I walk down streets littered with memories and associations. The litter blows around the streets. Swirls of memories here and there. I tread through these, newspapers blowing against my face, events from years ago on the front page: Charlie Eats Falafel at Manna After a Sad Night at Metropolitan. There are so many layers of history for me on Grand Street and I peel through them all when walking alone down the street, up the street, headphones on. I get chills, particular moments happening again with just as much force as the first time round, and yet there being the knowledge that those moments are past, gone, things that for whatever reasons you will not experience ever again, save in the form of these pickings at the scabs of nostalgia on lonely walks. Life marches on, short thing that it is. I try to reconcile the desire to hold on as much as possible to these things with the reality of time's forward march. We are going to die. I am. This is the issue we aren't addressing when we scratch at the surface of nostalgia and recall fondly past moments, but this is what we are thinking about by doing so. This is what informs that melancholy in recalling past moments. We are mourning our own future death in these recollections.
The very first apartment I rented in New York was a sublet on Grand and Manhattan. I was there for a month or so, before heading off to another sublet, before finally settling into 424 Grand Street for four years. Those years, I was really broke and I would steal all the time from the Key Food on Grand Street, would buy a few bananas for the pocket change I found around my house while I had my messenger bag stuffed with stolen groceries. Too many nights have been spent walking to Metropolitan from various apartments over these past eleven years, the walk down Grand Street to or from Metropolitan with numerous boys, maybe with a couple of men at some points. There is a restaurant I went to with Jacob. I inhabit all these moments again as I head to Gem True Value in search of a stove-top coffee maker. They apparently no longer carry this item, something I have bought at least twice from this store over the last decade. Their shelves were looking poorly stocked. I can't imagine that Gem's life is going to last much longer and more and more this world I knew eleven years ago disappears.
The Liberty on Grand Street, another massive retail space that I bought super discounted housewares at over the past eleven years in New York, shower curtains every couple months to replace moldy ones, dishwashing soap, mops, stovetop coffee makers - this Liberty is now gone, covered by scaffolding. Some massive and ugly condo complex surely will end up there because this is the march of some idea of economic progress. It's a city tight for space so something is going to get squeezed - the discount homewares stores for instance, along with the population they serve, a population that is being decimated with an unrelenting brutality and speed by the market forces of New York real estate, by rents that become more and more outrageous for anyone not making astronomical incomes.
Yesterday evening, I realized that the Daniela's diner, small, divey thing that I had been to quite a few times, especially in my first few years of New York, was gone. I once had a really awkward first date there over pancakes. I couldn't even place which storefront, which juice bar, was now occupying its former space. Time marches on. Storefronts change and change. Bars close. Some places, thank God, are still there. There is still Gran Morelos on the corner of Graham and Grand, caked in layers and layers of memories, many drunken after-hours spent there sopping up alcohol with their amazing carne enchilada burritos, some of the best, perhaps the best, in the city of New York.
I am so happy in my new apartment. It's a really beautiful and large apartment. It is on the gorgeous street, the gorgeous time capsule of small old houses, that is Powers Street. It is contiguous with these sites of my memories. I am overlapping with moments from these past years in New York each time I walk here or there. I feel at home. I feel alive.
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