Sunday, July 18, 2010

Water Watchers

There are benches on the east river where you can watch the sun come up. Or, if you’re like me, you can witness the sun going down without watching. Like a canary in a covered cage knows its morning, you’ll suddenly find yourself in the near dark and the East River has lost its sheen without warning. You’re most definitely being eaten by mosquitos. And there’s nothing funny about these moments. You’re crying and you know why, somewhere deep down, but you don’t know what to say about it – if it needs fixing or rethinking or just plain sleeping it off. Everyone notices you crying, even in the half dark, the runners behind you, the sleepy homeless beside you, the cell phone girls wafting around you, they all know you’re crying and they look at you like construction workers do at an unusually short and uncalled-for sparkly skirt on a Tuesday morning. It’s not the choices you had planned on but they are the ones you knew you had to make all along. Because you’re you. And you’d rather be dipped in disillusionment then constantly disappointed by boredom. There are no brakelights when you’re breaking the speed limit, every screeching corner bringing your wheels closer to what you think you’re afraid of.

New York city. No where to run. No where to hide. No where to cry in peace. No space of your own to feel your earlobes fill with blood and your body ask you softly where you’ve come and how you got here. Its just you and…new York city. Here together. And you haven’t forgiven each other. And you haven’t told each other how you feel. Even though you know goodbye is hanging in the wings. Once the curtain falls. Once the light disappears on the west side while you drop your gaze into the lightless East River. Once your eyes grow tired of your own reflection. Once the lights of downtown grow lightless in your heart and render you sightless in their glare. Tonight you’ll lay down next to the lover who’s soon to be long lost – a city that will never speak your name again as if you never haunted its walls. And you will come to realize that it wasn’t your name it called out on those un-lonely nights. It was its own.

The boardwalk grows dark but never cool on a sweltering July night. The hot garbage splayed out under the FDR grows sour fingers on the warm wind. Was it solitude you escaped here for? Was it meditation, contemplation or were you simply visiting fantasy’s gravesite in the dark, moving like an urban ghost along with the sub-80-degrees mid-summer runners. Whatever you came for, you find nothing but the uncanny feeling of being watched constantly by the living. Not even the darkness on the east river can excuse you from an unraveled, uncontemplated appearance – for a moment in your life that you visibly didn’t prepare for. Long Island City lends no skyline and no soundtrack as you hang your elbows over the railing, in hopes that the angle and the darkness will shield you from the prying eyes that pass behind. Shield you from the non-view of your life that you cherish, snub and ignore. And then it comes.

The skirt around your legs opens to let in a hot wind and the curious bugs on its breeze. The moment you came for. All the boats already swallowed by the dusk. The runners steeped in sightless sweat. The water-watchers sweatered in expected silence on the stoop of shore-less swells – under the eyes of an expressionless evening. Nothing escapes us and our unseeing eyes. Like falcons riding the hot summer air, we bear the blood we seek. It is we who haunt the sidewalks that we fear the most. We are the watched, the watchers and the watchless. We are New York City.

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