If you hate stream of consciousness posts, you might want to skip ahead. Don't worry, I don't do this often. And I'm not depressed. Just in a melancholy mood.
I'm home tonight because my liver needs a break. I can't go out, down a gallon of vodka tonics and do the same the next night. I'm not 15 any more. Plus, I drank a few beers the two previous nights and I'm a little afraid of making a habit out of it.
The post-drinking lethargy gives me a lot of time to think. I do that too much, the thinking I mean. I probably don't drink often enough for someone at my life stage. It doesn't help that I realize I'd left my computer at home only after I am at the coffee shop and have my cup (medium, not grande), so I can't surf or instant message as I'd intended. I try reading but that doesn't work. With nothing else to do, I watch out the window, what with the beautiful weather bringing everyone outside.
On the sidewalk, two overexcited dogs play, causing golden brown fur to fly up. A puppy is tied to the window railing of the restaurant across the street while the owners eat inside and occasionally hand scraps. A photographer sits a few feet away, patiently waiting for the puppy to assume a pose. This scene, the photographer and the puppy, would make a great photograph given the lighting, angle and framing, except my camera's in the shop.
I notice more snap-worthy moments now that I can't photograph them. To know that I missed an opportunity to capture a scene that will never repeat itself is, in a small way, heartbreaking. I still remember certain events that I wish I had photographed from more than a year ago. I am a pack rat of memories. Photography has the power to give permanence to the fleeting and beauty to the mundane - that ain't nothing to scoff at.
Then I remember that I have now been single for more than two months. I'm sure everyone goes through this, but I miss being with a girlfriend as much as I do the girlfriend herself. It's the little things that I didn't necessarily take for granted, but didn't think would matter so much either. Sitting on her couch reading The Sunday New York Times. Bringing back coffee and breakfast buns for two. Sitting in the same coffee shop I'm in now, but having her distract me from my book with smiles, scribbles and sweet nothings. These things leave the gaping holes in my psyche and weekend afternoons. I'm not a big events guy, more a little episodes guy. In the whole scheme of things, the trivial matters as much as, if not more than the epic. The latter sets the course while the former does the paddling.
All the navel gazing gets to be too much and I go out for a bike ride. It's the closest thing to therapy without an hourly fee or the need for a partner. I ride on Manhattan Bridge to DUMBO (seeing more photo-worthy material on the way), silently apologizing to my future children for the damage done by the cobblestone streets and finding the colors to be completely different from the last time I rode through the neighborhood.
I go back over the bridge, ride down along the East River, around the lower tip of Manhattan and onto the more crowded but better maintained West Side bike path. After I'm sufficiently tired, I get off the path and take a more direct route back to my apartment. If you live on Manhattan, you need a bicycle. Seriously. I can't think of a better way to explore the different neighborhoods. At the very least, you'll get stronger carrying your bike up and down a walk-up.
And I've come to a conclusion. To maintain a semblance of sanity, I need (besides the bloody obvious necessities of life) my camera, my bicycle and a girlfriend (or a potential one). There was a point in my life when I had none of the above - I'm not sure how I survived, really. Well, I had more friends that I hung out with back then, but the majority either moved out of the city or lost contact.
Tomorrow's a new day, Ralph Waldo Emerson claims. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end, a crappy band from Minnesota once sang. That would make me happy. Let's hope they're right.