Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Letter to My Midwestern Cohort

Dear Friends,

I am sorry I haven’t written in a long time. Every time I start a letter to you I think about recounting all the boring things I do everyday starting with the mundane task of dragging my ass out of bed, which I do at approximately 9:00 am. I never want to leave my bed because Kyle is I a quiet kind of guy and I only know he loves me by the way he pulls my body closer to his before we have to acknowledge we are both awake. So I cherish this moment as a kind of secret we keep between the two of us--that is before I wrote it in this letter to everyone I know.

When I think about writing you and telling you about my life in New York I throw up a little bit in my mouth and then I get a dull nausea feeling that is sort of like what happens after drinking not-so spoiled spoiled milk. I can envision how pretentious I must sound when I tell you about sitting only a few rows back at lincoln center and watching the san francisco ballet envelope each others bodies, devouring the space with their delicate movements until the air is literally sucked backwards into audiences lungs as they uniformly gasp when one ballerina falls into the floor. There is immediately collective guilt.

I also wonder if you judge my tone when I rattle off the artists I have recently seen, including Yayoi Kusama whom Kyle silently escorted around the gallery in Chelsea. Her hair was burning bright orange and she always dresses in polka dots. People were hoarding around her extending their arms and cell-phone-finger-tips into arching buttresses to see her, if even only through a screen. We cowered in a corner, either to reject this stardom or to feel above it all. Our motives were unclear. Nonetheless we were there to witness.

And these experiences are different from the ones I had with you all not so long ago that were compilations of abandoned buildings and undetermined car trips. Evenings when we took our  joy and pleasure from our perceived secret city status. This conception that the lack of canonized culture rooted beauty in moments of unexpected discoveries. Empty rooftops and the unique vibrations of particular train tracks more suited to flattening pennies then others were kindling for the tumbleweed nature of aimless nights. The abandoned trolley tunnel, the forgotten wax figurines in the messanie of the train station, our favorite valley in our favorite park were enough minutiae to stimulate some thoughtful, and often satisfying, internal evolution.

Here I do not think about porches or barbeques. Here I think about the physical and the act of moving my body through space. The choice to be in one location, and then another. It is a daily practice to master this negotiation. I acknowledge my thigh pushing into the thigh next to me on the subway and I take pleasure in the free warmth and how this pressure absorbs the jerk of the stop and go of the subway train. I imagine licking the poles and rubbing my tongue against the ridges on the top of month until I can taste all the flavors that have come from these people’s food, jobs, and own salty selves. I know this sounds sexual, but it is not, it is simply about the magnitude of bodies here, especially in relation to space. I sit on the subway and I want to trace the bags under each individual's eyes with the pad of my thumb and tell them I don’t live here for Lincoln Center. I don’t live here for Yayoi Kusama.

I am tired of reading about why people love New York and I have despised my entire life those who have preached its superiority over other cities. But today I brushed my hand against and noted the color of the pupils of so many people I will never know and there is pleasure in those moments.

I could tell you about my job, or the nutty people I have encountered, or even my inspirations, but I’d rather tell you that today I crammed my body into a subway and a man stepped on a woman’s toe and she threatened him. Then a man recognized another man and they discussed a readers theatre one was on his way to perform, his nose was exaggerated, and he was stooped with a snow drift for hair. When I went to the bodega one grumpy customer was giving another grumpy customer a hard time and the guy behind the counter chirped in “You need a wife? I have plenty of single customers, I can introduce you!” The man slapped a handful of coins on the counter and walked out with his beer.

So, come visit me and we’ll ride the subway all day to every borough and take notes of all the tiny discoveries we make in someone’s hand gesture or their hushed conversations. Maybe it won’t seem so different from our adventures back home after all, we’ll just be looking for the details in different places.

Thinking of you always,