THERE ARE DAYS
There are days when you converse with gale force, when you can't help it. When you watch people look a little winded by you. There are days when you are zinging thru the world, shocking men who've been dating for months or years with the zeal you bring on dates.
All day your face is soft. The chance glance of a stranger tugs your cheeks right into a smile. Merry: you're merry.
What was wrong with Cyril? He had on off switch. Always, in the short span of one date, you watched him shut down. It was bodily, very obviously fatigue. But it came to close to what your Ex did when he was writing plays, when actors were in the room, and directors descended and pressure swelled; Cyril stirred back up the experience of being periodically muted.
turned off to you, benignly but totally. You went home aware that there were many kinds of lovely/ the ranks if lovely and lovable men/of men you were prone to love were full of men who had their own off switches.
The Only Child Guy Who Lived Right Near Times Square: (I thought of you a lot, when I found the bar I beckoned all my dates, too. I remembered how I was suddenly sure part way through our date at the beachy dive bar on 14th street/one block east of U Sq, that its booths were basically you're office.
The Guy Who Didn't Want Kids and Said it Too Fast.
The train spits you back out into the terrain where everyone looks like you. You don't want to see them and they don't want to see you; you don't want all those mirrors showing what a template you fit, what a facsimile you all are. You steal looks and refuse friendliness. What is she buying? Of course she's buying that. What does his bag say? Of course his bag says that. Of course you opened a store called stork. You were bound to come to my street with your stork. And you with your pickles: did you think even for a second about selling another kind of pickles? Surprise me, you snap at strangers in your mind. Is it really that hard to surprise me?
It was a way to summon up the city's strangeness into a kind of song. To chase after the song, to try to catch its lyrics. To snap out of a stultifying wish to be somewhere else and just chase the essence and the fragrance and the beat of this one. It was a way, my own strange way, to talk to strangers. To let out the things I wanted to say to strangers. To send in the direction of strangers , messages in bottles floated towards vanishing silhouettes. They'd never get them, but I wanted to let go of them. It felt natural and releasing and it awakened me to the place, to the humanity pushing through it, defining it, to just send out these little unhearable, never to be opened notes. It felt like a nutritious way to use my interiority, all the space there, while there was no single person to claim much of it, their half. And also, it was an (chest puffed) act of acknowledgement. A declaration that we share this space, I will pretend you do not affect me and that I hardly see you and that your coats hem is brushing my knees, but you do and I do and it is: brushing my knees. It was a way to light a match (you're finding a way to light a match, when it feels like all you are is ashes, in the most ash-toned-like hours, and get that crackle back. Turn yourself back into a person who sees things. Who feels a potion in them. Who needs to express. You're turning yourself back into a person who needs to express. Who won't just sit and suffer it out, a person who sings melodically to herself. It's an outpouring instead of a festering.
It's a quiet battle to Detroit. It was a way to make people pop out, pop out of a dead, flat scene. Spring up and awake.
NEW YORK GAZE
New York makes i t way too clear, all too obvious when you look better. The fog in the eyes of strangers clears, gazes settle on you, steer right towards you; they sneak back for a second look. Yesterday in the same size crowd you got one look. Whatever you did today multiplied that by six. You swing through the crowd feeling your difference. The fog lifted around you; New York sees you.
Every man you dated felt like some answer, some incarnation, manifestation of a single thing/what you shot back out into the world hungering or demanding a parter to give you/to have in a mate. One thing you shot back out into the world… Levity. Sturdyness. Sweeping chivalry. Nothing to do with writing. The assumed desire for marriage a a style nearing on...Something nearing on prep.
The exhilaration of dating is how the day can turn on a dime. Every now and again it does. Loosing track of time. Even on the bad ones, having no idea what time it was when the check came. Losing yourself in a place, a zone, you'd never slip into again, find again, not even with this person.
They didn't need to wow you and they didn't. they showed up, came to you, looking like their picture. Filling the shell of their face and the body you'd stared at, but never with what you'd imagined. The stuff of them, the essence of them, was never what you imagined. They always felt like withered or limp versions of the men you'd drawn in your mind. It was a problem: bringing fantasy into dating. It was a folly you couldn't prevent.
You grew hungry to tell someone everything--to tell anyone everything--breaking the first date record and pouring out your truths. You carried this hunger through crowds, constipated with it.
What was wrong with Cyril? He turned off to you, benignly but totally. You went home aware that there were many kinds of lovely/ the ranks if lovely and lovable men/of men you were prone to love were full of men who had their own off switches.
Sounds like you're in a sewer.
You couldn't believe how fast he was onto a movie after the play. There was no breath. You were in the breathing space. The only swath of your country that had ever felt like a foreign country and he took no breath. His hunger for more of what /than he'd just gotten wearied you.
If he couldn't breathe, rise above himself A little a yard or two, it was hard to imagine that he ever would.
The answer was in how little he said. In the walls, and how little you were filling them with words, healing the bruises/sores of the summer.
It widened your eyes, shook you hard: how fast you got to the question of who was keeping the apartment. It was plain that he'd already thought it through.
Not eating: a refusal to partake with him. The sight of the take-out tins turned your stomach. You hadn't eaten dinner and now you couldn't. Your chest was hard, and your stomach had lost sense of what it was supposed to do: Tell you to eat. Your stomach tightened like a fist. Never in your life had hunger just left you. Quit working.
Your appetite would no un-distort for a long, long time.
It was sinking in fast and brutally: he was saying nothing to keep you. None of the things you declared you'd need explained, smoothened, undone.
No one else could have written his texts. Every one was a blast of Tomek. Tomek! You didn't have games on your phone but this thread of texts was a game. Wit pong.
Tomek tugged mischief out of the world around him, everywhere he went, finding triggers and chances for silliness you could not see, invisible to you. He remakes New York for you. Comedy clubs sprout up to your left and their doors open and the comedians single out you, point out you're on a date; clown shows happen, and the clowning makes you cry; packs of kids racing bikes in Prospect Park at night let you watch and tell you what they're doing. Tomek reminds you how many ways there are to kiss, and the thrill of stepping right into another person's experience/version of the same
Tomek found you before you could even get to the mailbox.
Your wit was ever at play with Tomek's. It did feel, for the opening weeks, those early fall weeks, like together you were authoring a story together. Chapter One. Character Names. Sense pulsing with drama, freckled with surprise.
Tomek staves off your loneliness even when he's miles away, on a bike somewhere, in Bushwick somewhere, brokering another deal. The greatest magnetism between you is between your minds, about wit.
IT WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT MADE NEW YORK IMMEDIATELY OKAY. SOON as your D train nosed up from the tunnel, you'd send him ridge smooch, and by the time the train dove back down to its pipe, shooting under China Town, into the blackness of the next tunnel, you got the words back: bridge smooch! It was the most reciprocal, the most even love you'd had in your life. Bridge Smooch! It was like having walkie talkies in a forest for all the hours you had to part ways, go forage for food.
WHEN TRAINS BREAK OUT INTO THE LIGHT
When the train breaks out into the light, you look up, you pull up out of wherever you were, whatever thought you were huddling inside. Your chin rises, your eyes climb. You appraise the city. There are patches of this city that get thousands more times appraised, acutely seen, per day. The places where trains break out into the light.
When the train breaks out into the light, you're bathed in something life giving. You're asked, reminded to see. Beckoned out of yourself into the unknowable city, into the strain and the reverie of trying to know, anyways. You push into the windows of the projects; you can't get in, so you hover at the glass wondering. The trains rumblig on, it sounds like a pair of wooden logs is rolling around in the chamber beneath you, and now your thoughts are rolling rampant through the new expanse of space, the visible world. You can muse farther, deeper, longer, staring into this rolling scene, auto shops and leave piles and fire escapes pulling behind you.
You're reminded of p. you're given pigeons to watch, ghostly fumes of chimneys in winter. You might see a blimp. You get your first slow chance to behold the sky's blue, the days ratio of cloud to sky. The state of clouds. The cloud situation. How much the clouds are letting show.
When the train breaks out into the light, your mind frees. There's relief and a lift off and a barely conscious letting go of whatever you just held. Your mind loses track of the worries festering in the train car, and runs free as a city dog unleashed/in its first open field.
You're released from the box of your life, the frames of your day, when the train breaks out into the light.
Maybe return to this meditation, right after Hermes notes that I was riding east to west, perhaps chasing light.
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THAT MOMENT WHEN THE TRAIN BREAKS OUT INTO THE LIGHT.
The F into the rustbelt vista of Gowanus. The 4 towards the Bronx parthenon of Yankee Stadium. The Shuttle, even...
That roller coaster lift. The rickety climb.
The suddenly scenic drop, or the bullet straight shot. Speed you can feel. Velocity expressed in towers and roofs and poles pulled behind you.
Breath leaves your chest, always, More than you knew was in there, more than you felt yourself penting up.
You'd love to see a movie montage of the faces of New Yorkers right at this moment when their trains pull out into the light, when the cave converts to sunroom. I'd love to watch face after face, as their eyes adjust to the element they forgot about: light. I'd love to catch that most elemental pleasure, raw pleasure, pleasure in the raw. That flicker.
When the train breaks out into the light, your entire orientation shifts. You were getting from a point to a point, and now you're on a ride. You're riding something, watching where it takes you. You're being treated by the work of these wheels and the somewhere captain, getting carried. The train is your carriage; the city your feast.
DAN THE DEAD MAN APPEARS
There isn't a second to think thru what you're doing. You pull on a coat and you do it.
You react like you would to the sight of a unicorn striding up your driveway, to Benjamin Franklin suddenly beside you at work (on the train). Impossible: yet right there. That's him. Were there anyone home to yell out to, you'd yell, it's him! As it were, in the echo-y space of the room that was once your shared office, you say with amazement his name.
When you met you were aching for a place to put wine glasses in the cupboard. This was the image, the most clear fantasy your yearning could draw.
He's the most wound up coach, the most irrate dad. He sees sins on our faces; he calls them out at everyone who rises to abandon his train. He rages at us. The more you hear him lay into the words, his lyrics, the more the storm song holds you. You should get up but you can't.
It's so very out of the Bible, and as much a page ripped from the book of New York. It's the meanest possible preface to Noah's Ark. A scathing preface to Noah's Ark.
You're in an apartment where all you can hear is wind.
HOMEMAKING WITH DAN
He couldn't wait for you to quit fin nicking with things; you couldn't wait to show him fin nicking was worth it. The delight of that August was showing him how you could make a home, from so little, you could cobble together a beautiful home. Setting him up better than he'd ever been set up. You were showing off your nesting muscles. You were the one who flew off, who had a clear addiction to flight, but you were also a master at nesting. You were showing him the other side of your paradox.
His pride in the place filled you, swelled you.
You both did your part. He made sure there was always white wine.
The place had fake wood floors; you discovered their downslope. You loved that this was part of the charm, such a thing could charm in a starter apartment.
Rain that wanted to be called monsoon. make a monsoon. gathering towards a monsoon.
You lobbied hardest, most confidently for barn red in the kitchen. You knew that'd be right.
The office was the only troubling room, where compromise eluded, where a mistake was made. The office would prove the trickiest room of all, beyond the august of painting. It was too bright, the yellow you picked. The peak of sunlight made your street side room a blinding room.
You had mirror-image law firm desk, more drawers in each than you could ever use. A foreclosure find. He wanted to get one of those fold-out walls for the middle of the room. He was adamant about not sharing an office. He needed to work alone. One of those moments when your mate seemed to out-Colleen you. Hard to believe someone was more intense, more protective of their work than you.
Smoke grey was the color but it felt like a sealant, too. Never had you lived inside paint that sealed so much out. The color he picked made the bedroom a sanctuary. You cluttered it with so few things. You let it be a place of smoke grey, and the bed it wrapped around/seemed to hold/wrap.
A year later almost to the day.
In the montage of life in the apartment; memory montages most of the hours you spent in that apartment; just a few moments stand in /claim their own scenes. They have their own reels. Their reels sink into the grooves of your mind; the two meld. Memory memorizes itself. less and less liable to change. Memory grows certain of itself. In time, it knows no other way of telling its story/stories.
Every memory, blurred into montage or drawn out/suspended in scene, though, appears held in the glow of the walls, the colors you picked. No memory seems able to squeak out of those hues.
Why does it feel like all of the ache is in the walls?
Ache pulls into the walls, sets up shop there, resides there. Fades no less than paint does. The aches in the walls colors because all of the memories are; all of the memories wear precisely these colors.
Today will be slow. Coffee will do nothing. Coffee will stir the sludge in your bloodstream but not clear it. The sludge you feel all through you is yours for (what remains of) the day. You wish so much didn't remain of this day. You'd give what remained away; you'd shut yourself down and sleep, were there a half-healthy way to do that. For what remains of the day: there is nothing you can find to do that won't make you sadder. The handles of men you could date, the frozen faces of men you cannot decide whether to date, their names, the blue frame of the website that claims it is the modern era's cupid, has no cupid powers at all, that in fact removes the entire/obliterates the serendipity of an arrow of attraction striking you, that gives you instead way too much prerogative to coldly sift through the crowd.
What you've written yesterday becomes a thing you can't bear to see. You pull out from under your bed (as you rearrange your room as new) a pile of notebooks from Beijing, from Havana, from Cairo, and the sight your own hurried handwriting is somehow repulsive. Actually repulsing. All that rapture. Young. Excessive. Masturbatory. How could you possibly make anything from all those notes? You withdraw to the living room and lie down with a glass of red wine on your belly. To recover from reminder of your gusty moods, on the grimmest of days, you drink wine lying down.
You cannot soften your face.
The range of energies you bring thru space turns up almost daily proof that the world is always reacting to us. Serving back what we served it. People say New York pronounes and ratchets up yr internal world more than any other place. It also floods you with faces that echo back you, hourly, what you're wordlessly saying to the world.