we all read “the opposite of loneliness,” by marina keegan, and knew it was that way, and we had some inkling that it would be this way too, but really the finality of it will never be the same way again hits you when you want to eat tacos with someone you like and you realize there’s no one around. when you’re having a bad day and can’t tell a friend about it when you bump into him or her at the library.
it’s so bright and crisp outside right now, and i’m reminded of my first days of kindergarten and the huge backpack i took to school that dwarfed my frame, and i have this picture by the administration building with my dad, who looks somber even though i’m sure that on the inside he was so elated i was finally embarking on the thing (my education) that would come to dictate his life and his work for the years to come. it’s so bright and crisp outside—the air cuts right to your bones—and i’m thinking about the leaves on the quad, the schizophrenic squirrels that dart across campus, my arms weighed down by books, the places we would meet after class, all that coffee we drank in all those coffee shops. it will never be that way again, will it? we will never have that again, will we?
i’m just wondering when those memories will no longer be a dull ache—when the vision is there but the sensation is gone. i’m just wondering if i’ll stop missing everything all the time even when i’m living in a city that over-saturates me with noises and spectacles every day—should i really be feeling those aches when there is so much to distract me?
it’s the same as when you lose a person as when you lose a place: you mourn. you say goodbye. you cherish. and then one day you wake up and it gets a little easier.
i’ve eaten a home-cooked meal today, i walked around midtown during dusk today, and i checked out three books from the library. i had forgotten what it felt like to do those small things that make you feel content.
If you’re ever walking around midtown during the height of a late summer’s afternoon, let Slow Club’s “Tears of Joy” mark the beat to which you walk. Sit down by the fountain on 52nd and Park right next to the sidewalk and watch all the people walking past, realizing that people have been walking past like this for years, decades, and perhaps will continue to do so for a century or two. In that moment you move so quickly along the axis of time, from past to future. Sometimes New York City feels like the first and last place on earth.
jack and i are waiting for the platos we ordered from some mexican place off seamless. it’s late—almost 10. tonight as the last dregs of light drained from the sky we both spent some time in the backyard of our sublet in fort greene. we’re staying in the bottom half of a brownstone that has a rectangular plot of garden and a hammock. i smoked a cigarette on the hammock and looked up at the cloudless blue sky and watched airplanes fly by. the sky was a washed out blue—no dazzling streaks of pink or purple or vermilion. just blue, dotted with the lights of airplanes and a few faint stars.
this weekend the three of us went out to jack’s grandpa’s home in sagaponack, a town that only recently became incorporated a decade ago and is so tiny everyone who lives there knows about the goings-on of every one else. it’s filled with the kind of immense wealth you only hear about in the real estate pages of the times—our first morning there we walked along a private beach that was dotted with huge modern slabs of buildings and hopper-esque manses. we met up with three other friends, cut through to amangansett in a puttery old volkswagen convertible with an 80s style houndstooth interior. i sat in the trunk of the highlander as we took a cooler full of beers and two surfboards to montauk where we swam in the cold, salty ocean and climbed up cliffs until our skin was covered in a thin layer of mud. both friday and saturday night we stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, nursing beers, grilling hot dogs and burgers, and hovering around the light of the fire as we tried to point out individual constellations from a sky thick with stars.
so far living in new york has gone so smoothly, i’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. it’s as if i saved all these chips over all these years and made the right gamble at the perfect time. i have a job i enjoy and that i’m learning a lot from—a job where i’m able to go down into huge warehouses and storerooms and hold a warhol or chagall in my hand if i want to. i’m moving into a loft in bushwick in a week’s time with two of the most loyal people i know. i have a library card. i have friends who make me laugh and teach me something new all the time.
last week there was a moment where i was walking around midtown after work—walking the few stretch of blocks from where i am at rockefeller center to bryant park. i got a gyro from a street cart on the corner, and there was something particular about how the light of early dusk (a golden light, not a blue one) was falling on the skyscrapers—and something about the mass of people bustling around me—that made me feel insanely happy to be but one speck. finally, i didn’t feel merely insignificant. i felt a part of something larger, better, worthier. it was a quiet (the most quiet) feeling of belonging.