“I wish I could pause time and moments like this without having to think about what’s next.”
Pause. The sun set. We were quiet. It felt like the moment when my friends and I were in Central Park, New York. We’d found a pond with ducks and turtles facing a castle in in the distance. So we sat on the rocks, quiet and contemplative, swimming in our own thoughts.
A blanket of peace descended upon us; I asked them what they were thinking. My friend said moments like this were rare. And maybe we wanted to achieve material success in life so we could buy intangible moments like this. Maybe we strived to make money, lots of it, so maybe we could buy peace, calm and happiness.
But wait–no–that didn’t sound right.
A string of thoughts, in no particular order:
- The mind is the strangest thing. One of my favorite books reminds me that we’re all stuck in our heads, projecting our own distorted notions of reality onto the screen of our minds. It’s all constructed, pieced together by attention, a weird believable 3D fabrication that we call reality. Like Rorshach blots. We see what we choose to see. And the things I see make me panicky. But then I’ll become aware of this, that we’re all making this shit up, and feel calmer at the thought.
- Thoughts are what brought me here: October, February, July–have you ever felt so listless you wanted to die? Moments like that. Sprawled on some surface by a window pouring sunlight and periodic existential crises. Then I’ll just want to watch comedy shows at hotel lobbies in Florida, where I can moan about how much I hate traveling, god, just take me home.
- Even so, I miss New York so much. I couldn’t tell you why. Everyone gets so excited when they visit New York, inundate their social media feeds in it–look, the Empire State of motherfucking dreams. For a moment I thought New York became less sparkly–it’d lost its glitz and glam, become drizzly and cold (stuffed in a cab full of chatty ambitious strangers). Evidently it hasn’t. I miss the wide streets, the energy, the movement, the noise. It’s overwhelming, but remove the source for a while and I start to miss it.
- A stranger in the city with a giant bouquet flowers once told me that we’re all looking for somebody to listen, that strangers just want to be listened to. I believe her. Half a year later I emailed her saying hello, and she said that she sometimes looked for me in the city. Isn’t that odd? To be looked for, even if only briefly? I became so accustomed to searching in the sea of moving faces that it never occurred to me that somebody would ever look for mine.
Toes frozen/lips chapped, we pointed our fingers towards the sky. Amid all the light pollution in Manhattan, New York you could still see the stars.
I counted thirty two.
On a burst on spontaneity we’d bussed to NYC for shits and giggles. By then it was nighttime and we had–cramped and crouched over our cameras–finished watching the sun set. Now we stood across from Manhattan’s beaming glittering skyline in mind-numbing coldness and heart-fuzzing company.
In 30 years, I remarked, this would be what we’d remember: impromptu trips into the city, staring out at the skyline. Silly wild moments and mellow quiet ones, flickers of dialogue that made no sense out-of-context. Soon we’d forget the exams and the stress and the bullshit, but we wouldn’t forget the shnow and spontaneity and the stars–
We had come up with different numbers. We must have miscounted. So we hopped back onto the ice-glazed blocks to count the stars again.
[30 Day Writing Challenge]