It took a couple of years and there were times when I felt as if it were but then wavered and backtracked and couldn't make the commitment yet, did not feel as if this were home, but yesterday when I got off the bus on 40th Street and 7th Avenue after five hours in traffic, I breathed out thinking Home, it is so nice to be home. And there were tons of people on the street, people smoking, traffic, indistinguishable, unexstinguishable noises and I was so happy for all of it. I was smiling ear to ear, someone asked me for directions, another passenger from the bus and I was so friendly, so glad to be back in New York.
But maybe that is a sign that this is still not home, that you don't get giddy when you get home, that you are comfortable and are comfortable doing nothing. So I don't know what this place is, more like a lover, a crush in the early stages. I get so excited by it, every aspect of it. I was proclaiming my love for everything I passed last night. Hot dog vendor, I love you. Dirty streets, I love you. Fashionable and unfashionable people, I love you. Subway, I love you. Underdeveloped section of Keap Street I walk down everyday to and from the subway, I love you. Cashiers at Key Food, I love you.
I went to my old house, what I used to consider home, Northern Virginia and it felt like a place I didn't know. The people, the culture, the slow Metro - it was all alien. Things I had known and perhaps embellished with the soft glow that nostalgic memories will give to things from your past, especially your childhood. But there, I knew that that was not home, that home was the place I had left, the place I was going to return to soon.
Part of this probably had to do with the fact that I know that my mom is only going to be living there for a few months and then the physical ties to the place will be totally severed. Also, her fiancé, Kent was there and he is nice but it was hard to talk to him, and that altered the place also. The day after I got there, we rode down to Williamsburg, my mom, Kent, and I. And there wasn't much talking on the car ride down. I read my book in the backseat. The two of them talked and I occasionally asked about songs on the radio, if either of them knew who sang the specific pop songs that were new to me.
Williamsburg (the Virginia one) was interesting because it led me to evaluate different communities and their own cultures, how notions of cool are so specific to a place and while I can be confident in Brooklyn, do not worry that other people think I am a loser, here in Williamsburg, it was a time warp with so many people in khaki shorts and oversized dress shirts. People do not wear shorts in New York, really, is something that I thought about there. Of course, it has not been real warm, but even in the summer, many people don't wear shorts. But anyway, if I had run into one of these boys on the street here, I would have thought tourist or tool, and thought not much of them, but there in Williamsburg, it was that Virginia style that dominated and I was the tourist or tool walking past them. I got a couple of weird stares that had I gotten in New York, I might have ascribed to cruising, but there, I knew what it meant, it meant, What are you wearing?. I was dressed fairly foppish in tight jeans, a tight pink dress shirt, and an even tighter blazer that used to belong to Jaymay, if that gives you an idea of how tight it was.
But the thing that fascinated me the most about these regional conceptions of coolness was how placed in this other conception of cool, I was no longer so confident in my own appearance, that I began to doubt myself. But stranger to me was my desire for these boys in their flip-flops and khaki shorts. Most of them were not even that attractive but in this repressive setting, surely because of the repressiveness of the culture, I desired, coveted these embodiments of cool. Will I always desire what is cool and sexy in any culture I am in, regardless of what it is that qualifies them as such? Is it the coolness or the cockiness these subjects have? Does one inspire the other? Do they have that stiffened neck of entitlement, that cocksureness because they are cool; or is it that they are perceived to be cool because of the confidence they possess? I am more and more convinced that it is that later, that confidence is what makes one attractive, desirable, cool. Anna’s advice to Seth Coen that enabled him to become cool: “Confidence, Coen. Confidence. “
I am convinced also, and some of you are probably able to guess this already given my tendency to eroticize humiliation, that a large part of my desire for these boys was a reliving of how desire worked me for in high school, desiring straight boys who I could never have. More reason, I am glad to be back in New York. This town has sexually liberated me from all those harmful rubrics of erotics that I had operated under in other towns, in towns where there was not a gay culture, and where I foolishly tried to operate under the mainstream one, desired those same objects that straight culture deemed attractive.
But God, the sight of those Virginia boys in shorts and flip flops, you don’t know the desire it inspires, a desire that because it could never be expressed is all the more consuming.
And really, I don’t know how or why I have ended up talking so much about such a small part of my weekend, surely it is because it is springtime, the sun is shining brightly outside my window, and I am horny. There was so much other stuff I thought about this weekend, that if I am ever to get outside in this beautiful spring weather at all today, I am not going to be able to talk about in depth. But whenever you go home, all these issues that are not thought about otherwise, or thought about only in the briefest of thoughts are given so much time there. I thought about life a lot, in the sense of what I am, and what I want to be doing with it. This of course, inspired by the insecurity and jealousy of watching my younger sister graduate from a good college and leaving shortly for Indonesia to do a Fullbright program. I thought a lot about family, my family, and why it is everyone is so quiet, why no one talks loudly or brazenly among each other. I thought about my own patterns of affection and how they were shaped by observing the lack of affection between my mom and dad, and now watching my mom a little insecure about expressing affection for Kent in front of Jamie and I, as if you should be secretive about your desires. I thought a lot about geography and want to read about psychogeography. I thought about W.G. Sebald in relation to this because I saw Umberto Eco’s new book and everyone in the world is trying to be hip and incorporate imagery in their novels now and all I can think of is No, Sebald did this – you can’t do it better. Copying Sebald’s technique does not put you on par with Sebald. This applies to you, too, Eggers and Safran Foer.
My batteries died on the bus ride home and I couldn’t listen to music so I read a lot, looked out the windows a lot, and thought about all these various things, these and thoughts of telephone poles, airport tarmacs, road surfaces, and skies, and the distances between places of my life and how easily and cheaply they are traversed. What I mean by cheaply is thirty dollars roundtrip.
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