Oh, Cafe Bustelo, I found myself back in your arms this morning when I was at Key Food with a thing of cold salmon pressing against my groin hidden underneath the waist of my pants, the waste of my pants. Even though I have a thing of pricey Illy coffee in my fridge and it smells really good when it is made and tastes good, it doesn't give me that same buzz of cheap, dark coffee and so I picked up a giant yellow can for two dollars and fifty cents and just downed a cup of it and can feel it. Bustelo clears my bowels within about twenty minutes of drinking it, and I also like that effect it has - it makes me buzzed and feeling clear, light and ready to conquer the world or at least whatever book it is I am about to finish - in this case Paul Auster's The Book of Illusions, which I tried finishing last night but was unable to do so before sleep got the better of me - but this morning, with the help of Bustelo, I plowed my way to the end of it, eager to start Philip Roth's The Anatomy Lesson, which I bought for one ninety nine, plus tax, of course, at Junk on North Ninth last night.
Paul Auster was better than I thought he would be, and now he is crossed off my list of authors oft mentioned who I have yet to read. And now, I am back to that spicy pork burrito of books, Philip Roth, of whom I have read many books but who I love and so I return to again and again, never disapointed.
Yesterday, I did a lot, walked a lot - and yet most of the things that I could list as having done don't compare to the things that are harder to list as things done, just walking in the early afternoon across 125th Street, exploring Harlem and feeling like I wanted to cry out of happiness and shake people to see if they felt what I was feeling. It was beautiful there because it wasn't the Lower East Side or Williamsburg and I realized, or re-realized how segregated New York is, how the two neighborhoods I hang out in are pretty exclusively white, at least as far as nightlife goes - and there was something amazing about walking down 125th, remembering working in Eastern Market in DC and all the various cultures that manifests themselves in black neighborhoods - all the Afrocentric stores, the Nation of Islam people standing on street corners looking mildly scary. There were so many vendors out yesterday selling black nationalist videos, selling bootleg DVDs, selling shea butter and the weather was so amazing yesterday and the pleasures of being a flaneur and passing through these scenes is something that thrills me more than most other pleasures, than most of the other things I did yesterday. Just walking around, observing, talking to people passing out Jesus brochures, that this sated me more than going out to bars, than walking around Greenpoint back and forth eight hundred times. I bought two CDs for five dollars - the Kanye West and Lil' Kim ones.
On a corner there was a female preacher giving a pretty inspiring talk, at least the snatch of it I caught while passing her was inspiring and it was meant for me - it is so amazing that there are these sentiments everywhere in books, in songs, on street corners, and sometimes you will encounter these things at the most perfect time, when they seem like the perfect verbalization of inchoate thoughts you are nearing. This woman said something to the effect of, "Every day that you leave your house and come back to it at night is a good day. That is a day to thank God for, to be grateful for. Every day you are alive is a gift, something that is not owed to you. No day is promised to us." And that is not even close to the phrase she used, but it was something to that effect, albeit stated far more eloquently, and it had such a profound effect on me because I was already so happy to be alive and the sentiment was made more explicit by her, given shape - that each day is one to be thankful for, that it is a miracle to experience this gift, something we are all incredibly lucky for, but which we sometimes forget how lucky a thing it is until someone close to us dies, that how wonderful and fragile a thing it is should always be at the forefront our our minds.
I sort of lost that insight during the rest of my day - that sentiment, such a heightened one is so hard to sustain, but it is something I am working on, and trying to be able to sustain that level of gratitude. I might have lost it in the basement that is Greg's apartment, away from the sky, watching Live Forever, a documentary about the new Britpop movement. But I think I really might have lost it somewhere between Greenpoint and Williamsburg, walking my bicycle back and forth, back and forth. Or maybe I lost it by ending my night at Metropolitan, a place I go to too often, that it has become routine, I am not sure. I quickly regained that thrill when I saw my crush Christopher. I also saw Matt as I was walking home from the bar in a white belt and I rolled my eyes and realized that there are things I need to do which I am not doing, and the things which I have for whatever stupid reasons been expecting to provide me with happiness, are probably the least able to provide that thing it is which I desire, and so much of it is to be found out on the streets under this bright sun and these gorgeous blue skies.