(Mexican) Food for Thought

No, I promise you this is not turning into a food blog (and because I know several friends of mine actually have food blogs: there is nothing wrong with a food blog, I’d just be very bad at keeping one) but meals are worth mentioning occasionally. Especially since we so often break bread with our friends. Or, in this case, tortillas.

La Esquina: the Corner deli that can’t really be described as a corner deli

I have literally spent the summer living down the street from this place and it always piqued my interest. Problematically, I’ve always been too poor to try it, but hey: in a few days I’ll be back in Jersey and I’ll probably never live around the corner from it again. Carpe diem may as well apply to restaurants if you use it to justify anything at all in your life.

Eating out front. Warning: view contains Agent Smith

Eating out front. Warning: view contains Agent Smith

Agent Smith and the Laurasaur indulged me in my fancy, and we made a fine trio in the outdoor dining area. The evening was deceptively cool: you could almost forget that New York City is, in fact, a circle of Hell in the summer months. And the food itself made a decent excuse to gather.

There’s nothing quite like sharing a meal with friends. I am by no means a food critic, but everyone agreed that the yucca fries were quite palatable. We even broke the final piece into three, so as to limit any guilt one might feel for being the rat bastard who steals the last fry. That said, not all stealing feels wrong. There is no greater pleasure than snatching bites from another’s plate, as long as the said other returns the favor.

Oh, stealing and looting: such are the true hallmarks of friendship. And conversation, I suppose. Speaking a common (metaphorical) tongue is so important. This isn’t limited to, or commonly even delineated by, a shared spoken language but often has to do with gesture and allusion: an entire culture of verbal and non-verbal cues that build context.

How fortunate we are to meet each other, as friends. To share enough cultural context that we may find a halfway point when we talk about dance crazes or after school shows and know what the other actually means. To make running jokes about non-Euclidean geometry and how, because of it, clouds drive us insane.

And it’s almost awe-inspiring to think of the very act of communication it takes just to make an H.P. Lovecraft joke. It isn’t just that we’re forming words, those emissaries that vibrate their way through the air, it’s that on the other side the listener receives the whole idea of the thing—the shape of concept. It’s this that we pass to one another, and not just the words themselves.

This is the true power of language, and it’s not even something that we ever think about when we’re actually communicating with each other. To think: to tell a potty joke you’re using the same means your ancestors did to share ideas across empires—to create the ties to build the empires themselves.

And what goes on between any group of friends is more than a handful of casual words or gestures. Communication is so much more substantial than that: it exists almost tangibly, and it’s comparable the carne and the chile and the mole and the fritas we passed around. The food, the language, the mores and the cultural references: these make our common tongue.

Nocturne

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NoLita in the dark.

My suite mates are apparently having a party or something…which makes me slightly upset that I’ve never dragged people over because I’ve kind of wanted to have a party but I always felt it would be inconvenient.  Yes, I’m stupid and petty.  Regardless, it doesn’t look like I’m sleeping soon. Far too loud. I’m also not social enough to actually go out and talk to anyone: so…

Some thoughts on night in the night. It’s not like my drive towards nocturnal started just now, anyway, even though it’s often hard for me to be productive in the darkness. But nights aren’t really for productivity until it gets so late it’s almost morning. And speaking of that twilight place: how do we define night? In or minds and programmed into our bodies.

Night sometimes means sleep, of course, that crushed velvet sensation of letting your bones lay weary against the earth. Most of us enjoy the feeling of sliding sideways into darkness: the curl of blankets and pillows forming a safe cocoon. I must confess, odd as it may be, that I do miss nights spent awake and on the road. Admittedly I have only ever been a passenger, one who can afford to meditate on the darkness. It’s astonishing how beautiful the world is, blurring by in a string of houses and highway signs, cities and railroad tracks. The “I” of me melts away until all that’s left is just a pair of eyeballs, drinking in the sideways slip of the world outside my window. Those are the nights when I never want to reach my destination. The hum of the road is home enough. At least until dawn, rosy in the east, unmasks the dark silhouettes of the trees, or mountains, or skylines—whatever my companions had been in the evening—and wakes the world until it’s no longer quiet. Until traffic is a scream. The bubble bursts.

After all, nights are the times of dreams: waking or not. It’s when you are close to people, even strangers you’ve only just met. Anyone can become friends right around three am. The world is soft, then. You all share the dream. Any other time those pretty words you so willingly exchange, flitting on their gossamer wings, would be too heavy. Would fall out of the air like dead things.

The nocturne is its own song, and it compels us to our feet. We dance because it’s harder to feel ashamed in the darkness. We dance because we don’t remember our daylight faces.

Not that there isn’t a danger in forgetting: there is no innocent dark, which pains me deeply. I want nothing more than to stalk the streets and learn the city’s moonlit face: unlined and dewy with summer. But I can’t, just out of simple fear. Because I’m not especially intimidating or good at violence. Because darkness shields dangers in the alleyways. And anyway: the world is stifling and warm, and I will not ruin it by seeking confrontation.

Instead, I’ll content myself here in the cocoon of my lamplight, hung sweetly in the summer night.

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