The sunlight on the waves looked like diamonds. Curvy peaks, unsettled by the tide. A banner flew in the sky advertising alcoholic seltzer and my hands felt weightless. My legs look so pale underneath the water. On the beach, the radio blasted “Saturday in the park / I think it was the Fourth of July.” Salt water puckered on my tongue but your mouth felt so clean and soft.
On the way home, our train car was empty. The sunset made squares of light on the orange seats. I watched a plane flying out of the airport.
Written August 14th, 2015
I’ve wanted to go to the beach all summer but everyone always goes on Saturdays when I work, so today I went by myself. I got the keys to my new apartment yesterday and I should really be moving my things in, but I have two weeks to do it and I think I’m going though an internal change right now – coming out of something or maybe coming into something, I don’t know – I just wanted to write and go to the beach as much as possible before it gets cold. Continue reading “Notes From Rockaway Beach”
The summer after my freshman year of college, I spent six weeks in Bakersfield, California living with my cousin in my grandma’s house.
Every day I would walk downtown to the coffee shop, drink an iced coffee, eat a chicken salad sandwich, and write at a table by the window. One day, I needed some contact solution at the drugstore and thought I should pick it up before I walked back home. I knew the drugstore was somewhere by the train station, but when I got there, I couldn’t find it. I saw a young black man in a red teeshirt standing outside and asked him if he knew where CVS was.
“Yeah,” he started to explain but then cut himself off – “Oh you know, I’m not doing anything – I’ll just walk you there.” No, I said, that’s fine – but he insisted. All summer, I had been followed by men in broad daylight until they gave up or I found some place to duck into like an antique store. But I wanted to be nice to him because he was being nice to me, so I let him walk me to CVS where I bought contact solution, a little annoyed. Continue reading “A Day With A Stranger: Bakersfield”
“Big drops hung on the bushes and just did not fall; the silvery, fluffy toi-toi was limp on its long stalks, and all the marigolds and the pinks in the bungalow gardens were bowed to the earth with wetness. Drenched were the cold fuchsias, round pearls of dew lay on the flat nasturtium leaves. It looked as though the sea had beaten up softly in the darkness, as though one immense wave had come rippling, rippling—how far?” -Katherine Mansfield, “At The Bay”
“She wondered if tomorrow would fill her with so strange a stirring as today. Soon, in a few months, it would be summer and there would be nothing more to come. Summer would be beautiful, but this spring made promise of a greater beauty than summer could fulfill.” – Elizabeth Bowen, “Daffodils”
“It is the only time that I am thankful for being a woman, that time of evening when I draw the curtains, take off my old clothes, and prepare to go out. Minute by minute the excitement grows. I brush my hair under the light and the colors are autumn leaves in the sun. I shadow my eyelids with black stuff and am astonished by the look of mystery it gives to my eyes. I hate being a woman. Vain and shallow and superficial. Tell a woman that you love her and she’ll ask you to write it down so she can show it to her friends. But I am happy at that time of night. I feel tender toward the world, I pet the wallpaper as if it were white rose petals flushed pink at the edges; I pick up my old, tired shoes and they are silver flowers that some man has laid outside my door. I kissed myself in the mirror and ran out of the room, happy and hurried and suitably mad.” – Edna O’Brien, Country Girls
There was some kind of cosmic organization in the world that I couldn’t understand, or maybe it was all ornate disarray and I was just dazed from the heat and the elaborate shop windows. I first wandered upon Elizabeth Street Garden by accident. I had spent a day walking in Soho alone – looking at samples at Sephora and using up an old gift card. I bought a box of loose blood orange tea for the guy I just started seeing (he mentioned liking it once), as well as some cookies at Dean & Deluca for someone’s birthday.
I brought in my pumpernickel bagel and an iced latte, and sat on a rusty white bench. In front of me were stone lions roaring, adjacent to one another. The daffodils clusters looked like fat, yellow human hearts. They were half in bloom, half only bare green stalks standing at an angle, waiting to bloom later this week or next. On one side of the garden was a large tree with pale white buds. It looked like a delicate illustration against a background of dark opal pillars. It became windier as soon as I sat down, and I pulled my hair from my face, squinting against an unclouded sun.
It was about a year later that I set out, with intention, to visit Elizabeth Street Garden again. I was celebrating getting some retail job that didn’t end up working out anyway, and bought myself a smoked trout bagel to celebrate. It was absurdly expensive, but I hadn’t felt so happy and light in such a long time. It was a cloudy day and looked like it was going to storm. I said hello to the stone lions and the European details, then was so distracted on the subway home that I got off on the wrong stop for the first time and walked the long way home in the rain. Everything was so green.
Are you the right man for me? Are you safe? Are you my friend? – Cocteau Twins, “Bluebeard”
I went to the opera with my friend and her mother on a bitter February night a few years ago. I had never been before. I had just moved to New York City three weeks before, leaving behind a whirlwind drunken mess of a reunion with an ex-boyfriend – so much romance and so little clarity. It took me three days to find another pursuit upon moving, but it was easier this time and I wasn’t thinking too much about it. I didn’t have time to go shower after spending the night at his apartment before coming to the Metropolitan Opera Center, so I threw a collared shirt on with my wool slacks, put on some earrings and looked decent, if not a little tired. Continue reading “Bluebeard’s Castle”
The sound of strangers sending nothing to my head. It’s hard to be away from you not because I need your presence and your thoughts; it’s just the beauty of the city I am experiencing alone, and after a while I want to share a bit of it with you and no one else. Right now, the fickle July sunshine of a windy day is making marbled shadows like rippled water on my pages and it’s hard to focus. It’s like every moment the world is trying to pick me up and lift me away. I look at a benevolent breeze moving the leaves in the trees and the pigeons line up to watch me in my solitude.
Heavyhearted plans. Time is moving so slow. It’s everything I wanted, but all the change trips me up, and my gratitude has nowhere to go. I’ve wasted the weeks you’ve been gone because it felt so good to spend a morning drinking iced black coffee alone in my room. I haven’t written that much; I haven’t eaten once before noon. I haven’t cooked or even cleaned. When I don’t have somewhere to go, I take the train and I look out the window at the Williamsburg Bridge, thinking about how my sunburn feels and what it’d feel like if you pressed your fingers onto my skin.
So indulgently carefree, my body spreads out in sleep just like the slow motion videos of a flower in bloom. I suppose my routine is as good as any other one. Last night, I dreamed of my bed sliding away from the window while I slept. I lost grasp of the pillows (squares of sage-colored cotton) like a determined, acrobatic ghost.