I’m in New York and it’s Autumn. I’m hot. I shouldn’t complain, but I’m hot and this coat is heavy. It’s cold in the shade, though, and the dusty residue from the potatoes I just selected at the farmer’s market – that’s going to be gone soon, too – is bothering me in a wash-my-hands, vague OCD way. I’m outside and you couldn’t pay me to use the “public” toilets in Union Square. I’ve seen too many a tortured soul go in there and not emerge, and judging by whatever mental state to which they are clinging, it would not behoove me to be in a confined space with one of these individuals. I’m being judgemental; I’m terrible. I’m a bad person. The only person worse, now, is the one in front of me blowing clouds of cigarette smoke that looks like I just shook off all that potato dust into the air. It’s competing with the other shit blowing around this afternoon; the smells, the exhaust, that same Halal cart that – god knows where the meat comes from – serves the same fare as every other cart in the city. Except this cart, this one has a line behind it, and the guy cooking there either burned or tossed a piece of meat into the fire so it’s smoking, smoking, smoking, turning the air as grey as my fingertips and these organic pretentious potatoes that had better taste good. If nothing else, my so-called organic potatoes are apparently three colors and cost under a dollar. Why the fuck would anyone want – or care for – tri-colored sweet potatoes, but this is New York and if it’s weird and apparently cool, some hipster will pick it up, wrap bacon in it and charge 18 times the cost, selling from a food truck, and end up with a small fortune. They’ll get more press than I ever will; my name won’t grace the New Yorker – at least I believe – because I didn’t know or screw my way in there. I’m a terrible person, but I”m better than that.
These grey streets today are just desperate, trying to glimmer in the autumn sun. It’s the same sun as last week, but it’s lower, now, because they changed the clocks on us, taunting our circadian rhythms with some bullshit excuse that becomes “daylight savings time” in the summer, and not in the fall. You’re supposed to save this time but, for what? I want to take this time and share it with other people, give them seconds, moments, a kiss, or another breath to cherish, those words they thought could never be said – they can say them in this saved, precious hour. But instead we all – mostly – take that time and sleep it, drink it, screw it away, like time is not fleeting, misty, and we’ll get it back in the summer, anyway, with that extra hour and the lie of more daylight.
I’m in New York and no one has time for anything, except to rush, hurry, push into the nasty grey subway cars – at least they don’t shove you in with sticks here – stare at the shimmery iPhones, professing to be silver and more important than that smile, touch, and honesty that Intagram doesn’t need to see. It can’t see because who really posts unstaged, uncurated pictures on there anyway? I know life goes on outside of the dust and the grey and the sunshine, mocking my winter coat and the colder temperatures that morning. This time of year is a joke. A death. A change that’s denied by the stuffing of turkeys and mouths and giving thanks for something we don’t understand; because that Friday is going to be Black, grimier and nastier than any so-called organic earth on my fingertips, so we can stuff our houses and empty our wallets and fill true emotional connection with all-too-sparkly gifts…because we don’t want to walk through that cloud of smoke and accept the unpleasantness that is life.
I’ve eaten at those street carts. I’ve downed the $19 cocktails in Brooklyn. I’ve bought into the “organic,” scared of the germs and the crazy and the vile bathrooms and scum being ejected into the air. I’ve screwed and drank and slept away enough hours. And I’ve taken countless showers, washed hands scrubbed and scrubbed those “damned spots,” and that dust. That dust…it just still clings.