3 AM. Sunday night. Insomnia. Missing something or someone I can’t have now.
2 PM. Monday afternoon. Pouring rain. Time for my daily outing.
My inner wimp grumbles. I grab my boots and my umbrella and head out anyway.
I get into the elevator. I say “Hi, How you doing?” to another guy in the elevator. My voice is weak and quiet. We chat about the weather a bit.
Outside I make my rounds. H&M. Nothing out today. Finally find a semi-cute girl and ask her where the men’s section is.
My voice is louder now, more present.
I take a walk through Starbucks. It’s crowded but hardly anyone interesting. I talk to a cute girl in line for a moment. Ask her if the place has internet.
Head out to Barnes and Noble. I see a semi-cute girl looking at books. I pick up a book, The Road, and ask her how it is. We get into a brief conversation. I ask her if she can make any recommendations. She’s friendly, but I’m not really attracted to her.
I head upstairs to the cafe. Slowly walk by all the tables. From behind I see a girl that could be cute.
I walk up to her. She’s super cute.
“How’s the coffee here,” I say.
She pulls out her headphones and smiles.
She says she isn’t drinking coffee.
“What are you drinking?” I ask.
“How’s the soymilk?”
She laughs and says it’s good.
“That’s actually cool,” I say pointing to a mini-computer thing she has. “Is that a word processor?”
“It’s actually a dictionary” she says. “It does Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English.” She tells me she’s originally from Korea.
I tell her that I was in South Korea a while ago. It was actually almost ten years ago.
We talk about Seoul. I tell her we drank a lot of Soju.
I notice she has schoolbooks.
“Are you in school?” I ask. She says she goes to school in California and is in New York visiting for a month.
I ask if she has a lot of friends here. She says she doesn’t have many friends because she’s not going to school here.
“It’s hard meeting people in New York, ” I say. “Well… I’m Eric.” We shake hands. “We can be friends… but you have to promise not to hit on me.”
She laughs. I ask what she’s been doing for fun in the city. She says she goes to Korea town a lot.
I tell her she is going to be my hookup, that she’s going to show me the good restaurants and gallery openings.
We make plans for later this week and exchange numbers.
As I leave I high-five her. She then gives me the fist bump.
I can tell she’s really happy to have met me.
I am too.
I ride down the escalator with a brand-new excitement. I’m looking forward to seeing her again.
“More and more you learn to live with the unacceptable.
You sense the ever-hidden God retreating farther,
You might as well be a clown,
Big silly clothes, no evidence of desire.
That’s how you feel, say, on Tuesday.
Then out of the daily wreckage
comes an invitation
with your name on it. Or more likely,
That best girl of yours offers you,
Once again, a small local kindness.
You open your windows to good air
Blowing in from who knows where,
Which you gulp and deeply inhale
as if you have a death sentence. You have.
All your life, it seems, you’ve been appealing it.
Night sweats and useless stratagem. Reprieves.”
- Stephen Dunn