Thursday, April 19, 2007

Then We Came to the End

Clothes, stinky from working out and dirty from being on my knees, and sheets, stained with bodily fluids of myself and others, are now spinning in the washing machine at the laundromat a block away from my house. Walking there, the sky was gray but there were green buds on trees, some trees even with little leaves starting to sprout, and I knew, and still know, that things are going to be so beautiful in these upcoming days and weeks, that there is so much to look forward to, not even considering all the great stuff now. Yes, these buds hint at future, great things, but also are something lovely in and of themselves and not just for what they portend.

The man who runs the laundromat still remembers my name from that time I lost my jeans there and said hi to me by name today and asked how I was doing, doing so in the most neighborly way, making me feel at ease, home. His recognizing me means more to me than any desired crush remembering my name the second time I run into them somewhere, so much more. I left the laundromat and thought about how easy this is, doing laundry at the laundromat, how common it has become, how different the experience now is from when I first moved here to this city, to New York, nearly four years ago. At that point in time, doing laundry was something fraught with so much emotion, perhaps more so than any other activity I had to do then - that to do laundry at a place not in my house, not in my dorm complex, but at a laundromat a couple blocks away, signified to me in a major way that I was living a new life, that I was alone in this city using shared washing machines, putting quarters in, waiting in places that despite being brightly lit always seemed to have some grungy aspect to them, and it was time alone to really ponder what that action meant, what all those actions meant, that it all meant that I was an adult, living my own life on my own in a city I barely knew, and here was one of the responsibilities involved with that, doing laundry at the laundromat.

The activity no longer possesses that same sense of giddiness, of feeling in some ways adult and free, but instead has just become another activity, an almost thoughtless act done every two weeks or so. After exchanging hellos with the owner and leaving the laundromat, thinking about how nice that it is when people are friendly and acknowledge you with how are yous, I got a brief flash of those past experiences, thinking of how long it took me to become friendly and recognizable to the people at the laundromat, and got giddy again, recalling that, and thinking about what it is I am doing, where I am living, and the approach of spring.

I finished reading Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End, which was a good book, though perhaps mostly for managing to talk in the plural first person, using "we" throughout the novel and having the collective office workers talk in that voice. I am not sure it is the amazing book some reviews have been hyping it as, but it was an enjoyable read that in its muted way tackled pretty important questions, pertinent ones, about what it means to work in a job you don't particularly care about and the relationships that form in those environments. Emerson looms over the novel as the perhaps foolish prophet, but more so as how we have failed to live, in what major ways we have fallen short. The proof of this, how distant his message is, is demonstrated very comically by the psychotic loose cannon of an office worker being the one to quote him constantly. Today, I have started this particular book and so far, I love it so much. It is just what I want to be reading right now, this memoir of sexual obsession. It is inspiring me in many ways, good ways I believe, and perhaps you will see the fruits of that inspiration sometime, either words on a page or my dick in your hands.

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