I wait on the subway platform, the air too cold to ride my bike now. It sits on the street, affixed to a pole while it prays silently to not be stripped of its wheels once again by some crackhead in need of twenty dollars.
A cold wind whips through my hair and chills me from the inside out. What I have dreaded has returned: the darkness-induced malaise, the need to cuddle up to someone, that indescribable something. My appetite for quieter things has returned, the hedonistic summer having overwhelmed, the heat having drained.
I need a break.
The G train arrives in the distance, flickering at the end of the tunnel like a freshly struck match, bits of trash incinerating between the wheel and the rail. Here it comes, the watching again, the observance of everything because winter forces slowness. I eye the other platform under my black hood in my black tights, listening to my music on shuffle – songs that remind me of dark times because there were so many. Icy blue days on my icy blue walls, the familiar hissing of my radiator and the cold that stuck to the windows like dust.
Damien Jurado. James Blake. Kurt Vile. Mother fucking winter of 2011.
My knuckles are ruddy from the cold, pale in the spaces in between. I wait in the stillness that winter brings, its cold chills and goose bumps, the way my muscles ratchet against the bone.
Everyone on the subway looks charming in their button-up coats and their well-worn boots. Kids playing dress-up. I stand in the train behind a man reading some badly written newspaper with headlines like “SMARTEN UP, O.”
Michelle is home, organizing the spartan contents of her massive loft that she never spends any time in. She sits at her large wooden table with the glass top that slides back and forth like water over driftwood, painting her nails some fashionable shade of dead corpse.
“Every New Years, I think about where I will be this time next year,” she says. We never thought she would be here, living in New York, painting her nails in this beautiful empty space with 1.5 bathrooms and a crystal chandelier. Then again, I’ve never prophesized my own life in any real way. I’m supposed to be the editor of a magazine by now, living in some shitty apartment and wearing nice shoes, going to business dinners and paying off monthly installments of student loans.
I walk over to her giant bay of windows that looks onto a tableau of the giant windows of others. We spy on her shirtless neighbor across the street.
“He’s always home,” Michelle says. “And he’s got so many goddamn chairs.”
We watch him take something out of the oven while we contemplate his sexual orientation. “I like him,” I say, “so he must be gay.” He disappears towards the back.
We lay on her bed, The Beatles playing fifteen hundred square feet away, the radiator roasting us horribly because she hasn’t figured out that there are knobs to turn it down yet. I laugh because I still feel like a kid even though I’m twenty-seven. I laugh because Michelle is living in a loft in Tribeca and it all feels so surreal – being older, paying for things, crossing the street without having to hold someone’s hand. Just another girl playing dress-up, practicing for her future life as an adult.