I have a hard time walking through a neighborhood where I used to live. I’m subletting a bedroom in an apartment five blocks below an apartment where I subleased a bedroom the month before (with one week in between that we shan’t recount because it was dreadful). Waiting for my clothes to clean themselves last week I walked past the old building en route to a deli with the cheapest sandwiches I’ve yet found in the city. I saw the man that was always on the stoop, always standing beside the door with his head half-cocked and his mouth half-smiling, an air of detachment about him that in my short time as his neighbor I could never place.
I passed my former laundromat, careful not to be seen, as if the lady that ran the joint might notice, I don’t know, the quarters in my pocket, realize I had moved on. Always in these situations I unconsciously look down on the people that are still there—I thought we were moving on, I say to myself, Why are you still here? As if what I’m doing is the only thing to do.
And naturally the situation is reversed when the situation is reversed: if I know someone who is moving, maybe helping that person to move, while I plan only to stay put, I do not think I should get packing, it’s time to go. My thoughts in this situation are more abstract, bordering on apathy, as if the other person were merely going on vacation, or to a movie. (A movie whose attendance requires all of one’s possessions to be present, I suppose?)
I skirted the border of Chinatown last night, passing the packed storefronts on Canal street, weaving through the men with their bedsheets full of purses, and remembered some of the words I wrote when every experience in the city was novel. It was only two years ago but it feels a lifetime away. I remember that time as boundlessly inspiring, while now I only feel tired. And when I say now and only I mean right this instant and mostly, and so this comparison is unfair, but I’ve been scolding myself to simply start recording my experiences again, and so here is one.