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Taxi cab: a mildly amusing anecdote

          It was close to the end, on a slow moving Friday, that I decided to leave on a train for Connecticut to spend the weekend. It was a decision I’d made quickly earlier that same day while at work, and the location I had decided upon just as quickly after briefly looking on a map: a small town near the coast, chosen for its inexpensive hotels, its convenience of transportation, and its distance away from the things troubling me in New York.

          Once the plan was made, the next few hours dripped by as I watched the clock hands move. I ended up walking out of work ten minutes earlier than I should have that day, flying up Broad Street with such haste that I clipped the sides of several unsuspecting bystanders who looked to me with surprise, but I didn’t care what they thought of me nor did I slow my pace until I was outside my apartment, where I stood for a few seconds with my hand on the door before unlocking and pushing it open in one quick motion: everything lay quiet and untouched, private and still – no one was home yet. I walked around the apartment grabbing things – a few items of clothing from the white dresser by our bed, my electric toothbrush, three of my most well-worn books from the bookshelf – then threw them all into my bag and left for the subway to the train station as fast I could walk.
          Grand Central was more grand and more beautiful than I remembered. The last time I was there he was with me and we’d run through a long echoing terminal so that we wouldn’t miss our train to the beach, my summer sandals slapping smartly against the grey stone floor.
          That Friday, I was alone, though still in a rush, but for different reasons now. I looked for the booth with the shortest line and bought my ticket from a woman whose quick words and efficient movements eased my restlessness and impatience.
          The earliest departure time left me with more than an hour to kill, but I had a train ticket in my back pocket now, a bag of comforts by my side, and the promise of a weekend all to myself ahead, and these things, too, were calming. I found an empty bench off to the side of a walkway and sat against the marble wall for a long time watching people walk by in clusters and groups, alone, in twos and threes, to and from the gates and shops and restaurants. Then I read until it was time to leave. Right before boarding, I took out my phone and composed three versions of the same text to him, then deleted them all and wrote simply that I would be gone for the weekend.   >> Continue reading..

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New York and I, and goodbyes

          Why why why is it like slogging through molasses to begin writing again after you haven’t in a while?

          But I’ve been busy, sort of. October was eventful with new friends and dear old ones, with quiet hellos and quick goodbyes, and wet with squalling rapacious winds and rains; then as slyly as it came, October vanished, Autumn settled even more firmly in place, and there was bite to the air.
          Almost all of my October was spent from morning to night on a class that I’d been taking. I’m not naturally inclined toward the lifestyle and habits of a good student; school and I don’t get along and we never have. But I was on my toes this time, and I cared, which made a difference: for once, in all my pathetic years of formal education and half-(cl)assed efforts, I didn’t procrastinate on every assignment ever given, I kept reasonable sleeping hours on weekdays, I made a conscious effort to pay attention and participate in class, I did homework at home. I studied (a little). What’s more—and for those who know me best, this next detail will astonish more than the rest—I maintained these good studenting behaviors for the entire length of the course (more or less). That’s right, the entire length of the course (more or less). And for such unprecedented diligence, I was rewarded with finally experiencing what it’s like to not be a terrible student. (It’s not bad.) Of course, it helped that the class was only one month long, and thankfully, too: I was running dangerously low on steam by the end, green and tender as I was to any kind of marathon effort in this discipline.  >> Continue reading..

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Books and bruises

          I was rereading a collection of short stories by William Trevor when I came across a passage in one of his stories that gave me pause. I remember the first time I read the story I had stopped at the same place, and something about it stayed with me, because ever since then, at odd moments here and now, that passage will flash through my mind and I can still feel the potency of it.

          An infidelity occurs in the story, and the passage takes place in the middle of a difficult conversation between the husband and wife. The wife has just confessed to her husband of the summer love affair she had with a man named Sebastian. She says to him:

I ended it. And besides, it wasn’t much.

          And then the passage:

A silence grew between them. ‘I love you,’ Sebastian had said no longer ago than last June, and in July and in August and September also. And she had loved him too. More than she loved anyone else, more than she loved her children: that thought had been there. Yet now she could say it wasn’t much.

          Few tasks are more tedious than explaining in detail why you love a piece of art, so I won’t — but I love this paragraph, and I love the last sentence of this paragraph. It is so well written, so plain, and so true.  >> Continue reading..

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Two Sundays

          Two Sundays ago, I had gone to sleep the night before at some ridiculous hour approaching dawn as I so often do on Fridays and Saturdays—which really is a terrible habit, but time just seems to disappear from me those nights—and I awakened in the early afternoon to slanted beams of sunshine that lit the white walls of my room with long angular planes of light. It was a welcome change, as the days preceding had been overcast and wet.

          I left the house soon after with vague plans to spend the day in a nearby café several blocks away, but the weather was so warm and golden that I turned right on 10th instead of going straight, and found myself in Prospect Park. I walked along a dirt path that cut and curved through the park grounds, keeping under the expansive stretches of shade cast by small scattered groves tall and rich with foliage, and after a while, stepped off the path and into the grass and walked until I came across a small hill, where I kicked off my sandals and sat down. I decided to spend the afternoon there, in the generous shade of an enormous tree whose long outstretched branches sank with the weight of its thousands of leaves that rippled and shimmered in the sun like millions of little feathers.  >> Continue reading..

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Friends who are suddenly near

          

          Two more have taken the dive and made the well-traveled migration from Point A to New York City, the land for the restless and hungry. She is my oldest, dearest friend, and he is her fiancé, one of the nicest, most genuine people I know: they have said goodbye to their families, to San Francisco, to their beautiful apartment with the bay windows, and flown three thousand miles eastward. Now they are living out of suitcases and duffel bags and sleeping on the small grey sofa-bed in my room while they wait for next week when they can move into the apartment that will be their new home in Brooklyn.
          It is nighttime now, and I am sitting by the small wooden countertop in my kitchen, trying to keep quiet; they are both asleep already, because she is a morning person and likes to get up early and because he loves her and is accommodating to bizarre preferences. I am not a morning person, although sometimes I think I could be if I tried, and so I am here still, wide awake at this late hour when the house is at its most quiet and dark, not yet willing to go to bed.
          I have been such a solitary person this past year that it is a little disorienting to suddenly have close friends who are nearby and who are not leaving after a week or two but staying for good. I have gotten used to being by myself wherever I go, and although I have met people here whom I would call friends, I’ve become used to feeling alone, even when I am not. It feels strange now to come home and have people there to chat with and to listen to and to talk with about the day—and my mouth feels to me slow and clumsy from disuse when I share aloud thoughts and ideas and observations that have grown used to keeping inside.  >> Continue reading..

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On love and loss and what remains

          I feel like I’ve been away for a long time, selfishly wrapped inside a cocoon of my own making, tending to stubborn injuries.
          I was in love, and then I wasn’t anymore, and the small bright world that held my life and which had become pale and silent had broken then, into crumbled misshapen pieces. Looking back on these past six months, I see now that I have essentially been in grief – not because I still wanted to be with him, he who had for so long made me dizzy with happiness, but because I no longer did: I grieved for what might have been, and for what was; for the lost feelings that had once felt like they could never be lost; for the cold, immutable fact that there are things in life that cannot and will not change, no matter how hard you work and no matter how much you want them to be different.
          That last one is particularly difficult to come to terms with because it applies to so many things in life, and because it requires nothing, but takes everything. And as it’s taking, it stands behind a wall of stone, quiet and still, unmoved by anger and untouched by despair. The word, indifference comes to mind, but it doesn’t feel like indifference exactly. It just feels true, and when everything is calm and clear, it almost feels gentle in how simple it is. Soothing, even. It is the cosmic equivalent of someone saying to you when you’re in pain, “That’s how life is sometimes, so learn to live with it,” which is as kind a thing to say as it is cruel.  >> Continue reading..

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