I Put This Moment Here

You can sit back in your chairs for a moment. I’m writing this for a Me of six months from now, when I don’t live here anymore and it’s freaking cold.
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It is a lovely summer afternoon. The sun and the clouds cast shadows that skate over the city’s treetops. You can see steeples, watertowers, the gridbacks of billboards and coral rooves rising from the greenery and your view is dominated by the sky striated by six sets of railway wires. Your eyes itch. Your eyes have itched for weeks. Not-scratching is your summer hobby and you may finally be getting good at it until you fail completely a handful of times a day. You are sipping seltzer with lime because you’ll take any excuse to feel lime’s clean bite. It reminds you of handsome grownups when you were very small. The air over the city seems very white, as if the sunlight’s summer yellowness failed to fall all the way here. It is somewhere, but it’s not here.

Summer is wonderful. You wish it would never end. If you have one fantasy it is to live in a place where you can step out your back door all year round, inhale deeply the green, spiny plant smell and pick a ripe tomato, warm with the afternoon sun. More than anything else you can imagine, this is happiness. When you’re a shrivelled old bird in the strip club business with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of scotch in the other, you hope it’s in a zip code closer to the Equator, where the outlandish nights are balanced by tranquil sunny afternoons.

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Most people leave behind the books of their childhood. The first book I remember picking out for myself was collage artist Leo Lionni’s Frederick. All characters in the book are mice living a hardscrabble existence in a rock wall. Most of the mice gather nuts and seeds diligently for the winter. One mouse saves smells and sensations for darkest winter and gives this sustenance to his fellows when they need it most. It is probably the most important book of my life. And when I read unbearably cruel stories about the unimaginable savagery human beings unleash upon one another, I try to create for myself the hope that someday all people will matter in just societies, and everyone can pick his and her own ripe, luscious tomatoes.

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