Saturday, June 4, 2016

Scenes from a Summer II

On Tuesday night I am leaving Phoenix, a gay bar in the East Village, because of course I am. SJT has just given one of his 'How to Opera' sessions, in which he highlighted some of the operatic points of interest happening around New York this summer. He sipped a greyhound or two or three and rolled up his cranberry-colored shorts to cool off his legs in the back room of the brick-laden bar. Pushing his long sleeves past his elbows in hopes of a similar result on his arms, he nonetheless said "I hate short sleeves," though the fact that it is now very much summer in New York does not seem to phase him. He asks me for feedback on the session though I have trouble issuing it because I could listen to him talk about quantum physics or the many uses of canned tuna and I would still be enthralled, words always elegantly and eloquently floating off his tongue whether they are about opera or about Bob's Burgers. I hope he will teach the class again.

Outside, the air is cool and though it is past 8pm the sun has not yet set and the sky is a blissful lavender hue. I can almost see the sunset down 13th Street, the sun a creamsicle-colored orb slowly descending into the horizon. I contemplate taking the bus uptown, but decide I want to be outside a bit longer and walk to the train. Back near my home, I stop to get a salad and decide I will sit outside and eat it on a stoop. Ultimately I decide my own stoop will be serve just fine, so I continue the journey home. I set myself down on the brick stairs in front of my building and crack into my salad, the soft night air brushing against my face. My roommate comes up the walk not too long after I sit down, smiling and raising an eyebrow at me. "Why are you eating out here?" she asks. "I thought to myself, well, we can't really do this in our apartment and I wanted to eat outside so I just said, 'fuck it,'" I laugh. She smiles back and laughs too, heading inside. Sometimes I forget what weird can look like to other people because I live in New York.

I miss this time of year the rest of the year. Maybe because I stayed inside far too often as a child, or because the nature of living in this city is that you are just exposed to its elements all the time and eventually you are bound to pick your favorites. I love the soft dew of humidity on my face, the kiss of the sun on my shoulders and face, the flutter of sundresses around my knees when I walk on the streets. I love the hum of the fan in my room when I fall asleep, wrapping myself in just one thin sheet as opposed to my usual piles of blankets. I love the coconut smell of the sunscreen I bought and the way sand sticks to my suntan lotion's orange grease gel when I go to the beach. I love the promise of rooftop parties and ocean visits and open windows that allow breezes to float in. At certain times, the city is emptier in the summer and I feel my thoughts flow a little slower, that I have more time to listen to them.

Friday night BK and I meet for dinner in Crown Heights. We go to Glady's on Franklin Avenue, a Caribbean restaurant. The restaurant, done up with glass shutter windows that remind me of homes in South Florida, is across the street from an organic grocery, and I had to walk past a Starbucks and a Citibank to get to it. I remember five years ago when the street was all bodegas blasting dancehall music, plastic lawn chairs for sale in their storefronts, with only the bar Franklin Park plopped at the end on St. John's Place.

Nevertheless, Glady's is delicious. BK and I sit and eat and discuss writing, relationships, the length of his new beard, and when we are going dancing next. We have the jerk chicken and bok choy and plantains and a bowl of curried goat. Never in my life did I think I would have the opportunity to say 'More Goat, Please,' but now I have proven myself wrong. They cap off the meal with complimentary servings of of deliciously cool non-dairy coconut ice cream in tiny metal cups and it's perfect.

I am dismayed to learn later that it is run by hipsters who are from absolutely no form of Caribbean descent and I have mixed thoughts about going back. But I'll be damned if I did not inhale that curried goat, practically licking my fingers until it was gone.

After dinner I head to a rooftop in the Crown Heights historic district. AR throws me down the keys and I let myself in and up the stairs. People sit on lawn chairs and look up at the now-dark sky, the only lights a string of Christmas bulbs they've brought up the line the wall. We migrate back and forth between the roof and our host's apartment, listening to records with his friend D: Grace Jones, Tracy Chapman, Savages, as the three of us sit and bullshit together, talking about how terrible Vangelis is though AR bought one of his albums that day. We slowly become covered in cat hair from the host's hilariously overweight pet, a fluffy white cat named Beans.

Back upstairs we sit and dig into dirt pudding, accented with deliciously mushy Oreos and rubbery gummy worms, treats I do not allow myself to eat too regularly these days. The pudding floats fluffy in my mouth and I take another serving though I definitely don't need it and am almost sure I don't want it, but I am doing my best to hold on to the food memory for posterity. I will doubtlessly need it since I have been subsisting off oatmeal and Lean Cuisines for the last few weeks and in this dirt pudding-ensconced moment I am in food bliss. At 1:30 in the morning, AR, D and I take the train back through Brooklyn. Once they depart at their stop I read Patti Smith's M Train until I get back into Manhattan, the air cool enough that I wrap my arms with the cardigan I've been keeping in my bag for such an occasion.


Saturday I have brunch with DL, a happy treat since I have barely spent any real time with him in many months. At Bar Corvo near the Brooklyn Museum, we dive into a fish sandwich (me) and a foccacia bread pudding (he…though I helped, probably more than I should have…). We walk all over the neighborhood, making our way around and then through Prospect Park and down into Park Slope and then by Barclays Center, chatting about the weirdness and wonderfulness in our current lives. He is older and wiser than I and I value his insights, doing my best to remember them for when I move forward. The sun is hot on our limbs but we press on, listening and overlapping speech naturally and never disrespectfully. Our stories bend and twist and our conversation sparks new topics at every turn, as it always has. By the time we reach Atlantic Terminal, we have walked several miles but, a mark of true friendship, I have barely noticed. Hugs and goodbyes are exchanged and I feel that same tug at my heartstrings when I leave all of my friends, that leftover ache of being an only child and going home to my empty room filled with stuffed animals that won't talk back to me. But as always, I know I will see them again, and with that I descend into the Q train to make my way back to Manhattan.

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