Little Thoughts for Regular Days

The park was wet and empty.  The people had gone away again, though at least not on account of snow.  Drops filled dips in pavement one by one until they had created something meaningful, something of substance.  Plastic bags, torn and shredded, clung to the budding boughs of trees, now lined with the suggestion of a color.  Purple.  Vermillion.  Crimson red.  A pot full of yellow daffodils sat on top of a strip of unnaturally green Astroturf, immune to the benefits of rain.

Below ground, the world was still gray, living in perpetual monochrome.  Filthy, soot-soaked tiles lined the coved ceilings.  Someone sang a song at the end of the platform, their voice carrying the length of the space.  I looked up and down the platform at the bodies in motion, people positioning themselves for a place on an arriving train.  How much of each other we didn’t know, would never know.  The people, like countries, with their own histories and wars, their boundaries and rules of governance.  Millions of little countries.  The pieces of people.

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Field Trip

My life.  Overexposed.  Again.  Click through below to arrive at your destination: The Flip.

I want to come see you…is that terribly silly?

I was an emotional masochist.  I did things I knew would only end up hurting me, but I felt compelled to do them anyway.  Something told me that if I didn’t try, I would regret it later, and that thought – the regretting and wishing and could-have-should-have-would-have feeling – was worse than the immediate disappointment I would likely experience.  I had to know that, at one point, I followed my heart, even if it were at the expense of my dignity.

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Life on a Bike

I bought my bike off of a boy named Peter who lived on a park filled with flowering trees.  It was a red Motobacane.  Made in France.  He brought bikes back from Connecticut and fixed them up in his apartment.  It had curved handlebars that made me think I was going to fly forward and knock my front teeth out on uneven pavement.  My boots clung shakily to the old silver pedals made out of dulled aluminum.  It felt strange riding again; I hadn’t been on a bike since a year previous, when I was still living in West Hollywood and would only ever ride the half a mile to see movies at The Grove.

Not wanting to take advantage of Peter’s time, I rode the bike down the sidewalk just twenty feet before turning around.  It wasn’t comfortable.  My legs bent too close to my body and my back hunched forward like a cat.  It took Peter offering two times to raise the seat for me to accept.  I did stupid things like this often – not changing things that would be the obvious solutions to my problems.  “It’s okay,” I would say, shaking off someone’s invitation to help me, even if it meant I did things like not buy a bike that was perfectly fine for me and wasting an afternoon walking thirty minutes from North Brooklyn to South Brooklyn and then thirty minutes back, empty handed and frustrated.

He took my purse and told me to ride around the park, get a feel for the bike.  Changing the seat had made all the difference; my legs rotated in circular motions, the left knee rising as the right knee fell, over and over again.  I rode through the park’s center, little kids skateboarding and riding scooters, unwatched, their parents likely enjoying some time to themselves.

It was cloudy and the air felt damp against my skin.  It had been so long since I had thought about nothing.  My normal thought process – frantic and planning and searching and panicked – had slowed down to a tolerable roar.  Left.  Right.  Left.  Right.  Steady.  Left.  Right.  Steady.  I thought only of not falling over.  Bliss.

I came back to where he was, standing at his place against an over-painted wrought iron gate.  “I’ll take it,” I told him, and then I handed him a bunch of twenty-dollar bills that I counted out between my right and left hand, the sound of paper against paper indicating our transaction.

“One two three four five.  One two three four five.  One two three four five.”

I thanked him and rode down Driggs on my very own bike.  It felt strange to be in New York and own an item that was a further extension of myself.  Vainly, I wondered what I looked like riding it down the street.  “There’s that girl on the red bike,” someone might say, and they might see my blonde hair and my focused stare and think that the bike said something about my personality, which it didn’t.  There was something liberating I knowing that I had purchased something not wholly because I thought it looked cool or was in my taste, but that it would get me from A to B, that it was light, and that its 57 cm measurements accommodated my long legs.

Later, I met my friends on Grand Avenue.  We were riding over the bridge to watch the friend of a friend play in some beer-soaked bar on Houston.  I was indescribably nervous.  The bike and I were still new to each other and for whatever reason I didn’t trust it.  I kept thinking – even though I had learned how to ride a bike over twenty years ago – that a tire would come loose and I would pitch forward.  I imagined myself falling over on pavement.  I thought about what bones would likely break first – if it would be my arm or my collarbone or possibly a hip.  “Get a helmet,” my mom told me.  I thought about that, too.

I watched my friends barrel down the sloped portion of the bridge, gladly picking up speed.  I was jealous of their freedom.  I pumped the brakes and kept my pace measured.  Somewhere towards the end of the bridge, I began to realize I had trust issues in general.  With people.  With things.  It would take me awhile to get used to this again.

At the bar, my friends drank shots of tequila and drank bottles of beer.  A jazz band played horrifically in the corner, obliterating my ability to hear and think clearly.  Outside, the sun went down and the clouds moved in, threatening to bring in another day of rain.  And in an hour, we left, going back up and over the bridge.  A giant, yellowed full moon hung low above the bridge.  Lightning snapped in the distance, beyond Manhattan, beyond Brooklyn.  We rode next to moving subways filled with blue seats and stationary passengers.  Cuh-clack!  Cuh-clack!  Cuh-clack!

In Brooklyn, white flowers bloomed on the branches of trees overhead.  Dogwoods, I think.  The neon lights from bars and Laundromats reflected off of their petals, changing them blue and purple and red in parts.  We dropped Jo off at her apartment.  Justin came next.  We rode together along the water, Manhattan to our left, shining and sturdy and glowing brightly.

“I fucking love New York!” I yelled.  “I fucking love New York!”

And then I rode alone, just me and the moon, my love of the place having come back, just like riding a bike.

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Field Trip

Check out my piece on Flip Collective today.  Click through on the image below.

My street waited to be charming again.  It was April and I could see it in the buds that formed at the ends of branches, in the park covered in grass and not snow.  Change was so slow to arrive.  Winter had us scratching at our pale arms and pulling on darkening hair.  Going out and socializing just felt like something we had to do to avoid the complete disintegration of our mental health.  It was formulaic and necessary, like taking antipsychotics.  December and January.  February and March.  I slept through it all.  I was waiting for a reason to love this place again.

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A Brief History of Old History

People had been talking about Monday since the Thursday beforehand.  Seventy-four degrees was something to talk about after six months of winter.  Everyone had plans in advance: skateboarding, grilling, having meals al fresco.  It was like organizing a birthday party for a group of eager ten-year-old children.

I met an old friend for lunch, someone I have known since 1998.  He was a senior and I was a freshman.  I remember the first time I saw him he was wearing a blue polo shirt and white shoes.  He had skinny little ankles and big feet.

He used to drive me to school in a black Ford Mustang with a black leather interior.  We ate at the Cheesecake Factory and Chili’s Bar and Grill.  I read Maxim magazines on his bed and painted him things back when I used to paint.  We dated until I was nineteen.

We had only seen each other twice in the last seven years, on account of boyfriends and girlfriends and life in general.  He asked about my family and I asked about his.  His brother was in high school.  My brother was finally graduating from college.  Our respective parents were still the same, proof that people and their personalities were permanent things, immovable like ten-ton stones.

He ordered a chicken sandwich that he didn’t eat.  I ordered hummus and pita that went similarly untouched.  We talked about boys and girls and dating.  “Are you seeing anyone right now?” he asked.  I scoffed, rolling my eyes while I chewed on a piece of pita bread.  “Yeah, no.”  I was sick of that old story.

We drank water until there was nothing left in the glass.  We picked at our plates until the waiter took them away.  We asked for the check, paid, and left.

The outside air was balmy and warm and creeping towards 80 degrees.  My tights were a needless accessory and my leather jacket equally excessive.  The streets buzzed with a pent-up energy.  People laughed and spoke animatedly, swinging their shopping bags around in the victory of feeling new.  Everyone collectively felt the burdensome oppression of the last six months lift briefly, like waking up from a coma and realizing you’re still alive.

We wandered aimlessly though downtown, stopping in stores and not buying anything.  He told me about girls I couldn’t relate to, girls that I secretly wished I could be myself.  Gold diggers, users, ambitionless things who just wanted Range Rovers and guaranteed alimony payments.  Sometimes I wanted to stop thinking like a boy and start behaving like a dumb girl, ready for breeding and little else.

Eventually we ended up in the back patio of a bar that always smelled like rotting wood and old beer.  I asked for a glass of the least dry red wine they had.  Bordeaux.  My friend ordered a Grey Goose on the rocks, the same vodka he drank in high school.

The hours passed lazily until he had to go back uptown.  When we hugged I felt an understanding of history and its importance.  There were people who would always know you better than most, even if they had missed the years in between then and now.  We were still so similar, he and I, though the lives we were living now were so different than before.

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Pardon My Absence

I’ve been working on a lot of projects, hence the lagging in posts.  But hey, there’s always archives from 2008 for you to sift through.  Be back soon.

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Field Trip!

Check out my piece on Flip today.  Click image below.

I sit in a too-warm corner of La Esquina, waiting for my friend to arrive while damp patrons order fish tacos at a register across the room.  Other diners approach a doorman guarding the downstairs restaurant – a cavernous space you have to walk through the kitchen to get to, passing Mexican cooks in cloth caps and dirty aprons, the tile floor littered with chopped vegetables.  “I’ve got a party of ten for ten-thirty ready for table three,” he says into a headpiece, as though he were directing flight traffic and not large parties of friends to the wooden tables below…

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