On Thursday, I was riding the subway on my way to galleries to get shitfaced, and on the train, there was this guy sitting across from me, vaguely pathetic looking, but made all the more so by the book he was reading. I can’t remember the exact title now and am having trouble finding it through Google, but the title was something along the lines of “Finding the Love You Deserve.” I was embarrassed for him, that anyone would so publicly read a self-help book, a romantic self-help book no less, but also, I became terribly sad for a moment, realizing (remembering) how terribly lonely so many people are.
This guy, the image of him, keeps coming back to me in odd moments these past few days. Yesterday, I started off my day at Staten Island, went to the thrift store, and had an odd flirtation with a boy there who asked me if a suit jacket he tried on looked good on him. I am often times bad at carrying on flirtations and conversations while sober – well, even while drunk really, but then, in those instances, I perhaps am less aware of my own awkwardness. And after that awkward encounter, sort of hitting myself for being so awkward, I thought to that guy on the subway. I wandered around Staten Island for a while afterward, going to a used book shop, walking down grimy streets under gray skies with a view of the East River. That area of Staten Island right by the ferry is a little rough around the edges, and for that reason, I love it. There are few people on the streets and so it is best there for these wandering thoughts enabled by a physical wandering – the flaneur’s tools, these grungy streets that you can project histories on to.
I have felt like shit all weekend and I don’t really think it is loneliness because I have had the opportunities to hang out with people and have passed them up, have hung out with people and have felt the need to be by myself again, to escape them and their talking. I think the true source of this is not an existential pang brought on by the sight of this man on the subway, but rather by my obscenely large consumption of dairy products over the past few days. Today, I have cut out dairy aside from my cereal and coffee and am feeling slightly better, but for a few days my diet was nothing but fried cheese products washed down with ice cream, and I was feeling the effects, the physical slowing down of all that dairy. I’ve got to try to continue to scale back my dairy intake and eat more greens.
But yes, all week long, I had been planning on going to Atlantic City today, but I lost my motivation, the weather was pretty dreary, and the L wasn’t running, which made the trip to Port Authority seem like too much effort, too much trouble. And even today, at five, I was still telling myself I might go. And some boy, a Matt, called me right then, as I had the timetable in my hand, and this is some boy I met off the Internet but have yet to hang out with, and he wanted me to come to some dinner cruise that he had free tickets to, and this was what I wanted, what I like to read in books, these impulsive meetings with boys, going on a dinner cruise with some boy you have never met, and yet, for some reason, really, I am not sure what the reason could have really been, but I told him that I couldn’t go because I was going to go to Atlantic City, and even then, I think that I knew I wasn’t really going to make it to A.C. this evening.
And there is that man on the subway with his book, and I think that pang he gives me might not be a realization that everybody is so terribly lonely, casting about this life, trying to find someone to cling to, a body to ease the very real fears of death and nonexistence, that instead, the pang he gives me is the feeling that everybody but me is so terribly lonely, that I don’t really have the same sort of feelings and emotional needs as other people, that that disgust I had at seeing him reading that book was at those emotional needs that I find so tiring when I hear them expressed by others. And my regret at not going on this date is not so much that I missed this opportunity to have this perhaps exciting romantic fling, but that I don’t really have the desire for that, and whenever it seems as if I do, more often than not, that is me playing a role, trying to experience this thing that other people want so bad that they read self-help books to aid them, even do so publicly, on subways and such.
This might be my aching body talking, or it might be me, if there is one distinct from the prevailing bodily conditions.