THE BLOG
03/26/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Trip Back to Bountiful

This is strange, but absolutely true. My bathroom ceiling in New York is leaking. I came back east to go to fashion week for a media client. (Yes, I'm happy to fly back using miles -- I need the day rate -- and yes I still have my apartment in New York, which is cheaper than my one in Venice Beach). What does it mean that water is pouring into both my Venice and Manhattan bathrooms? I am waiting for the new Super, whom I have never met, to come over at 11:30 pm to fix it.

I don't want to live under a dark cloud. Is this some kind of sign that the bathroom ceilings in both my rentals are falling in? Am I no longer living in a bubble, am I vulnerable, what does it mean? I am trying to start a new life, fresh, and clean. There is an inch of dirty, urine-y water over everything in my New York bathroom.

As I wait for the Super, I feel ridiculously overdressed. I've been wearing a black, sparkly evening dress under a turtleneck, a trick a fashion stylist once taught me. But it's too much; I felt uncomfortable all day and now I feel awkward in my own apartment. I'm turning on New York, I can feel it. Editors get dressed up for fashion week, it's part of the deal, but I'm missing my slip-on Born clogs and Kauai sweatshirt I wore for a week straight in Venice.

The first familiar person I see as I venture near the fashion tents is my dear friend, The Mentor (one of the only mentors I have had in my 25-year career, we'll get to that in another post). I respect him and have always depended on his wise career advice. On my way back from LA, I received an email from him, the subject line was, "Are you ok?" He grabbed me, "I need to talk to Martha," brushing away the other people who wanted to speak with him and me. "What are you doing? Why did you move? What's going on with you?" and looked at me with the fatherly eyes of someone whose daughter has just had a nervous breakdown. He told me that the PR Director in his publishing company had also circulated my last post to him, worried.

I didn't realize that my departure from my past reality would be met with skepticism, or condescension, or frantic worry. How could anyone not see my California move I've been talking about for two decades as total liberation from a life too traveled? I told him to picture me on Venice Beach with the weightlifters, see the humor in it, and know I am actually really happy. I'm trying to console him. But also it's pretty easy to trip my panic button. Suddenly I'm worrying about my rent(s); maybe I can save a few days worth in New York since my bathroom isn't functioning? I'm taking showers at Equinox.

Sitting in the tents all dressed up I wonder who else over 40 is pondering their rent. Of course the economy is a topic of conversation. But there are still sequins and furs on the runways; fashion is about escape, dreams, optimism, right? The contrast is jarring. I see a Vogue editor on Sixth Avenue. I am impressed that he is walking and not getting into a Town Car which most editors keep waiting 24/7 all week long. Then I remember the Vogue office is only one block away. But Town Cars, fashion, luxury, it's all changing. Luxury isn't fancy anymore. There's an ad on Taxi-TV for Smith & Wollensky; the big juicy steaks look so good but I wonder, who is eating there?

I think about my bungalow in Venice. Yes, it smells a little like cat. And I really would like a TV and a rug. But I'm motivated to find more work to pay for it, because the feeling of freedom I get when I'm in it is something rare, something I covet. Isn't that luxury?

The fashion show I was most captured by was William Rast; jeans, sleeveless black vests and t-shirts tucked in. The show's flier describes the inspiration as Thelma and Louise, "featuring two strong and confident women, traveling across America, offering inspiration in their attitude of freedom." Love them.

It's almost midnight; The Mentor has emailed with a personal project he wants to pay me to do. I'm mortified. The Super has finally arrived and looked at the ceiling with a bit of compassion. Maybe it's water from an upstairs tub, not toilet, filling my sink and coating my floor? My black suede Robert Clegerie boots are going to get wet, I can tell. Then I can't help but notice the Super is kind of attractive. Is this my silver lining?