“And when you go around in circles, brother, the world is very big, but if you plow straight ahead it’s small enough.” –Colum McCann, Let The Great World Spin (53)
It is now September, these months flying past, one right after the next, New Year’s seeming like not that long ago. I smell lighter fluid, a barbecue going on somewhere nearby, the end of summer celebrations scattered across backyards, Labor Day cookouts.
Yesterday, I spent the day at Jacob Riis beach, most of my time there bobbing in the water, diving under and under, catching the occasional wave, taking breaks to lie exhausted and winded on the sand underneath the sun. At some point, I made eyes with a guy nearby, and he waved me over to talk to him. I plopped myself down on his blanket next to him. We exchanged names and he rubbed my back, telling me my skin was smooth. Salt water, I said. He was from either Bosnia, or Serbia, or Croatia. I can’t remember which, only remember that it was one of those countries we used to hear a lot about in the nineties, but less so now. He had an accent, long brown hair, and a hairy chest. At some point, he started to kiss my neck, my ears. We started to kiss each other and lied side by side, dry humping. He pulled my dick out of my swimsuit and jerked me off. We were close together, our bodies, no one able to see what was actually happening. I came on his towel. He poured some sand on to the pools of semen. I was done, wanted to move on, felt awkward. I told him I was going to go back in the water and dived underneath a wave, getting wet quick. What people say about band-aids, pulling them right off, same with cold water, you just have to dive in, none of this toe by ankle by leg business.
I stayed in the water for a long time, thinking it might be the last time this summer, this year even, the last time until maybe next year. The sun descended lower and lower in the sky, bleaching out my view of the shoreline from the water, making the ocean glow, white ripples stretched down the horizon, billowing white sparkles, cresting and falling, rising again and again, the movements of the tide, its steadiness and resolve comforting, some hint that perhaps things don’t end, that the wave crashes, the tide recedes back to the ocean, and another wave comes soon after, the cycle endless.
Nick, Diego, and I rode the Q22 from Riis Beach down Rockaway Boulevard to 96th Street because I really wanted to check out Rockaway Taco, which I had often heard about but never actually eaten at, despite my obsessive love of tacos. The place was beautiful. It brought forth memories of a small beach town food shack in Florida or Mexico. These past memories conjured, all pleasant, were laid on top of this little food stand a block away from the beach, surfer kids and hip little Brooklyn kids eating in the backyard of this place serving really yummy fish tacos and fresh juice. It was the perfect cap to the day at the beach, to this last hurrah of summer, the calendar setting aside this weekend, Labor Day, as a way to mark the end of a season, of a mindset, fall starting soon, and with it a saying goodbye to laziness and relaxation, or so I hope.
Fall for the early part of my life meant a return to school and working, and I need it to be that way again this year, not in the literal sense, but in the more figurative sense, meaning that there are changes I need to make in my life, things which I need to recommit myself to and that I need to pursue these things head on, full steam ahead. I need to take seriously this habit of writing, need to do it daily now that it is fall. I need to look for a new job, since my current one, as pleasant and easy as it is, is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.
I am getting old. Within a year, I will be 30, an adult age (even more of one, an incontestable one at least), at which I would like to not be doing the same thing. My job now requires me to be at work at seven am each day, which is too early. I am capable of doing it and have been doing so for months, but there are costs associated with it that I am becoming more and more aware of and which I think I am not necessarily willing to pay for much longer. I am missing out on nightlife, which doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it used to. I no longer desire to go out every night and chase open bars and dick and wait half an hour to catch the subway at four something in the morning. But there are nights where I do want to go out and dance and not be so tired because of my sleep schedule. But more than that, I am missing out on those wild curlicues of thought a tired mind will create, the flashes of thought that come to you in late night hours and the ability to write those down. I don’t know. I do know though that I want to change some of my habits this fall and to commit myself to producing things and to changing my employment situation to something slightly more desirable.
And so when I read that line about how the world is a large thing if you are constantly going around in circles, something about it really struck home to me and my current concerns. A story from last week to further illustrate where my mind is at these days:
I was riding on the subway to work, it about 6:50 am on the L train, me seated at the end of a car. I felt something on my leg all of a sudden while I was reading and I freaked out and went to brush it off, wondering what the hell was on my leg. I saw that it was a huge, bright green grasshopper. I was drawn out of my tired mode and thrown into some panicky-there’s-a-big-bug-on-me mode. I pushed it off my leg and it fell to the floor where it rested by the door. What was this grasshopper doing on the subway? How did it get here? Where are there even grasshoppers this big in New York? I was aware that this bug was probably going to die because it had somehow ended up on the subway. I began to think about my own life and draw parallels (perhaps overwrought ones) between myself and this grasshopper, that neither of us should be on this subway right now, that we were both going to die because of it. The bug belonged elsewhere and so did I. Something is being smothered. I had to rescue this bug. If this bug died, I was going to die. I had begun to tie my fate to his and if I could rescue this little creature, then through some turn of karma, I too would be rescued from my situation. I scooped it up in my hands, closing my fists over it. I could feel it bumping against my fingers, trying to squirm its way out. I walked up the stairs at 8th Avenue, and went down a block to Jackson Square Park where I set it loose into a bunch of flowers, hoping for the best for this thing. I then walked to work, a few minutes late.
I need to plow straight on through, make this world small. Goodbye, summer.