new zip code


I remember a part of Catherine's worm when she first moved to SF: "I went to pickup soccer in Berkeley. I was there kicking the ball with random Berkeley people and had this moment where I wondered how in the world I ended up here. How am I just here with these people i dont know playing soccer and getting dinner and just being. It felt like I had put on someone else's shoes and just stepped into their life." I keep thinking about that last line, like earlier tonight when walking home from the subway after watching Tar at BAM with Claudia and Georgia, or yesterday when walking to the Duane Reade on Nostrand and Myrtle to buy menstrual discs. This is just my life now, the brown tiles of the Nostrand stop, this apartment that already feels like home even as our living room remains suspended in a limbo of unpacked boxes and disassembled furniture. Like Ben Lerner's 10:04 narrator, I feel that the world has rearranged itself around me. I feel this way while knowing that nothing outside has actually changed, it's just that I'm no longer a witness to the things that used to color my everyday life, and instead those particularities have been swiftly replaced by a set of new ones: the oak tree outside my window, the weird holiday decorations on Fulton, the silence at night. These details were exchanged so frictionlessly that everything feels dreamlike, like I'm on vacation from real life. As a result, the boundary between my mind and the external world feels thin and porous, and my social interactions feel spontaneous, easy, like my responses to what others say are being formed purely via reflex. Last week I had wondered whether the transition from fall to winter was finally complete--in the winter daylight, colors appear a few degrees colder--but as I took a detour through Boerum Hill today on my way to Claudia's, it still looked like fall. I read on her stoop as I waited for her to return from her run, my face warm from the beams of direct afternoon sun. Later I found out I had missed an important meeting at work. Yesterday I went on a date and slept with a bartender/server from Soda Club, where Annie and I had had dinner on Sunday night. The date was superfluous because I had already decided that I was going to sleep with him, and as midnight (the time we were supposed to meet at a bar five blocks down) approached I wondered if I should just skip the whole thing and invite him directly to the apartment. The date itself was fine insofar as conversation flowed easily, but by the half hour mark I had tired of this aspiring 31-year-old actor who spoke with the borderline-smarmy performativity of a theater kid. As we sat next to each other at this bar that supposedly had "the best bathroom in NYC", "The Shining meets disco lighting" (I later went to the bathroom just to look, it was literally fine...), his knee occasionally nudged my leg with such obvious pretense, and when we moved to a dive bar across the street after the first bar closed, I started taking tequila shots in the hopes that I would get drunk enough to stop noticing all the things about him I found unattractive, such as: - saying shit like "live music is the ultimate expression of theater" - our cringey discussion of Triangle of Sadness that I reflexively imagined eavesdropping on and making fun of as a bystander - being 31 and trying to flatter a 25 year old by telling them that they're smart Two minutes into our hookup I thought of how Claudia and I had joked about my being a "threesome loser" and wondered if maybe I was at the beginning of a general "sex loser" streak. Men look so stupid during sex when it's someone you've decided you dislike/don't respect, they get these heavy eyelids that are easy to ridicule when your repulsion makes you feel like a bystander to your own physical form. I hated seeing the details of an aging body and thought sadly, multiple times, of previous sexual partners I'd actually liked, whose bodies I'd had no criticisms of because I'd enjoyed spending time with the people inhabiting them. When the ordeal was over I squinted repeatedly at my watch as the edible we took at the second bar hit and made it difficult to read the analog clock face. "Alright, I get the message," he said, and I happily rose from my bed to escort him to the front door. Ten minutes after his departure, stoned out of my mind, I stared at Aubrey Plaza's latest Instagram post and was reminded of when Angie joked about how her younger, closeted self had thought it was normal to be thinking about laundry when making out with guys. Maybe I'm gay, I thought, ....or maybe I'm just really stoned. It's difficult to interact sexually with men over thirty who employ performative social mannerisms without feeling like they're applying some logic of grooming. Whether they're doing this consciously or not is irrelevant to this sensation; because the conversations feel so artificial, you're left with the bitter taste of the narrative of their successful conquest, even if you went through the whole thing clear-eyed and dissociated. I was disgusted when the guy from last night told me that I was smart--it was so contrived given the intent: to sleep with me. This compliment was delivered with the confidence of someone who believed they were being suave, who thought that the appeal to some deeper quality such as intellect would impress me and strengthen my attraction, and the dissonance between this assumption and my revulsion only bolstered my disgust with him and the whole situation. I was reminded of this when watching Tar, the ways in which youth as an asset only amasses power when wielded by someone who is both aware of its currency and secure enough in themselves to remain emotionally unswayed by the validation being doled out by those older. Yet the nature of youth is that it is often accompanied by uncertainty about one's identity and likability. Moving this time feels so different than when Catherine and I U-hauled our belongings from our narrow, dark apartment on 18th and 2nd to the funeral home. That had immediately felt like a momentous change, a decision we made as people who had now actually lived in NYC and were starting to figure out the contours of the lives we wanted. We moved after weeks of looking at apartments in the sweaty, covid-ridden summer, walking to the LES to see places on Orchard or Allen, Catherine sometimes sitting on the sidewalk out of exhaustion as we waited for an agent to arrive. Later, after signing our new lease, we rode our bikes home in the empty, covid-ridden streets and knew that this moment would never happen again, at least not for a long time. Union Square East would soon return to its pre-covid traffic patterns, and consciously recognizing the scarcity of that moment as we were experiencing it in turn made life feel wider and more full of possibilities. "Out on my skateboard and the night is just humming..."