We had no idea what we were doing when we moved to New York. I don’t even think we knew why we wanted to move there, except it seemed like something we were supposed to do. We found an exorbitantly overpriced apartment in Brooklyn and I drove my father’s truck into the city with Amanda in the front seat, navigating. Behind us, my father drove the moving van. I packed too much; Amanda packed too little; Hillary fell somewhere in the middle. I’ve always admired that about Amanda, though:her detachment from physical possessions. When her entire apartment in Boston flooded, she mourned the destruction of her things for about ten minutes and then I watched her throw everything away.
That first apartment was a disaster. When it rained the water poured in through the back door. We had four air conditioners and one remote to share between us. It was impossible to keep clean. It was cold and almost sterile and only in the rarest, best of moments did it feel like it belonged to us.
But it was ours, I guess, for a while. We drank wine and listened to my records in the living room. We slept in each other’s beds and we walked to Prospect Park and once in the middle of the night I woke up to Amanda’s boyfriend trying to get in through the balcony door.
We tried to call you, he explained.
I sleep with my phone on silent.
It took six months in New York before I realized what I was doing there. I’d taken Amanda’s dog for a walk. It was almost too cold and the park was empty. We sat in a gazebo by the water and he lay under my feet as I just sat and shook my head for a full half hour. We didn’t leave until it was dark. On the way back, a helicopter flew over my head. I couldn’t wait until I left; I couldn’t wait until I figured out where I wanted to go next.
Nobody was home at the apartment. I fed Archie. I sat on the couch. I wrote something about the untapped reserves of power in all of us, &c, &c, blah and blah, and for the first time I went to sleep feeling like I had given something to the city, the city had given something to me, something had passed between us and from now on things were going to be a little different.
They were different, yes. Things were better. Things were slowly slowly coming into focus and my eyes were slowly slowly blinking away all the cobwebs of my early twenties. Those years: they can be awful. But they are also important. And as I realized that day- they have a place. Hate them, despise them, leave them behind. But you have to trudge through them until you get to the other side.
In New York, in that first apartment, I got to the other side of my early twenties.
In Scotland, I got to the other side of my mid twenties.
Somewhere far from here, somewhere I don’t know yet, I’ll turn thirty. And these years will be gone then, too.
photographs taken with a variety of now-defunct cheap digital cameras.