Tag: new york city

Mozart on the tape-recorder

last days of august. and my heart knows it. it’s on a high for what comes next. always reaching for what’s next. haughtily, even.

this morning i was half asleep, watching the road without tenderness. hands on a steering wheel. your closed eyes in the rearview mirror. later, your hand shooting out to hold me close when the car swerved.

last night i was planetary, orbital, insatiable. everything in slow motion, foreign despite its familiarity.

this evening, i was wide awake. watching the moon while walking aimlessly on 61st street after drinks and dumplings, texting you lines from poems, forgetting to look up to see if i was at the right stop.

looking for something protective, firm, resolute; that never came. this feeling reminded me of you. the point is always to be reaching but never arrived, you taught me. and if the void was there yet there existed no words to describe it, perhaps we could make it disappear.

Across a city from you, I’m with you
just as an August night
moony, inlet-warm, seabathed, I watched you sleep,
the scrubbed, sheenless wood of the dressing-table
cluttered with our brushes, books, vials in the moonlight—
or a salt-mist orchard, lying at your side
watching red sunset through the screendoor of the cabin,
G minor Mozart on the tape-recorder,
falling asleep to the music of the sea.
This island of Manhattan is wide enough
for both of us, and narrow:
I can hear your breath tonight, I know how your face
lies upturned, the halflight tracing
your generous, delicate mouth
where grief and laughter sleep together.

the august earthquakes

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.

— Tuck Everlasting

I’ve got a
lot of good
ideas but not
one that
will get me
through
August.

— Eileen Myles

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J. has been posting about August for weeks, and I’m here still going around in circles too. Looking out from the windows at the faults splitting the earth in front of me, riding it out. What is it about this month?

It’s incredible, every single book I pick up by accident discusses at length the following topics: volcanoes, earthquakes, Iceland, love, grief, and/or being alone. (see: The Faraway Nearby, The Importance of Being Iceland, Falling Off The Map, Becoming Wise). So much land to cover, is it thrilling? Exhausting? Both? For both you who keeps reading and for me too. Like Hamilton, I’m definitely writing like I’m running out of time. I wake up before dawn, filled with something inarticulate, that hangover feeling you get after the loss of love.

Maggie Nelson’s Bluets is a whole book of her attempt at writing her way out of it: “Nelson hopes that writing about the bluets will “empty me further of them, so that I might become a better vessel for new blue things.”

And me, over the past three weeks I’ve written maybe over 50 essays about you, Iceland, love, grief, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.; so I might as well keep on towards closing out our book before the month runs out. I always joked that if you don’t want to be written about, don’t date a writer. And I wasn’t lying when I said I’d write my way out of this.

Onwards, then:

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lucky dragon

E. convinced me to try it as we sat in his living room one night, while eating chocolate-covered figs. He retrieved a Swiffer from the crowded broom closet and taught me how to paddle. He sat down next to me on the couch, handed me the Swiffer, and we pretended we were on a boat. I expressed my doubts. He shrugged and suggested that all the guys who do it are really fit and good-looking. The whole situation was comical, and I bought into it. I mean, there were chocolate-covered figs involved. Of course I was tricked!

The next day, he texted me at like 8:23am and asked, “You awake?”

Ugh. So I pulled on my stupid tiny bike shorts and geeky waterproof shoes to trudge downstairs for my first dragon boat practice. We arrived at the World’s Fair Marina, already drenched in sweat. The heat was nearly unbearable, even for me(!) I felt my hair immediately growing lighter, my skin growing darker.

We got on the water. I felt like I couldn’t breathe after every run. But E. was right in the end. All the common suffering buoyed us, and I just reminded myself what he promised (tricked?) me: “Yeah, it seems like you’re doing to die and you won’t make it through the sprint. But TRUST ME it will make you forget all the suffering your heart is going through.”

… yeah. sho’ did. For a hot minute.

***

Before we went out on the water, the very fit and good-looking guy in front of me (that part wasn’t 100% a lie) turned around while the boat was still docked and introduced himself.

“Hi, I’m Jack,” he said.

“Hi, I’m Rose,” I replied.

“Oh man. It’s like… Titanic! We met on a boat together!” he ventured, grinning. Which makes this the first time in history a guy has initiated the cheesy part of the Titanic reference with utter sincerity. “Just promise me you’ll never let go.”

You really can’t make this up, even if you wanted to.

So yeah, um. After that, I paddled the sh*t out of that race, my eyes following his paddle the whole time (I got lectured later about the difference between paddling and rowing).

That evening, my roommate brought home a whole bag of Jamaican sweet currant rolls and asked if I wanted any. I told myself, I deserve this.

And yes, I believe I do. I deserve this life. My heart sure will go on.

You can’t have everything at once. But give me one of each: the sun on my face, the water, a way to paddle to another shore, and the ability to write myself out of any storm.

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