The end of an old road. The beginning of a new one.

The day at the bungalow in Far Rockaway with 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and the tiny clams nipping at us in the waves. Also a day, years before, walking to the beach in FR to pick up sea glass on break from the worst of jobs, a fleeting escape from the misery. The morning, day, and late evening with 1 and 2 again watching soccer and eating enchiladas and finally arguing about libertarianism at a Russian cafe. (We ran naked into the ocean. That was my first entry here.) Nights on the roof in Gowanus. The time 5 and I went to five or possibly six performances of the same opera because the cast was so good we couldn’t stay home. The first summer in Montauk when 5 lit up the tree by the lake with lanterns and created enchantment. The time 2 and I went up to Boston and the house was just freezing but we couldn’t stop laughing with 1’s roommate 6 about the Harvard Yale game and The Hills. Monday evenings after therapy with 5 at a cheap, not very good Mexican place I would once loudly declare the best restaurant in New York because we were always so happy to be there. Going with 7 and 8 to the new Mamet play we all knew would be terrible, and being overjoyed by how much worse it was than we could have divined.

The time when 9 and I were already friends but just getting to know 10 and went out to the aforementioned best restaurant in New York and made 10 confess all kinds of terrible things about her sex life and we all laughed until we were suddenly perhaps permanently friends. Plotting with 9 to move into our office and ditch our apartments, but also confessing we maybe couldn’t stand more than a few more northeastern winters. Knit nights with 11 until we started bringing out the worst in one another and drifted apart (but not until after forming The Red Shoes, an occasionally triumphant trivia team with 12.) Double features at 13’s house, sometimes with 7, where 13 would tell dozens of little stories about stars of old Hollywood as if he had been there. Sitting in the best seats at the Met with 7 and 13 and 3 and 4 when unexpectedly they all could get them. Marie’s with 5 and later with 1 and 2, experiencing catharsis shouting “Maybe This Time” with the rest of the queens, and then of course 2 almost getting us kicked out on the street by singing along insistently with someone’s wretched solo. The time at Marie’s somebody knew every part to “A weekend in the country.” Taro duck with 14 in Chinatown on the way out of Boston, constantly interrupting one another because seventeen years now we know each other and it’s ok to interrupt.

New Year’s with 15 and 16 and 17 and 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 and 22, eating at half past midnight after kissing everyone on the roof. 17 and 18s wedding, and taking the French Farewell because I was wretched that 1 wasn’t coming back to New York. O’Neill’s, before it closed, after the opera, with tout le monde, and we all thought ourselves so clever, and we all agreed. Saturday late mornings when 1 was back in town and living with 2 in Williamsburg, and 23 would cut up a watermelon and someone would make coffee and tea. Carving jack-o-lanterns with 24 and 25 after drinking shocking tankards of mid-grade whiskey, and how our respective pumpkins seemed to diagnose each of us with something. God knows why we were basically unscathed the next day. My family visiting and unanimously deciding after four hours at Long Day’s Journey into Night that what we would like to do next is see another play. Long fall weekends pre-1 with 26 and 27 when New York was kicking me in the face and I need to sleep on somebody’s couch and watch Veronica Mars. 28 having known me long enough to drop the sometimes unbearable hipster thing and be sincere and terribly funny, especially at karaoke. Sunday brunch with 29 before he died, though we had drifted. 30 in uncomfortable heels, holding my hand at 29’s funeral when somebody mentioned his knack for impressions and I cried loudly. Conversations usually on the A train with 1 deciding that yes, we were leaving.

This is my mythos of New York and environs in the form of a list, by necessity partial but still pretty damn long. I felt tired of pseudonyms and initials so I did it this way.

14 responses to “The end of an old road. The beginning of a new one.”

  1. Bryan says:

    This is so fucking great, Mr. S.

  2. Bryan says:

    I like all of it, but three times through I think what I like most about it is the tension between the list as format and the numbering system, which feel like they should be the same thing, but they’re really two lists that overlap and sometimes pull against one another. And I also just like the evocation of time and place and a group of people/numbers I can sometimes put names to and others not and it doesn’t really matter, because I could have read this in a lit journal and not known you and I would have liked it just as much.

  3. GF says:

    Thank you! I was afraid it might just look like a word problem.

  4. AWB says:

    “Beautiful, Mr S,” sniffed #2 in her office.

  5. T-Mo says:

    This makes me nostalgic for times I never experienced, and wistful for your departure from NY. All the same, we Whatsiteers on the west coast look forward to making many new memories with you.

  6. LP says:

    Beautifully remembered. And: What #5 commenter said. Here’s to making new memories on the left coast, many of them (one can hope) in karaoke rooms and Russian diners.

  7. Ivy says:

    I did read it not knowing what the heck was going on one bit, but loving the whimsy and the mystery and the nostalgia that works, even if you don’t know the people or the places.

  8. Ivy says:

    But it maybe helps coming from an entire country of aching nostalgia. Or maybe we all do.

  9. swells says:

    God, so wonderful. Can’t wait till I actually do read this in a literary journal. God, it’s really great.

  10. Bryan says:

    AWB! Ivy!

  11. J-Man says:

    Ditto what 1-10 say – how beautifully and originally written!

  12. T-Mo says:

    I read this amazing post for, oh, the fifth or sixth time this morning around 5 when I couldn’t sleep and got misty all over again. Then I fell asleep and had an intense and vivid dream that J-Man and I were moving away from LA and had a limited amount of time to do all the things we wanted. I elected to try to cover every area of Griffith Park charted on a giant, colorful map. There is something about nostalgia, anyone’s nostalgia, that hits a spot for me. It could be cultural, or it could be personal, but it’s a thing.

  13. Trixie says:

    Wow, Mr. S…
    This is really so so good.
    Nicely done.

  14. GF says:

    Thanks, guys. I wrote it out of necessity during my last few days in the city. I’m glad it was a good read.