K.S. ANTHONY: 2017

25 December 2017

Thoughts on Christmas

Every Christmas ghost is a Ghost of Christmas past.

The holiday itself represents a break with the past – a new covenant – in the form of Christ as redeemer, Christ as savior, Christ as a living and suffering God-made-flesh.

It's the movement of the Old Testament YHWH from throwing his hands up and scorching or flooding the Earth to the New Testament God trying to figure out why His creations are so muddled, why the gift of free will can lead to such misery, why these humans made in His image cannot quite seem to live up to the standard and choose instead to bayonet each other's children and destroy the Earth, most painfully, in His name.

That's one approach, anyway. In that approach are arguments about pronouns, intended audiences, the Church, the crusades, Hellenic contact, translations, language, and a dazzling, dizzying array of hermeneutical circles.

Is it better? Worse? I don't know. Ask me on a day when I haven't read the news or opened Twitter and the subway runs on time with seats for everyone and I might have an answer for you.

In Travels With My Aunt, Graham Greene writes, “Christmas it seems to me is a necessary festival; we require a season when we can regret all the flaws in our human relationships: it is the feast of failure, sad but consoling.”

The feast of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The feast of things done and left undone, as believers mutter and whisper in confession.

For those who celebrate Christmas – or even those who ignore it outright or take to it with a more secular approach – the past shows up in memories of it. Of one's personal failings. Of other people's failings. The thanks we never got and the resentment it engendered. The letters we never wrote and the guilt that still festers. The things we gave as gifts... with conditions and footnotes attached. The things we took and forgot to express thanks for. The calls we cannot – or stubbornly will not – make anymore. The pride that keeps us from asking forgiveness and for granting it, even when not asked.

And of course, there's the season itself, ushered in by the longest night, giving way to the coldest days. More time to consider, regret, by thankful. More time to spend thinking.

Thinking about the people not here now who were here last year.
And wondering about the ones here this year who won't be next year.

And so it goes, until we slip from remembering to remembered; from forgetting to forgotten, from spring to whatever certain uncertainty lies beyond the winter's pale: each of us a Ghost of Christmas Past in the making.

20 September 2017

This Is Where I Leave You

She walked away. Once. Then again. Then again.

What I had wanted was for her to hold on, to keep holding on, to refuse to let go. I wanted her to protect those letters, those mornings walking past the black iron gates and over the misty bridge, those things that I had to let go of. I wanted her to keep me, keep us, even though I knew that the only part of me that she’d be able to keep were the artifacts of memory that I had so desperately created while we were together, strung together in paper and ink over lonely hours and quiet waiting. 

Maybe she did. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she will. Maybe she won’t. Because those things are where I can’t be; cannot ever be, I’ll never know.

I live with these memories now. Of a quiet girl with long blonde hair who loved kisses and books and coffee and lingering breakfasts and who loved me better than I deserved. Of dew sparkling in the English winter morning and a hand that always found mine. Of a city that I had to give up everything to return to. All of that, but most of all that on our last day together, I watched snowfall through the window of her dorm room, not really understanding that eventually it would all melt away, not really understanding that all I would ever be able to do is look back and find that she had gone.

This is where I leave you.

Those are the words I said when next I saw her, two summers and two bruised hearts later, as I tried to summon the courage to say something else to mark another goodbye. I stumbled, as I always do when I speak. Here I left you, here I found you. A wanderer's words, stolen from some esoteric handbook and clumsily handed over to a girl I once loved -- and perhaps still loved -- on a September morning at the end of a summer that might have otherwise been entirely owned by misery. Speech – like patience, like hope, like love, like so many other things –failed me.

Actually, the reverse is true. I failed in speech, just as I did – and do –  in patience and hope and love and so many other things.

When I kissed her on the forehead, the ache of unspoken words lodged in my throat, I realized that she was wearing the same perfume that I had carried in my jacket like a talisman next to my now-long-gone rosary. There were no words for that either and when I looked back, trying to remember lines from Orpheus, trying to remember the last time I looked back, I found myself drowning in my longing. I sat for a while on a bench, trying to find a way to rewrite, rescript, do everything that had just happened over again, but when I turned around in the crushing hope that she would still be there, waiting for me, she was nowhere to be found. 

And that is where she left me. 

03 July 2017

It's Not A Romance

I don't want to know what it is. I know what it is not.

It's not a romance. She's not my girlfriend, my fiancée, my significant other, or "the one," though in truth, I don't believe in the latter concept at all and, perhaps most painfully, I don't really believe in the former ones anymore either. It's a good thing. It means she'll never be my ex or former anything. Unless she will be, which I don't think about.

I think the first time we actually slept together was after the haze a night of drinking settled into the mental twilight that isn't quite a blackout, but is still nearly as far from consciousness as oblivion. I do remember she said "because I love you" in response to something I asked her earlier that night and I didn't know what to say to that except, perhaps, "what?"

I don't know if she sees – that is, sleeps with – other people. I don't ask because I don't want to know. To ask would be to care. To know might mean to become jealous and though I feel the occasional pang of jealousy – the hot sting in the pit of my stomach that I fight down like a fever – I refuse to fuel it with information. I don't want to know. I don't want to care.

But I know. She leaks just enough information so that I know. As for caring, well... that's neither here nor there.

What I care about these days is not finding myself where I was last September, with my heart carved out. Or not finding myself on the receiving end of suddenly being blocked on every single form of social media that you could think of – including LinkedIn, though that was apparently an afterthought as it was fairly recent – by a woman I once I thought of as one of my dearest friends, later a lover. I care about being able to sleep at night, which doesn't happen often.

And, to my agony, I care about her.

But I don't know what relationships look like anymore. I see other people in them and yes, I "get" the whole "let's-show-off-how-cute-we-are-on-Instagram" bit, but I have no idea how any of it works and, truth be told, I sometimes exult in watching them shatter. It's bitter exultation because it proves what I have long believed without ever really wanting to: that all things fall apart.

When we both finally work up the courage to talk about the thing that we're both wondering if the other notices, all the fears that I have kept dissolved in the solution of my life – in gin, denial, and in conversations that I don't have – suddenly grow into shards that crystallize along the soft places that remain in me: the fault lines left by others, the scars wrought by things that fell apart.

We fight. We fall asleep together. I wake in the morning surprised to find her, just as I am always surprised to find her.

Just as I have always been surprised to find anyone.

We lie there in unfeeling silence for hours. We have sex. We sleep. We order food. When she leaves late that afternoon, I resist the urge to stop her, resist the urge to hold her for just a little longer. To hold anything is to admit that it is not yours, that it can never be yours, because nothing and no one can ever really belong to anyone. Nothing can change that. No vow, no oath, no promise. No kiss. No contract. No blood. No binder.

Not a book, not a body, not even these words. Everything belongs to itself and, in the final argument, to time's threshing floor.

I write to her later, mustering stoicism when I actually ache. A last attempt at courage, partly because I know that I am still mangled, still badly damaged, and there's not much more that can be done to me.

There's not much to say on the matter, is there? I don't think either of us are terribly stable or conventional creatures and I'm not in a position to tell you how to live your life: it would be 1) hypocrisy and 2) a foundation for later resentment. 

Some part of me wishes that I had something - a bankroll, mostly - large enough to care for the people closest to me. But I don't. And I don't even know if that would 'solve' anything. 

I was uncomfortable lying to myself about all of it anyway. I just didn't want to deal with it, didn't want to face it. Last night I ran into another one of reality's little minefields. That's life, I suppose.

She replies.

I wondered if or when this might come to a head, & from which angle. It seemed impossible that we could just wordlessly carry on as we had been, but I didn’t dare to assume. Part of me wondered if it was a game, a seduction, carefully-chosen steps. Part of me wondered if we were playing with emotional wildfire & pretending it was candlelight. 

Before I am halfway down the message, I realize that I know what it is, that of course I know what it is, that it can really only be one thing, that it has always only ever been one thing.

Because she is unavailable. Because she will disappoint me in the way that I am always disappointed. Because she is unattainable. Because I fear – and perhaps expect – that she will eventually outgrow me and become less than a stranger to me.

I know what it is. And so I cling to the last words of her reply before I go to sleep: a drowning man clutching a piece of driftwood just before he disappears into the darkness.

Whatever the case may be I love you, too. 

26 April 2017

Banal Intimacies

Watching her let her hair down.

Zipping (or unzipping) a dress.

The smell of perfume in the bathroom.

A second towel on the rack.

The rare shared cigarette.

Lipstick stained glasses.

A borrowed t-shirt, worn to bed.

Fingers intertwining.

Her shoes next to the couch.

My hand on the small of her back.

Her unexpected touch.

The sudden ache of absence when she gets up for a glass of water.

Laughter. Sighs.

Strands of her hair that remain long after she's gone.

The inevitability of silence.

18 April 2017

Montmartre: Plus Ça Change...

Time hadn't smoothed the 18th Arrondissement’s rough edges. Little had changed. The internet café had closed, as had the massage parlor where I’d see a Thai girl in a white dress smoking outside every time I passed by. The doorways that would later be filled with lithe silhouettes and stained velvet curtains were closed.  Pigalle’s narrow streets were dead in the daytime and not much better at night, though if you liked your vices cheap, dirty, and served with a sidecar of penicillin, it was glad to suck you in. Gangs of loud hustlers shouted at each other and forced their wares and cons on scared tourists. I ignored their dirty french and continued on, hands in my pockets, carefully watching the pale junkies pacing near the public toilets. 

I crossed Boulevard de Rochechouart and continued north, up through Cligancourt. Little had changed. Rue des Martyrs was still covered in a layer of dust and dog shit. Dog shit saints, I thought to myself, and it wasn't as funny as I wanted it to be. It wasn't funny at all, really. 

It had been 8 years since I walked through Montmartre and met Karl at Le Vrai Paris on Rue de Abbesses, but my feet still knew the cobblestoned hills and as I passed the red bricks of Eglise Saint-Jean de Montmartre and the carousel at the Abbesses Metro, everything became familiar. 

A block later and I saw the black and white striped canopy hanging over the sidewalk tables.

Voila. Le Vrai Paris. 

I sat at the table I had always taken and ordered a carafe of wine. They no longer served carafes, so I settled for a large glass. The waiter brought me an ashtray when I lit a cigarette and put my pack down. 

The combination of the smoke and cheap bordeaux still tasted green to me. It was the last of my first memories of Paris that had not, like me, been corrupted by time. 

I thought about Karl. I thought about what I had become in 8 years, how like him I was, but how different too. He had never really liked violence. He just happened to be very good at it. He didn't dislike it either: he was simply neutral. Zéro

I had developed a taste for the way it felt like a game to me; the way it felt to turn the tables on someone, to feign weakness, infirmity, or gullibility and then simply... hunt. 

I wanted it to bother me, the way that it used to at first, but it didn't. It also didn't bother me that it didn't bother me, so I was left somehow blank, like a mirror that didn't reflect anything back. 

No. It never bothered me. 

I longed to feel something other than the desire to feel something. Pigalle was a flea market of cheap feeling, cheap art, cheap desires, cheap thrills, all of which I had enjoyed at one time or another during the week that became a month that became a year in Paris before I sought my trade not in words but in arms and dark places.

I glanced at my watch. Almost 1630. The sun had started its lazy descent and the shadows began to change. I reached down to search my rucksack for a notebook, hoping to try to write something. I heard the scrape of metal chair legs and when I looked up, pulling my Moleskine from the depths of the bag, Karl was sitting next to me, grinning and chomping on a cigar that he briefly held a torch lighter to.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, eh?" he sneered, blowing a thick plume of smoke into the air. "Have you thought of anything to fucking write about yet?" 

Time hadn't smoothed his rough edges. Little had changed.

(Fiction related to Le Vrai Paris and the related unfinished novel)

No Past To Speak Of: A Fairytale of New York

At some point, every writer who lives or who has ever lived in New York City writes something like this. Sometimes it's a love letter, full of possibilities and a past that, like a shadow, can never really be left behind, but can at least be ignored while you walk towards the sun or a nest of streetlights. Sometimes it's an elegy, full of city lights that glow a little brighter through the lens of nostalgia and cramped, cold apartments that are remembered as quaint as often as they are miserable. Most often though, it's a little bit of both, as when Joan Didion writes in "Goodbye To All That," her essay about her 8 years here that,

"It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city only for the very young" before confessing that she too "was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again."

Some people spend their entire lives imagining a life in New York City. I was never one of them. I plainly hated it the first time I visited in the summer of 2004. It was like San Francisco on steroids, but much hotter, far more crowded, and possessed of an entirely overwhelming ambient stress. I didn't visit again until the summer of 2010 when I spent a month in New Haven and came to visit friends one weekend: I hated it then, too.

I didn't really start to love New York until I came to visit later that year to take some kind of absurd placement test for Columbia and was struck, all at once, by the beauty of the city in the fall. When I moved to Manhattan that winter – after being delayed by a blizzard and having to sleep on the bare floor of my old apartment until I could get a flight out – the first thing I saw as my cab cut through Queens was the immense quantity of snow-covered trash that walled off the sidewalks from the streets. As we made our way through Harlem and Morningside Heights, "Empire State of Mind" came on the radio: a slickly ironic anthem given the fact that none of glamour promised by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys seemed to be present anywhere in salt and snow-scraped Gotham. I spent that first winter and spring semester buried in city snow and Morningside misery, exacerbated by the fact that my Monday and Wednesday mornings demanded that I trudge through slush and ice-slick streets at 0900 to take University Writing, which, incidentally, is where I first encountered Didion's essay. Suffice it to say, the romance was short-lived.

All romances are short-lived, save the romance of romance.

Time passed. I suffered. I endured. I drank. I suffered and endured and drank some more. Finally, I graduated. I left the city abruptly in late May of 2013 to serve out what would be a two-year sentence in Hollywood, California. The story of why I left is well-known enough. No place in New York would hire me. I got an offer in California that I could've refused, but to do so would have meant drowning both myself and my significant other in the sharp realities of unemployment – or worse, misemployment – and as much as it pained me, I left. It meant losing her for good, but fuck it: she was better off without me as I always knew she would be and I, for better or worse, was temporary.

I hated Hollywood: it felt provincial, vulgar; far too obvious in the ambitions that flourished or died there. Its sole charm was that it was cheaper to live in than New York and that once I moved out of my first "celebrity" (a wrestler's Reality TV daughter, a well-known rapper's grow room) apartment complex and into an ancient 1928 building with a courtyard that cost half as much, easy enough to write in. I was immensely unhappy in Hollywood. The only thing I really enjoyed was my job, but by the time the start-up I was working for suffered its first major stall, I was done with the place.

So I traveled. Few people know that I traveled: the only people I told were the ones that I knew wouldn't think of it as out of character. I spent quite a bit of time abroad with a girl that almost no one knew I was dating. I'd like to say that the reason for that are complicated, but they're not and at this point, they "why" of the story isn't important. It seldom is. What's important is the story itself: who we tell it to, how it varies, what meaning we derive from it.

Life is always a series of reinventions. We find out who we are by finding out who and what we are not. We discover what home is by searching for it, by looking for the places that resonate with us, by returning to the places that call us back.

For me, those places have always been oases and islands, as unstable and adrift as I am. I am fond of telling people that I grew up and got my first education in an Irish bar and, to some degree, that is true. That bar, now gone, was one of those early tastes of home for me. So was the next bar. And some job. And some apartment. And of course, some girl and then some other girl. It was – and is – a matter of temperament. But the movement was always forward. Leave everything behind. Forge a new skin. Take a new name (Carl, Black Jimmy, Kalae, Kal, K.S. Anthony... have we met? I don't think we have). Adopt a new proxy family: cops, drinkers, students, writers, kind people. Move on. Never turn around. Never go back. Never look behind.

No past to speak of. I'm not from anywhere, really...so tell me more about yourself.

I broke that rule for New York because I felt like I had a past to speak of in New York.

I came back to New York for a girl and for a job, but mostly for a girl. I came back to her too: she was part of the world I left behind when I moved, but I found that, like New York, there was something about her that I could not – and perhaps still cannot – leave behind.

That story isn't well-known and I don't really care to tell it. Life happened. Jobs disappear. Friends fuck off. People leave. It's not an interesting tale. At this point, it's less a trauma than a tedious detail that serves no narrative purpose other than to offer some scant wisdom about things that I already knew, not through nostalgia, but through the bitter and foggy lens of hindsight.

New York City is the only city I've ever moved back to. The girl, though it puzzles and pains me to admit it, is the only girl I would ever go back to.

There may very well be other cities. There will certainly be other girls. I will stay or move for other reasons. I will find other homes so long as there are places and people who will take me in.

That's fine. Life is always a series of reinventions.

Even so.

I will never love anyone quite that way again.

11 April 2017

Some Question Of Solitude

Someone recently said to me, "I don't know how you do it: being alone all the time." The implied question caught me off-guard. I never really think of myself as being "alone all the time," though it's true that I often go days without leaving my apartment, true that the number of friends that call on me here can be counted on a single finger, true that I am, for all intents and purposes, alone all the time.

A year ago, I was in a very different place. I had a full-time job that allowed me to work remotely. I had a girlfriend who I loved more than anything. I had a secondary family - hers - that provided a kind of warmth and acceptance that has always eluded me. I had friends that I'd see if not often, than at least regularly, some shared with her, others of my own. I was whatever the opposite of alone was. 

And then everything fell apart. As with so many other things, the first signs of deterioration were ignored to avoid discomfort, ignored to avoid having to make changes, ignored, full stop. 

There's more to all of that, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that it all fell apart. 

Then again, I'm not even sure that matters. 

People leave. Lives are disrupted. Things change. All of that is familiar to me. What is unfamiliar now – and what the commenter seemingly recognized – is that I have not really returned to any semblance of my former self. I've endured too many humiliations, large and small, to go back to being able to really place my faith or trust in any of the institutions or ideals I used to believe in. 

At some point, I think the only way to live with the things that have crippled us is to wear our scars as badges of honor and to learn to find comfort under the weight of whatever it is we have to bear. 

You just keep going because that's what you do. Maybe because you're too stubborn to quit. Maybe because you're convinced it'll get better. Maybe because you know it could always get worse. Maybe because it's just habit.

I don't know. I just keep going. Probably because I know that I was always alone to begin with.

As are we all. 

27 February 2017

Paris: L'hiver. Part 2: The Girl At The Ritz

The night had just started to sparkle and it was barely 6pm, so I decided to walk up Rue Saint Honoré. Most of the shops were still open and I thought for a moment about dropping into the bar with the barrel tables, but knew that I would just end up going back to my room if I did.

I continued up Saint Honoré to the wash of the bright golden light of Place Vendôme.

The Vendôme Column was lit like a pillar of steel glowing silver and blue in the sodium lamps that lit the square. I peered into the windows of Boucheron and Charvet and then walked across the square into the Ritz.

I sat for a while in the corner at Bar Hemingway under the austere bust of the writer balanced on an old Corona typewriter, feeling the weight of loneliness that had unpacked itself come to rest. I wanted someone to share all of it – the orange-lit square, the ruby-veined marble, the easy glow of the first  and second and third drink – with someone. Not the people who crowded the bar and provided atmosphere, but someone. It was companionship, not camaraderie that I hoped for, all the while self-conscious about it, injured by my own sense of vulnerability and a little ashamed of it.

Occasionally, I'd scribble something in my notebook and cross it out. Eventually I switched to champagne. Then French 75s. The warmth brought on by the first few drinks gave way to a blunt anger: a sullen disappointment that, despite the beauty surrounding me, rendered every square inch of it sterile, antiseptic, dull, just as it had spread its shadow over the Louvre. Before long I was drunk and, growing tired of a loud group of Russian businessmen and their English hosts, took a table in the tiny alcove that looked like a library and continued drinking there.

And then all at once, the atmosphere in the bar changed.

The bar didn't become any quieter, but all at once I felt calmer. I was daydreaming, watching the bubbles in my drink rise when she walked in.

She had white-gold hair pulled back in an updo and wore a black evening gown and opera gloves. The smell of vanilla and powder and cigarette smoke woke me like cold fingertips caressing a cheek. She was with an older woman, equally blonde and elegant, draped in furs, sparkling with diamonds. They sat at the table across from mine, settling in and shrugging away their stoles.

She caught my staring and smiled at me with pursed red lips.

I immediately broke away, embarrassed, feeling her eyes on me as she laughed at something I didn't hear.

There was music in her voice.

And its song was that of forgetting.

06 February 2017

Paris: L'hiver. Part 1.

The dawn glowed orange on the creamy gray horizon as we finally shook free of the Icelandic night and started toward morning in Paris. I drank a beer and stretched out in my seat watching the starboard moon's reflection on the wing. The beer was very cold and I justified drinking it because it was 3 or 4 am in New York, whatever that meant. It occurred to me shortly after that I didn't need to justify it; that there was no one in my life to justify anything to anymore and that's why I left. 

We were about two hours from France, just over an hour out of Reykjavik. Most of the passengers were sleeping or reading. I was content to watch the morning's fire yawning before the thin clouds beneath us and the slow shift in gradient as the skies gave way to dawn. It was not long before I fell asleep against the window as I watched the light rise, even as we found soft waves of turbulence that shook the plane and the captain whispered something in Icelandic and then English about the cool air outside.

When I awoke, it was to the rough thump of our wheels hitting the tarmac at Orly under a gray Parisian sky.

Once off the plane, I resisted the urge to buy macarons and coffee at Ladurée. I moved quickly, bought an RER ticket and then got on the shuttle to Antony. At Antony, I waited in the fog with commuters and other passengers then took the blue line to Châtelet Les Halles. I found a seat and nearly fell asleep, paying little attention to the stops before Saint-Michel Notre-Dame: the only one that resembled the Paris I remembered. At Châtelet Les Halles, a police officer stopped me and asked me to open my bags. I fumbled, both in French and English, and she finally settled for squeezing my duffle bag and searching my backpack before she turned her attention to a new batch of travelers. She's looking for a rifle, I realized. That was new to me. 

I walked past the shops and cafés above Rue de Rivoli through the 1st Arrondissement, stopping only to walk into a doorway under a red and white TABAC sign and buy a pack of cigarettes. Une boîte de Gauloises Blondes, s'il vous plait. My French sounded cleaner than I thought it would. The woman there took my five Euros with no further discussion. I left and found my hotel just off Rue Saint Honoré, around the corner from a small fish shop and a bar where people stood outside smoking, their beers sitting on old barrels. 

You are a little early, the young Moroccan girl at the desk said. 

I can wait, I said. 

No, it's ok, she said. Chambre 478. Leave the key at the desk whenever you go out: it's easier. She handed me an ancient key on a huge brass ring and I memorized clef quarte-sept-huit because I had forgotten that the word for room was chambre.

The room was tiny and cold. Including the bathroom, it was smaller than my kitchen in New York. There was a desk. A window looked out onto a wall, but there was a ledge and some sad flowers in a planter that had somehow survived the biting wind. The ledge, I thought, would be perfect for chilling wine or beer. 

I resisted the urge to sleep, intent on resetting my broken circadian rhythms and forgetting that I never slept more than 3 or 4 hours a night. Instead, I put on my top coat and grabbed my cigarettes, scarf, and notebook and headed onto Rue Saint Honoré so that I could see the Tuileries and the Louvre again.

I lit a cigarette and walked towards Rue de Rivoli. Outside the Hotel Louvre, the air smelled like warm crêpes and as much as I wanted one, I also wanted to wait until the bitter taste of French tobacco left my mouth and the heavy feeling passed.

I sat at Le Ragueneau smoking, drinking Kronenbourg, and eavesdropping on a group of Italian women – out of boredom more than curiosity – as I waited for my croque monsieur. The sandwich was wonderfully warm and the pommes frites arrived in a tiny fryer basket, hot and unsalted. I felt restless, but my tension surrendered to my body's need for food and after two or three cigarettes and another beer, I began to feel almost calm, comforted by the awareness of my long-anticipated loneliness and the familiar strangeness around me. I paid, then crossed into the courtyard of the Louvre.

There were no crowds and the afternoon had never really shaken free of the gray skies that greeted me a few hours earlier. I paced a bit, frustrated that the faded gardens in the Tuileries were bare and that the palace seemed smaller and in dimmer relief than I had remembered it. 

Paris was colder than New York. Something in me felt colder, too. 

The romance of the city had left me. It was still beautiful, but gone was the young man who felt his breath leave him when he stood on the Cour Napoléon, staring rapturously at the fortress surrounding the glass pyramid. As much as I tried, I couldn't see with those eyes anymore and I remembered part of why I came, wondering if C------- had stood where I stood, aching to feel some closeness to her by being in the city that she loved, hoping to feel some part of her love for Paris leave its imprint, leave its warmth, leave its light on the faded gardens of my bare heart.

But even that hope that I protected from the world and her and most of all myself, felt distant and lost, and I watched the encroaching night smother it before I lit another cigarette and walked back towards my hotel, empty. 

01 January 2017


Closing the curtain on 2016 at the Waldorf-Astoria.
1 January 2017
New York City

2016 ended with a different kind of unexpectedness for me. While the last three months of the year burned down huge parts of my life – a job that I thought would be a career, a relationship that had weathered months of storms and that I thought would last, friendships I thought were permanent – the last three days of of the year were really quite different.

I will preface this with my answer to a question that someone posed to me a few nights ago when they asked, "what does falling in love feel like to you?" My answer was that it feels like newness, but not novelty; like an abundance of possibility. The best relationships I've had have always made me aware of the infinite number of possibilities that surround us, illustrated by the fact that a romantic relationship – or really, even a meaningful friendship – is nothing short of a miracle.

The last 3 days of 2016 reminded me of those possibilities, but rather than having a particular person arrive at the right time, I was confronted by joy itself.

Without going into the details, I'll simply say that I was surprised by my capacity to still be surprised. When I woke on the morning of December 30th after a long walk through the strangely empty streets of Manhattan the night before, I found that I was not dreading the day; that I was, in fact, quite glad to be alive and quite open to the abundance of possibilities that suddenly unfolded before me.

I decided to simply trust my instincts again, to search for happiness wherever I can find it, to pursue joy and life and love and beauty for no other reason than the fact that this is a terribly short life. It's far too short a life to waste pining for people who don't want you. Far too short a life to do things for people who don't care about you. Far too short a life to compromise your values for companies or systems or employers or people who see you as replaceable. I simply don't have that much time. I lost three months of my life caring about things and people that simply don't care about me: time I won't get back, time I can't reclaim, time I can't get credit for, time that I essentially threw away while neglecting and passing by this abundance of possibilities. I essentially spent three months – three fucking months – dying, rather than living.

All that became gently clear in the last three days of 2016.

I don't have any time for things like that anymore. I'm not angry: I don't have time for that either. I have far too much to do before life itself decides to cancel me and since I have no idea when that's going to happen, I'm going to have to assume that it could be at any time.

Don't expect me to be conversant in the language of the concerns of the day: I know them all too well; I've made my preparations. Don't expect me to shudder at the latest horror or scandal: I'll find my own diversions, thank you. Don't expect me to be shocked by outrage or pettiness in the ongoing overflow of vulgar populism, decayed ideals, and sheer ugliness of the suicidal West, whether large or small.

As I said, I have other things to occupy my time with. Living things. Living relationships. Living places.

Expect the unexpected from me this year as I say yes to living in an abundance of possibilities and beauty and no to dying.