September 1, 2020 – from talking on the phone with a woman who works at the bank

tree trunk
self portrait

Since when Peter and I were approved as new tenants for an apartment in Queens, I’ve slipped myself into a muddy fugue of superficial relief and ineffective distraction. Different from my frenzied and angry and uncertain, this is a pitying indulgence: the reliable routine I’ve developed from the third floor of Peter’s parents’ house where he and I are still passing time—12 more days—to save a little more on rent that we don’t have to start paying now until mid-September.


I sleep until 10 almost every day. I scroll Twitter, listen to the news, take various showers. I despair inordinately. Lash out, embarrassingly. I wake up in the night worried about where the trees are, wondering how I’ll get to them again once I’ve moved onto an unfamiliar city street.


I hold down my day job, telling myself that pocketing half a month of what it costs to live is worth whatever the emotional cost when the other measure is American dollars. I’ll be paying 30 of them per day to live inside a one-bedroom walkup and I’m in it for the year. This year. I don’t have to tell you how everyone is dying and that I can’t conjure up enough gratitude for those of us that aren’t.


(We’re starting to question what we’re living for.)


I haven’t tried to find out if eternities exist inside our separately shared hours of staticky pain because I’ve busied myself ordering various wooden things instead. My inbox filled with order confirmations for stirring spoons, eating spoons, bowls, a bread knife, and a long plank of wood I’ll fit between two walls to make a desk. Until I received a message reading of a credit card error, that one of my purchases hadn’t gone through.


I called my bank to find out I’d been using the wrong billing address and the person who told me sounded too happy to say it. She asked me all the addresses it could be because she couldn’t tell me what her records showed and I tried to remember five sets of street names and their accompanying zip codes. Then she said I should just read what was in my online profile.


I’ve moved six times since 2016 and this year has aged my face the most. But how was I to tell her?


I was desperate for old and fine-grained things that’d tried their best to stay.