September 26, 2010

hope that something pure can last

If you are ever unsure about your own purpose in existence just take a look through the spectrum of modern art to reassure you that even well-respected and talented individuals of varying degrees of mental stability/brilliance made a career out of not knowing either.

New York is a great and terrible city to spend a day by yourself. I decided to spend the day with modern art, seeking either abstract counsel or else some strike of inspiration. The MoMa has about 6 floors of potential material. It only took me about 45 minutes through the lot of it. I remembered that modern art just doesn't speak to me anymore. Maybe I was beneath it and it didn't want to be seen associating with me. I never understood it and never really made the effort to and maybe modern art kind of resented me for that. I guess I don't blame it.
So I didn't take away much from my museum day, needless to say. The whole thing felt just too cool for school. And maybe I'm not 100% on my existentials, but I do know my stance on being too cool for school.
The last thing I need or want is to be further alienated when I'm by myself. Even though you're never quite by yourself in this city. Even when you feel like you are.

But still. Maybe the last bastion of mystery in this city that keeps me alert and amused might just be the fact that it's teeming with beautiful strangers. They're your next door neighbors, your future spouse or possibly the next heart you break. They're in line with you at the grocery store, they're who you are thrust into when the L train is too crowded (which is always) for you to grab hold of support and it lurches unexpectedly. They take your orders and serve you your morning coffee.

B and I took lunch at a new bistro that opened a few blocks from our apartment. The tall, handsome waiter in skinny jeans and a loose crew neck t-shirt with an enigmatic British accent was probably the most redeeming aspect of the experience. We exchanged raised eyebrows as she silently mouthed, "Oh my GOD" to me. I nodded with a sly smirk and glanced over, catching him mid-stare.
The charming warped wooden bar stools and tin ceiling and deco-inspired details made a lovely palate for sunlight to wash upon. It was pretty evident that a lot of money was put into making this place look as authentically time-warped as would please Lana Turner or Kathrine Hepburn. A mildly bland egg breakfast sandwich reminded me that there isn't much of anything within 100 miles of here that's more beautiful than how much you're paying for it. Not the gastronomy, not the art, not the locals, and certainly not the real estate.

But sometimes (and always when you're least prepared for it), you will find the kind of beauty that steals your nerve so that you must snatch it back quick as you can in disarray. You find it in the handsome waiter. You find it every time you wake up to text messages from friends. When you get to the platform and the train is just arriving, when your favorite song plays right when you want to hear it. Exchanging smiles with a stranger, and then thinking twice about it.

It wipes the sleep from your eyes and boxes you on the ears, and in the recesses of that lingering ringing you are really paying attention now because all that's left is the realization of what you probably always knew to be true, but the stakes were too present to let it be before. Those very small gestures are the only things distracting you from the cushion of false sentiments you've been nesting in.

It is the truth that this is not enough and it never has been. This, the unfulfilled anticipation and the starting line that taunts the horizon, the threadbare strings dangling between your heart and your head that could snap (and probably should) at the slightest tug. And you thank whatever errant flint blindsided you with the spark that burned along those strings until they were ash because when it reached its destination, you knew. You knew that you deserve more goddammit. You deserve to follow through on every affectionate notion you've had towards another human being, and you deserve to have it not only acknowledged but returned to you. You deserve everything you were too afraid to say and every move you didn't make and more than that-- every one that you did. Or at the very least, when all is said and done, you deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye.

A long walk home after midnight that yields no friendly faces, no modern art (thankfully), and no more than a quick brush of an embrace that makes you regret coming out in the first place, brings you to your own bed with its familiar smells and the sound of car horns in the night and fading laughter filtered through greasy streetlamps. You're tired and you give in to it with the kind of eagerness that reminds you why sometimes sleeping alone is better than waking up next to any attractive stranger. Your lurid dreams won't stick after tonight, and when you are awoken by rude morning light and in an even ruder temperament, you can appreciate waking up by yourself. Just like any other morning from before, when you were still snugly convinced that this wasn't going to be another grand disappointment.

None of that really matters now though, which is the sad truth and terrible beauty of it. It doesn't matter because now you are set free from that stale obligation that you thought you needed. You can do better than this. You should be better than this. And now you know.

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