Days Like Today
I want to talk about days like today.
Days when winter breaks and you can go outside unencumbered by your gigantic coat and hat and heavy bag and walk down the street with nothing in your hands and be free. And you could probably walk forever because you are so light, and so happy to be alive, and the wind's in your hair and it feels good and nothing else matters. And the city is quiet and your head is quiet with no sounds in your ears except for these words that need to escape and go somewhere, because not every day is a day like today.
You're not a writer and you're not an artist but what does all that even matter? You're here all the same.
You start in Chelsea and head downtown, and you pass through Greenwich Village and are amazed and appalled by how different it is. A lot of what you loved is gone; but there are new things, so many new things. It is wonderful and overwhelming and stimulating and heartbreaking. This was your place but it isn't anymore -- it belongs to the young and the new -- and you aren't those anymore. You realize you never belonged in this city, and you never could unless you were immortal because it is living and it is changing and it is pushing everyone out, little by little.
It is phenomenal and fantastic and much bigger than you, but it hurts all the same, all the things that were, but now, aren't. It is explosive joy and crushing sadness and ecstatic loneliness all at once.
You wish that you could just walk forever and never sleep and go everywhere and spend all your money and then just die and it would've been a very good life, to try to know New York City. It would be worth it.
And you have to type all this on your phone while riding the train because you'll forget it otherwise, and someone is looking over your shoulder, and you type that so they know that you know.
You stop for something to drink in the Swedish coffee shop -- not a coffee, but it doesn't matter. And the barista who is probably 20 years old asks your name as you're leaving. On days like today, not entirely because of that stranger but because of other reasons, too, you finally start to believe, at the age of 29, that maybe you are someone worth looking at. Because maybe you're finally figuring it out: how to dress yourself and what shoes to wear and how to do your hair and all that stuff that doesn't matter. It's taken a long time, and even though you can't belong in this city -- this city will never love you back -- at least someone there saw you, and wondered your name, and that's progress.
You may not belong in this city, but that's because no one does, and you certainly don't belong anywhere else.
There are days like today when you are thrilled to be alive, and thrilled to be alone, and thrilled to be empty-handed.
You're not too hot and you're not too cold and your legs work just fine and you can walk forever and look into the windows of all of the bars and all of the restaurants and see all of the people that you wish you wanted to be, but don't. And you see the couples and the giggling girls and the people you are supposed to envy and you almost feel sorry for them. You wonder if they'll ever know. You didn't know, not for a long time.
But now you know; most of all, on days like today, you know.