alien observer

2022-07-20  egg

7/12 - 7/15 Olive and I spontaneously got drinks at Bandits when she landed from St. Barth's on the night before I flew out. It was my first time leaving the house all day, and we stood on the checkered floor under the revolving disco ball yelling at each other before we gave up and decided to leave and walk around the West Village. Olive's yawns began to increase in frequency, and we languidly made our way to the Citibike dock near my apartment so she could bike home. As we waited to cross 7th Ave. near Marie's Crisis Cafe I had the bewildering feeling again of having not been in NYC in a long time, had to remind myself that I had spent most of the previous two weeks in the city. Several days before when walking home from the subway I had wondered whether I was feeling out of sorts because of the weird, disjoint weather. The flip to hot and sticky had been belated and anticlimactic; it was already July, and I felt that I had been plopped into summer without any prefacing crescendo into what I had expected to be a fun, buzzy time. The streets around my apartment were empty except for loved-up couples and homeless people. I passed by a blonde 20-ish-looking pair making out in the shadows against the Minetta community garden, and even though they both looked basic and 6th Ave. is too ugly for PDA to be sexy or romantic I judged them less harshly than I normally would. Traveling in France in particular makes me aware of my anxiety in an unpleasant way, a little similar to how I feel in NYC except in New York I'm reflexively comparing myself to everyone else whereas in France I just feel generally self-conscious, like people are ready to mock anything I do. It also joins with my logistics-related anxiety in the dumbest way, like if I take three steps past a storefront it feels too late to double back and enter, etc., and then I mentally berate myself for talking myself out of following through on the impulse. Paris was pretty dead on Thursday, I guess because of Bastille Day. I had my sunglasses on and Airpods in, which made everything--the sunlight, the noise--muted and slightly unreal. At a bakery I eschewed the fancier pastries for a croissant and a cappuccino, ordered in mangled French. I was parched and they had no cold beverages and I thought maybe despite the bright and unwavering sunshine that it wouldn't be so bad, I vaguely recalled Marie telling me in college that when you're hot it's actually better to drink a warm beverage than a cool one. When I sat down on one of the benches outside I asked the hip German couple sitting to my left for a lighter and they responded in flawless English, depressing me, and I smoked half a Marlboro Light with my back hunched awkwardly, glaring at the empty streets before me. My mouth was feeling dryer by the second, Marie's trivia now debunked. I decided to go to the Rodin Museum and hopped on the Metro. Late afternoon light poured in through the train windows, Grouper was playing in my headphones, and I was dazed at how ethereal it all was for a moment, feeling like I was in a movie and then feeling dumb about that thought. Sometimes I wonder if all the movies I watch are just ruining my ability to process things in an unmediated fashion such that I'm only able to articulate my real life sensory experiences in relation or with reference to the images/videos I've consumed. I was so happy to be in this city I had so much history with and recalled when I'd gone to visit Jim Morrison's grave the summer before senior year and thought about that line by Jenny Zhang - being a cliche is dumb but it feels nice sometimes. Took the train from Gare de Lyon to Nice, had to ask multiple people in apologetic English where my train car was. We emerged from a tunnel twenty minutes outside Paris and found ourselves already in the French countryside, sunflower fields and hills of tan dead grass and dark green trees, Matisse hadn't been making any of it up. The girl sitting across from me took out a Kleenex and poured some water from her bottle to delicately dab her forehead and her nose, already seeming so self-possessed despite being only around fourteen. As the train pivoted and started making its way eastward along the Mediterranean coast towards Nice, I stared blankly out the window at the sea and the pale rocky beaches. Zack met me at the Nice-Ville train station and we walked down the street to his Airbnb. Instantly I felt the comfort of another English-speaker's company shielding me from the surrounding stern French demeanors. We opened up a couple bottles of wine at the apartment before getting dinner in the old town, where everything was booked up, crowded, serving mostly pizza and pasta? We ambled along until we found a restaurant where Zack saw there was duck on the menu. He got an aperol spritz, his "new thing" after his four-day trip to Genoa. It took forever to pay the bill and leave, and we walked back to the Airbnb along the beachfront then through the "main drag" of Jean Medecin. My legs were heavy from the wine and I was relieved when we reached the air-conditioned bliss of the apartment. We sat, slumped, on the couch and continued catching up until midnight then bid goodnight. "I feel like you've always seen me at these weird existential times of my life," he confessed. It had been so long since we'd seen each other and we don't text very often and it made me feel a little strange and parasitic being there, like it didn't totally make sense. Even so, as I curled up on the couch with my feet pushed up against the cushions leaning on Zack's side, I felt tender and grateful towards him, two gals gossiping about boys and work and boys.