I have been finding it hard to write because I have been trying to enjoy how good things are where I am right now. The subtext is that I have been trying to enjoy the good things instead of writing about them, because the overwhelming majority of things going on are uncertain if not terrifying. There are some great things in the place where I am right now. I am drinking a beer that is brewed with earl grey tea and coriander, and the sun is starting to dip under the balcony over mine. I have my music on and my yellow Vans are lit up in the sun. I’m turning away from the fear I feel ninety-nine percent of the time to write about how I am actually doing, and the act of doing that is in fact great. 

Every time I come out on this balcony to write, I look out over a couple of trees next to my apartment building. Their leaves blend into the leaves from the trees overhanging the subway. Being between Flatbush Ave and the subway, my balcony becomes a wind tunnel as the Q train passes us by (the B train hasn’t come for weeks). I’ve thought about tracking how often trains pass the apartment, so I can try and prove my overly romantic theory about how trains only pass each other in front of my building, and are otherwise vessels of solitude on a concrete-lined outdoor track. I could go and watch the platform clocks count down arrivals if I wanted to, but it wouldn’t be the same. The buildings on the other side of the train have rusted fire escapes instead of concrete-floored balconies like mine. Right now, I can see someone on one of the fire escapes in a coral-colored jumpsuit with a cigarette, on the phone, their head at a bored tilt.

Yesterday Tyler and I walked around the neighborhood in the late afternoon. The quiet of my early rise yesterday carried itself through to the afternoon and the morning’s grey sky shrouded me in the sense of sleeplessness that makes drifting off into an afternoon nap effortless. When I woke up from my nap, the sun had come out, and with it every person finishing their work-from-home week or deciding that it was the perfect time to take the dogs or the kids for a walk. Late afternoon sunlight always makes me think of the same things: walking through thick Virginia woods when I went to sleepaway camp; forested walks I’ve taken with my family in the years since I’ve moved to New York; photographing memories of green things when I return from anywhere I go. Tyler has been walking less than I have lately, but when I go to Prospect Park alone, I find paths that allow me to get lost among the trees, if only for a moment. Walking with him is one of my favorite things to do; before the virus we would go on long walks together just for the hell of it. 

The stretch of the park near our apartment bustled with activity, and so did the park-adjacent fields at the circle near Parkside and Coney Island Ave, so we decided to go through the neighborhood on the way home. We walked along Caton and Church Avenues and their side streets, pointing out the gorgeous architecture of the older houses, lamenting the addition of every unsightly apartment complex. We held hands when it wasn’t too warm or too crowded on the sidewalk. My chief complaint about wearing a face mask (besides spending the whole time I’m outdoors smelling whatever I’ve just eaten) is that the condensation from my breath collects under my mask. If I spend any time exerting myself while wearing my mask I can feel sweat literally drip down my face. When I take it off, the skin of my cheeks is oddly velvety to the touch, if not a little clammy. It goes without saying that the masks impede regular breathing. Even though Tyler has mostly recovered from his COVID symptoms, his complaints of dizziness and breathlessness after a walk make perfect sense to me, because while I’ve had no COVID symptoms, I too have trouble breathing with the mask. That said, we see plenty of people without masks, and we both agree that it’s a better idea to wear the mask.

I had made a familiar neighborhood of Lefferts Gardens before I knew Tyler, long before I considered moving in with him. In the past four years I had gone on a couple of dates (with different people) at the bar that is now around the corner from us, the place where I texted my sister that I loved Tyler before I even told him. It confounds me that this is the apartment I fell asleep in the night after I found out my mom was sick, almost nine months ago, and it further confounds me that I have barely left this apartment for almost seven full weeks. On a Facetime call with my sisters I posit that the percentage of work that is now being done from home, and the reliance upon delivery services and remote access to other resources, are what will turn us into the Earthlings from “WALL-E,” bodies hovering on a spaceship, barely sentient beings. Every time I take a walk I feel like I am stamping that out defiantly, even if my face sweats in the process. 

As I finish my beer I’m thinking about the passage of time and how completely absurd this year as been. When the virus ends, over 10,000 New Yorkers will have died (right now, about a sixth of the death toll in the US), and over 30 million people in the US will be unemployed. I have opened a new beer and am considering taking a nap on my balcony, or just lying in the sun with my eyes closed. I am lucky that the person I am with in self-quarantine is a partner and a friend, and someone who, after all of this is over, just wants to lie down in a big field of grass, which is all I ever want. There are no certainties right now, when the situation in my community, my country, my planet, is as dire as it is, but knowing there are some things I can count on and look forward to has been enough to keep me going. 

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