Those Hooded Sweatshirt Walks

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

I opened a book today, a book I had not opened in years, a literary anthology, given to me many years ago by a dear friend and lover.

The inscription reads, in part, “Next summer maybe we’ll be smarter, more adventurous. My professor once said, ‘The cruelest times to live is indeed in the wake of great possibility. The better is somehow irretrievably lost.’ Not for us, though, not for us.”

And reading this nearly brought me to tears, not completely for its sentiment, but because all memory seems to me somehow sad. Because the very act of recall somehow makes me melancholy. My good memories make me sad, my bad ones sadder still. I long for the past no matter what the past – even for the terrible times. Perhaps because times seem terrible still, and I long for a time, any time, that was earlier, because I might have done something other than what I did do, and then I might find myself in a situation at least more calm.

This book was given to me at a time when I was relatively miserable, confused, wretched, a time you’d think I’d be quite content to be beyond. I was working in a cupcake joint in the West Village and living in a hovel in Harlem and was just discovering what it was to be wont to vice and what that can do to your ability to be kind. I was in love with a girl who wore glasses and listened to indie bands and read Wallace and Burroughs. And we would drive late at night to Coney Island or to a Friendly’s in the burbs to get fries and we would smoke cigarettes out the car windows and talk about history. And she was so unbelievably cool, inestimably cooler than I, and perhaps for that, though I was in love, I couldn’t just let myself love her. It was romantic and also sad, though I suppose there must be some color of sadness in everything that is romantic.

There were cockroaches all over my bathroom then. My apartment was decorated with appendages of mannequins I’d pulled out of dumpsters outside fashion boutiques downtown. I was broke and I was broken. In my confusion and selfishness I mistreated a genuine and earnest girl that in the end I didn’t deserve. At least at the time. I’d like to think I’ve learned something since then. That I am better now. I’d like to think that. I have to think that. Because I have such a fucked-up sort of nostalgia that if I didn’t believe I had learned something about being a person since then, since any time now in memory, I would die from the longing I feel for these unhappy pasts.

“The cruelest times to live is indeed in the wake of great possibility. The better is somehow irretrievably lost.” Not for us, though, not for us. But maybe so. Maybe I had not lived through enough great possibility to realize how little is indeed possible and how freeing the narrowing of choice and the closing of time can be. Maybe all of my memory makes me sad because I see just how cruel possibility can be and how it haunts the places it once lived years after its time has passed.

And yet, maybe next summer I will be smarter, more adventurous. I hope so.

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