and you in your autumn sweater


The more you find yourself reflecting on your feelings, the more you know you’re going through it. Last week I made a Co-star, consulted it every day, and got a tarot reading at the barter-based art show at Vanessa’s studio. The gist of my reading was: you’re depressed. Joe and I have been taking walks every Monday morning, meeting somewhere in the block and a half between our apartments before getting coffee at Stumptown and doing a lap around Washington Square Park. How many times do you have to do something for it to have the feeling of a habit? We have only done this twice, on consecutive Mondays, but already the rhythm has seeped into my narrative of my final chapter above the funeral home. On this past Monday, which was unseasonably warm, seventy degrees, we sat in the park and leapt between Disney movies and our respective weekends. I had mentioned Costar when in line at Stumptown, and when I brought up the tarot reading, Joe interjected, “You’re really going through it, aren’t you?” While our conversation lingered on whether I was sufficiently depressed to watch and appreciate Evangelion, a cluster of elm trees across the path gave up a beam of yellow leaves to the breeze, and we watched as they billowed to the ground. The beauty was disorienting, the scenery was too picturesque somehow, like we had been transported into some dystopian future where we were all forced to live in a simulation to numb ourselves to the ongoing disaster of the world. Like the soft-color-palette, alienated urbanity of Her or the too-perfect, retro veneer of the (spoiler) alternate reality in Don’t Worry Darling. We kept referencing other media, unable to take things in for what they were. A man and his dog chatted with us for awhile. Tara the dog nuzzled my leg when she approached with the same force and motion as Cecilia when I’m taking off my shoes at Pau and Eric’s apartment, and I scratched her head as she panted happily at my feet. A group of pigeons who were evidently cosplaying as swallows for the day swooped from tree to tree around the park with unusual grace. “What the hell is going on?” Joe asked. I am lying on the gray futon in our Airbnb, underneath a Casper comforter, my head on a Casper pillow. The person who furnished this apartment is clearly wealthy, or at least they decided it was worth shelling out the money to decorate this place entirely with bougie DTC brands like Parachute and Quiet Town. The towels in our gigantic bathroom are the same salmon color as the sidewalk in Sedona, which is the same color as the rock formations that lumber towards the sky everywhere you look. Taking in all the tasteful browns and greens of the houses and churches along the highway, I wonder whether there is some city law that regulates the color palette or architectural style of the buildings here. The houses remind me of the Fremont Hills tract that my parents’ home belongs to; asymmetrical and triangular and a little weird, but in a way that was clearly meant to maximize natural light, let into the home via skylights or circular upper-story windows. Here, such homes are not part of a cookie cutter housing development where every fifth house looks the same. Before we entered the Red Rock region, Cora and I had wondered what it would be like to grow up in a small but not-remote town surrounded by such intense natural beauty as Sedona—how would such extreme material proof of nature’s power and the culture of New Age mysticism shape you? Earlier in the day, we had stopped at Montezuma Castle, where we were surprised by the existence of trees in peak autumn foliage in the desert. It turns out they were sycamore trees; I hadn’t clocked them as such because their branches were so luminously white, unblemished, unlike their cousins in NYC. Later as we walked the small loop along the monument and its nearby creek, I pressed my hand against one of their trunks, felt the sinewy, smoothed grain underneath my palm, traced the outlines of the sage and olive splotches. Some parts of the path were blocked off due to an ongoing revegetation project, an attempt to recover some of the plant species that had been lost to years of flooding and high foot traffic and I guess general neglect. Revegetation is a declaration of hope. Seeing the swaths of creek bed blocked off by caution tape reminded me of when Xander and I took a walk through Prospect Park last fall and he told me about how NYC used to be home to one of the most fertile oyster ecosystems (in the world? In the country at least?) before the settling and colonization and globalization killed most of them, and how this organization is now collecting discarded oyster shells from restaurants to re-seed oyster beds in the waterways surrounding the city. This made sense intuitively before we realized we didn’t understand the mechanisms of how a discarded (i.e. empty and dead?) oyster could be used to create new oyster life. As he told me this, we were walking through the wooded part of Prospect Park, which is apparently the last remaining patch of the sprawling forest that used to be Brooklyn before it was settled by the Dutch. Today Cora and I accidentally found ourselves in the middle of a three mile loop around Airport Mesa, racing the sunset to get back to the trailhead. We had dawdled too much in the beginning, stopping every couple minutes to take photos of the landscape. I kept thinking about Pau’s mantra of “living like you’re in the seventies” and felt like an idiot walking with my phone in hand, pocketed it and instead tried to imprint the moment into my brain, recalling the mental image every couple seconds to compare it against the valley to my left to see what I’d missed. We stumbled out of the trail and to our car just as it got dark. It wasn’t until we got to Whole Foods ten minutes later that we realized we had forgotten to say thank you.