I took the train downtown and got off at Twelfth Street. I saw and heard things and felt none of it. I worked at a coffee shop and I moved along and did what they paid me to do and an old man came and stammered his order. When he looked at me, I felt the days he lived. I felt the routine and the doldrums and every painful moment. He sat at the small table in the corner by the window for over an hour, sipping his coffee, looking through the outside to nothing.
Damien, called me telling me to meet them at forty-fourth and eighth. There was a ladies club there they wanted to go to, so I took the one train uptown and met them there. Damien and our friend Jake were already two drinks in, and they had found a forty-something Asian woman and she was playing them as easily as a half-naked woman could play two overly hyped up boys. They were glued to her. Jake was howling laughing the whole night and Damien didn’t take his eyes off of her. In the velvet dirt of the club, the moment hung on, and there was no tomorrow and the elation of booze and sticky skin washed away the rest. Damien had to go to the ATM twice before she convinced him to take her upstairs. Jake and I washed more of the night away. The teasing of the women came cheap and easy and promised much, and just when you think a whole new world is opening up before you, you are stopped at the gate with every rich and lubricated pleasure locked behind the paywall. So we found what love we could from our table and we worshiped the dim light reflecting off their bodies. After forty-five minutes Jake stumbled back to our table and threw his head back and howled. He smiled at nothing. He was finished and wanted to go. I took one more look at my gods for the night, and we paid the tab and left. I shivered from drinking and from the cold. The city never sleeps in Times Square, but here on this dark and quiet sidewalk, all the importance of doing and being dimmed into the black night where all desires end.
To the dust of my body, ten years is nothing. To the consciousness that is the memories in the dust of my brain, ten years will never end—until it does. And then it disappears into my memories for as long as it seemed to exist. And after enough years, you understand that you will be dead soon. And that it will take you forever to get there.
I married her because I loved her. I loved her because I felt good when I was with her. I loved her for what I loved in me. When you are young and find that which you desire, and when that desires you too, the play you have together is wonderful. And that fleeting feeling which exists only in freshness and newness determines all that will be old and habitual. The transient you loved in yourself, that looked like her, shortens back into you. And another bulk of years pass and you become the old and the habitual.
My baby cried for the first time. I saw him come up and out and breathe for the first time. My cells flexed and every hair stood on end. He was beautiful. And he came into this world crying.
Time stretched out slowly and painfully. And it is only when you stop to think about it, that it all becomes a fraction of time.
My daughter cried louder than my son did. She was purple and angry because my wife’s organs wrapped her tightly.
I sat at work at my desk, looking outside at nothing. Over a fleet of cubicles, I could see the tops of the windows of the seventeenth floor. I built websites for my employer’s clients. I spoke with the clients, I designed and developed them, and they paid my boss. During the two hour drive home I listened to books. Books of young men chasing their desires. In books, it all comes so easily. Fortune and love come in a page. The girl for me that I will never meet, is waiting on the bus. She waits for me and when I arrive she finds me and tells me to follow her. I am the protagonist affected by the beauty I read to find.
Scott sent me a text and said he and Damien were getting drinks together. I turned around before the tunnel and found them at their usual place. At five o’clock there are only suits and grey hair in the bar. And at one a.m. life comes back in with unshaven faces and cheap and dirty clothes. The youth own the night, and the bullshit owns the day. Scott read a book and now he does this thing that makes his life better. Damien lost all fire years ago and works out at the gym twice a day to renew his interest in himself. He is cheating on his fat wife with a gym rat. The control between my subconscious and the idiotic habits that run my mouth are gone in front of them, and only remembers it all, to torment me at some random quiet time, when both are working together again. We sat there and drank and talked and drank. I tried to keep the conversation light because no good can come from three tipsy men discussing important things. We solve problems only for us to know. We talk the same way we love.
In a few seconds, I can think from when I was a young boy to now—-now with my grey hair and my savings and social security that was enough only for me to sell our house and live in a small condo. I see my kids every few months. They have kids and I have grandchildren.
When it came for me I felt it. I looked at my wife as my body gave way and I told her that I loved her and that it was my time. If love is the way I feel, then I lied to her. If love is being there and taking care of someone, then I loved her. And even at that final time, I still did not know which one it was. I looked up and past her, out into nothing and closed my eyes. Down one floor and across the hospital, a baby came out into their eternal and exciting new world, screaming.