I wandered the Lower East Side with Megan in search of galleries only for us to realize and remember that almost all are closed because it’s the end of August and a Tuesday. Does the cooling of the air bring about the change of attitude, or do collective emotions have the power to dispose of the heat? Coolness is not always related to sadness, as much as it wants to be, as much as I want it to be. This air has its own neutrality, balancing a breeze and the occasional heat of the sun freed from overcast patches.
It was Megan’s birthday. Virgo season is solidly here. We got happy hour frozen margaritas at San Loco, cactus-pear flavored, talking about Eileen Myles and Anne Carson as we drink our drinks, then ordered seconds and take shots. “Let’s get drunk,” I found myself saying. Glass shades of different shapes and colors hang over the counter with the register. Various other couplings of customers seem to appear and disappear, sometimes leaving us alone, with the exception of a kid occupying the corner booth, drinking an orange soda and writing out letters with glittering slime, presumably a descendant of one of the bartenders working the register. I’m reminded of my mornings accompanying my mom to her kindergarten class, or of joining my dad at his auto-shop, looking at the looming blue coveralls hanging in his office in the grey morning light, or of when my coworker Liz brought her son King to work and he sat at one of the stools and played on his Nintendo DS for about five hours.
After leaving the bar I cried out to Megan a hope that I would find a postcard. (I didn’t.) Sometimes I fall into these periods, for several days to a week or more, where my dreams are so demanding mentally that I wake exhausted, for no apparent reason until I finally remind myself or am reminded somehow of the elaborate detailing of my sleep the previous night. Not all dreams are equally crafted. Obviously, some are much more vivid than others, requiring much more attention as you sleep. Unfortunately, sometimes those are the ones you remember the least. It makes remembering that I had a dream about looking the slippers all the more pathetic.
The past couple of nights I’ve been dreaming about kissing, I know, because the feeling lingers throughout the day, much in the way that a normal bout of someone else’s face leaves strong emotional traces, but I’ve also been dreaming about my grandmother, my dad’s mom. Scents of hers have been presenting themselves, the solution I bought to clean the floors, a whiff of perfume on the subway. I bought cheap plastic containers outside of the subway with simplistic flower-diamonds which remind me of her living room. James and I ate orange creamsicles, prompting Megan to reminisce on banana-pops, which James and I discover we both only had at our grandmothers’ houses, along with the Scooby-Doo push-pops. The fact that I received a card from this same grandma today may or may not be related to all of this. I sent her a postcard last week. I want to send her another. I bought nice tall glasses in the Lower East Side with some of the money she sent me, the money she never lets me refuse in person. That refusal is the only time I will see her get stern with me. I didn’t find a postcard. I need one.
Megan and I have aspirations of moving to the Lower East Side. Contemplating, she remarked, “But if we stay in the apartment for two years, we’ll be 25 when we leave.” A horrifying thought. When I left Oakland I told myself I wouldn’t consider moving (out of New York) again until I was 25. How do you determine whether an amount of time is too long or too short? When Megan mentioned this again to James on the rooftop while we ate our birthday feast in the nighttime air by candlelight, James cackled in shock. On Friday they’ll be moving back to Long Island for the last semester of their undergrad. It’s still hard for me to fathom. The summer is coming to a close and I still haven’t accepted that I’ve been back in New York for an entire season. It’s somehow felt much longer and shorter than that. But I’m coming to realize any moment can be stretched taut; many moments can pile on top of another. The last time I ate on a roof with Megan was in 2018, at my apartment in Crown Heights, as we drank gin and tonics and ate fried rice, watching a gold-pink sunset.
Tonight, James, Megan, and I fought to swiftly light birthday candles around the perimeter of Megan’s birthday cake. I pleaded to run downstairs to get my camera, the glow from the circle was so nice. In the stairwell, I heard James howl. On my return, they informed me the wind had won, blowing out every flame. Together, we lit them again. As James finished the last ones, I poised my camera, singing happy birthday. I took pictures, the circle lit once more before finally, Megan extinguished them herself.