Last night I saw New York, the city that never sleeps, in its post-apocalyptic form.
Times Square, by far the worst place in the city, showed me her bare beauty. Constantly lined with delirious tourists, unrelenting requests, and breath-shortening claustrophobia, only a pandemic could expose its charm.
These past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions. One minute, heart-pounding fear. The next, excitement to see the zombie apocalypse.
Through it all, I’ve uncovered my crippling trait: My fear of uncertainty.
The last twelve months of my life have been a fairy tale. A fucking fairy tale. From traveling to summer to my new life in New York City, every incoming opportunity has mapped itself out for me to follow, do the work I know I’m capable of and foresee upcoming opportunities.
Now, suddenly, it’s all in jeopardy. And the uncertainty has exposed weaknesses in what I’ve thought was an unflappable character.
“I’m staying in New York!” Followed by thirty seconds of my stomach sinking. Will I have access to food, transportation, or human interaction?
“No, I need to go to Vermont.” Then ten minutes dreading abandoning the city I’ve fallen in love with.
Through that uncertainty, the possible scenarios of the next several months, have played through on repeat, paralyzing my mind to ponder anything but our impending doom.
But then, I found pure presence in the unlikeliest place. If the hub of hustle, fuss, and scum can show me serenity, then I can find it within myself.
We’re in for a fucking ride.
We don’t know the consequences. We don’t know the tragedies, the heartbreak, the blessings-in-disguise ahead of us.
Perhaps all we can do is find the calm in our brain’s overcrowded streets, to embrace the uncertainty amidst this tumultuous time.
Friends, let’s ride.
Being back in my hometown has me thinking a lot about seesaws.
But not riding them with a friend, for their intended use.
No no no. I mean when one friend sits on one side, and the other friend jumps on the other, attempting to catapult the first friend.
Of course, the first friend would zoom up and the seesaw would plunk the ground, far from airborne. Too much physics for us elementary schoolers. Still too much physics for me.
Today, my brain is like the seesaw, my thoughts like two kids trying to catapult each other back and forth.
On one side of the seesaw is gratitude. I’m grateful to be home, healthy, with my woods to roam and my dog to cherish at a time where millions live in turmoil. I’m grateful my family is safe, still dealing with only the daily stresses of work and life.
On the other side is anger. I’m angry the semester has been canceled. I’m heartbroken for spring sport athletes, for seniors, for my friends’ hockey playoffs cut short before their ultimate goal, coming to terms with never knowing the outcome of the final game.
The seesaw isn’t just catapulting around these feelings, it’s also attempting to integrate the two sides of me, to meet in the its steady middle.
In my brain’s seesaw, there’s that one kid who tries to balance it, to start on one side and hustle across as fast as possible while keeping it balanced. I’m that kid, hustling from my new life back to my old one.
I’ve struggled to reintegrate who I’ve become—a well-dressed subway-riding adopted New Yorker—with who I was—a maple syrup guzzling Vermonter.
I’ve slipped out of my jeans and jacket and back into sweats and joggers.
And I only connect to the life which now feels so distant through the ten-digit Zoom ID’s and my memories.
Every scenic Vermont walk, every cozy comfort of home, every speck of snow still on the ground pulls me back to who I used to be, while my connection to many I care deeply about remains trapped by a screen.
Or, maybe I’m overthinking it. I’ll just meet in the middle, and throw on a cool jacket.
Thoughts need space.
Space needs thoughts.
The kitchen salivates the thought of food.
The bedroom yawns the thought of sleep.
The closed coffee shop [used to] spur torrent thought, tornados of creativity.
Now, the thoughts extend like ghosts,
Trapped within four walls.
As you sit at your makeshift desk,
Yesterday’s thoughts itch at a repetitive mind,
Caught clicking back and skipping forward like a scratched CD.
The brain buzzes like a hesitant squirrel caught crossing a suburban road.
Your thoughts diffuse like the smoke of a stranger’s cigarette,
craving freedom, relocation, high ceilings to roam.
Your nostrils shudder as your inhale stutters.
It accumulates, enclosed by space. Cough usher panic.
The boxed-room fills.
Second-hand smoke slowly disintegrates your lungs.
Like a virus.
Those spaces which once housed high ceilings,
the space for thoughts to roam,
to diffuse into space,
choke on nothing.
Like a swordfish washed ashore. Gasping for water to splash its gills.
June 1, 2020
Out of It
For a guy with a lot of words. I don’t have many right now.
I grew up wealthy.
For christ’s sake, I grew up PLAYING A SPORT ON FROZEN WATER WHILE A LARGE PORTION OF THE WORLD DOESN’T HAVE FRESH WATER.`
Fuck, being half hispanic actually gave me even more privilege, because you damn well know I played that card on my college application. I guess I didn’t include that when my dad’s family immigrated MY GRANDPA GOT HIRED TO WORK FOR THE UNITED NATIONS ON EL SALVADOR’S BEHALF.
And with all this, I know I, and those I grew up with with similar privileges, have a duty to use it. To speak up for those who can’t. To share ideas for those who can’t. To influence for the better on behalf of those who can’t.
Yet, today, I’m still not sure what that looks like.
But I do know this…
It’s time to stop sucking the silver tit of this country;
Stop snorting its inappropriate opiates
Keeping us out of it; out of reality (hat tip: The Story So Far)
Like being an American gives us a special prince treatment.
A special set of glasses that blinds us to our own entitlement.
We have to tear off our glasses. Let the fogginess focus in. Let the bright sun dilate through our pupil. Burn us. Hurt us. But make us see the truth.
We have a ton of problems. It’s time to write a story our children will be proud of.