I was out with my friend Frankie the other night. It was just the two of us after a show, which was itself after a party, so it was more-or-less the inevitable time just before you call it quits and find a cab home. We were at a bar. Some Williamsburg special with cut up playing cards festooning the tables. It wasn’t our first choice, but it was out of the cold and we could hear ourselves over the pulse of the jukebox.
“One day, I’m going to miss this,” Frankie told me. It was a thought that had come to him the night previous while walking home in Bayside, so late it was morning. It wasn’t, he explained, just a thought that struck him because he was walking home or because of the train ride before that (or the midnight movie before that); instead it was a strange awareness that passed over him, a pre-emptive nostalgia for being young and in New York. A knowledge that some day all of this will be over.
I understand that feeling. Someday I’m going to look back at this part of my life and remember only fragments. There will be faces that I won’t be able to name, flashing in and out of my memory. It will be the prehistoric, mythical origin of my adulthood. A time spent wandering in an ever-exploding (yet still empty) universe. Someday, my life will coalesce into a normal existence and these things will all escape me. I will miss them.
I especially harbor the feeling that I will miss New York, eventually. That some day I will leave this city for indie films on the West Coast, or travel so much I will never have a permanent home. Someday I will get sick of this city. I know that because I can feel it—just like Frankie could—only this isn’t nostalgia so much as an incipient disgust crawling up my spine. My love will vanish like in that sunny hour when the pristine snow melts and shows the world that it’s always been garbage and dog shit underneath. In time, I will learn to mind the savage poverty breeding hatred below the earth of this place. I will get sick of the rent. Sick of walking under scaffolding and over manholes; sick of crying on crowded commuter transit. Someday I’ll feel like Joan Didion and write my own “Good-bye to All That.”
But not quite yet. Mostly I’m still relatively enamored with this place. More so now, perhaps, than ever.
We moved to Brooklyn in November, and it’s the happiest I’ve been in a little while. I’ve been meaning to write about it, in fact: just general thoughts on our new lives in Bed-Stuy. I want to tell stories for all the stray cats in our neighborhood, for all the shops on Lewis Avenue, and for all the brownstones on our street. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. It’s winter and the community garden is a locked, dead space. The neighborhood remains similarly unexplored. Most of the time, all I know is the icy walk home on dark and empty streets.
Hopefully I’ll be able to drag myself out when it’s warmer, but I’ve come to realize that Bed-Stuy itself is not the place I’m dreaming of exploring. It’s about Bed-Stuy as a time in my life. A time when I swear I’ll make it to my friends’ shows, for once (bridge and tunneling it home was about as glamorous as it sounds). A time when I can actually have people over because it doesn’t take an hour to get to my apartment. A time when I can rebuild a little bit of the crumbling roof that hangs over my life. A time that I’ll miss, one day.