I wasn't feeling particularly well that day to begin with. Tuesdays tend to be extremely slow at work and I hadn't slept well the night before. When Rebecca walked in my immediate reaction was panic. I guess that's typically how I feel when separate worlds collide like that. I felt strangely exposed with this girl who I mostly knew from parties years ago standing in the restaurant. Which is especially strange in light of how brutally exposed she always seemed to me. So pale and small. So unabashedly in love with boys who clearly didn't care about her. So uncomfortably idolatrous of our lives. We talked and she still seemed bizarrely overexposed, immediately volunteering how unhappy she was with her job and where she lived. She went on to recall how cool she thought we were four years ago. We ("your crew," she said) had seemed like everything she wanted to be at the time. I feel something close to vertigo trying to imagine how we looked to her, even all this time later. Smoking cigarettes on the windowsills, playing cards, drinking constantly, always dressed deliberately strangely. Four years ago I felt like I knew this city, I had a place, a community maybe.
I felt ashamed. Like I had let her down or something. By becoming this mid-twenties waitress without direction. Who always meant to keep in better touch with that electrically close group of friends. Who hadn't done anything at all cool lately. Who was dressed in black and wearing cheap, conservative stud earrings.
It's weird to be moving away. I am sort of afraid that I have stayed here too long. That a particularly New York brand of cynicism has seeped into my perspective. Looking back on those first two years I can hardly retrace how I ended up here. In Queens, twenty-six, perhaps permanently single. And when I get on that plane, how will all of this New York-ness subside? In what pockets and corners will it store itself? And once I have done it, have realized my purpose, my desires, my self, will I call you all and tell you about it? And we'll laugh and understand each other based on all that time together, all those years ago?