar woman next-door moved in, and I came home one day to find she’d bought a thick, gorgeousmonogrammedcoir doormat.
This would all sound crazy and imagined by me, if I hadn’t one day had a conversation with the female half of Preppy Couple about this very subject.
What is she trying to do with the Monogrammed Mat? Preppy Girl had said, Even Preppy Husband and I are not that pretentious!
When you live in a Manhattan pre-war mid-rise, you don’t exactly have rosebushes and flowerbeds to tend to keep-up-with-the-Joneses. So this is what you do: You get competitive about who has the nicer doormat. (Don’t even get me started on the wreaths at Christmas. Even the Jews put up wreaths, and bedazzle them with little dreidls.)
So this is where we were. Everyone knew the rules of the game. Until…this:
Bless her heart. What the hell was she doing? Was she from Texas? Was she thinking “Bigger is always better”? That was not a doormat — that was an area rug.
I found this both hilarious and infuriating. I had tripped on it on my way to the lift — the new resident lived right next to the elevator opening. And everyone knows that I am perfectly awful at being jetlagged, which made the situation all the worse.
In my addled state, I momentarily contemplated leaving this girl a note. But what would the note say? Should I stick with a short, sweet: Your doormat is too large. Consider replacing this area rug with a regulation-sized doormat.
But what if I was wrong and there was no such thing as a regulation-sized doormat? Did I even care about being wrong? I was a lawyer. Lawyers made their living off of bending facts to suit them. Should I not leave the “regulation-sized” thing open to interpretation, and instead give her size parameters?
Was I just being jetlagged and bitchy?
You be the judge:
Girl With the Area Rug For the Doormat — get yourself something that people aren’t going to trip over. You’re taking up the entire hallway. Manhattan is a mean place, sweetie, and you’ve got to keep up with the Preppies and the International Woman of Mystery and the Beautifully Strange Woman in 7F.
But seriously, you guys. That thing is huge. And actually, quite dangerous.
And that’s the story of how jetlag makes me the most unpleasant person in the whole entire world.