1. I spent most of the day on the train from Boston – writing poems and thinking of how to undo the mess. I still haven’t found the answer. My uncle takes me to the Met for the first time – so much art and so much time forever onward. Upstairs modern art canvases, big plain swatches of bright color. I want to stare for hours get lost in blues and greens, but it’s closing time so we get dinner and go back to the apartment. Beneath the red light and behind curtains of the same color, I blow up the air mattress but I don’t fall asleep for hours.
2. I’m supposed to make breakfast but they shut the water off. Left to my own devices, I go to Union Square and duck in and out of stores all day, no one to keep me company. Bitter wind skims off the pavement. I can’t even open my eyes long enough to see the faces in the park. Tuesday, when I came home early after cheap dinner and felt guilty for not doing more. I tried to get ice cream - one whole hour just to circle a few streets. I realized – the only day we’ve gone without speaking in over a year. It feels so good. Maybe it’s cheating if you reach out and I just don’t respond. But the wound bleeds every time I open it, and just once I want to give it time to heal.
3. The long morning where we talk about silence from people we used to love. Except it’s not sad – I couldn’t be happier. You’re not joining the army and I’m not staying in West Virginia. I make hardboiled eggs before going to Chelsea. I spend hours alone in a museum but this time I don’t hear the music. I overhear conversations and write them down for safekeeping. Better than words getting lost forever. We get pizza and ice cream and talk about the past. Dad’s in the hospital – has been for a week, no one told me. Suddenly the ice cream is sour instead of sweet. Later I hear his voice and he sounds okay. We make plans for the weekend. I break the silence after one day. Nothing’s changed – it’s worse now. Whatever – we don’t have to talk. I get wine drunk in a basement and laugh because everything is so absurd. We get dumplings and I ride the wrong subway back, the one that makes too many stops. I’m still trying to figure out the balance between avoidance and acceptance. One day I’ll get there. I feel like I’ve been dipped in boiling water, skinned and left raw. Tomorrow I’m going home and there’s not enough time. For what I’m not sure – ever since I stopped wearing the watch on my wrist it feels like the world is moving so fast I can’t notice, an illusion of stillness. I shouldn’t have sent that last text – I always say too much at the end. Always teaching myself to trip over my own words.
4. Mornings have become slow and still here. I never used to linger like this, but maybe it’s a blessing. Now I can take things in. Old haunts in a city where part of me grew up. I make grocery lists for the people I love. Maybe there’s a better way to care for someone – but I like narrow aisles and neon lights and people getting what they want. If I’m alone I can do anything I want. Walk to Central Park and sit in the sun. Or look at old books. So much time looking and not reading – does it matter if I never see the words inside? I wish I was a ***** fish living in the gutters. I’d swim and swim until I lost my eyes. I miss the simple landscapes of being home. But I’ll be back soon. Trains like bookends. Movement like blinking. Before I leave my uncle asks what I learned and I say “that I’m capable.” He doesn’t ask of what – I don’t have an answer. It’s like I used to say – roll with the punches, or with the trains, or just roll home.