What You Miss the Most

I have decided that I will no longer play matchmaker for Johnny and the Rhino. I am too selfish for it and I want the Jennie all to myself.

It is with a heavy heart that I leave New York. You’d think it would be leavening that I am going to visit my family for more than a week—a King’s Ransom of time these days—but as happy as I am about it, that’s a different kind of happy and doesn’t seem to balance the sad that I feel in leaving Michael and Jennie, Bill and Edgar, Walt, Michael, Byrne, Sara, Joe, Eric.

This time in New York was different. This time I felt somewhat at home. As if I could live here. Ironic, given that Mikey is moving back to San Francisco on the same day that I return there. There’s a desperation in how much I miss Bill & Edgar and a sweet timeless quality to time spent with Jennie (or, “J’Po” as the kids seem to be calling her these days).

It’s not often in real time that you recognize those moments you know you’ll remember forever. I had an entire weekend full of them! What do you in the aftermath of that? I’ll answer my own question: I guess one just endures it and remembers that the return to Home may bring even better times—and soon.

I am out of sorts, morose. I want everyone here and now, local to me. I want my loved ones back. The world is full of people of dignity and we gather only a few to us, sips from the torrent. Too many people for too open a person. It’s not about being crowded out, for me, but mixed in. Immersed in so many different particular flows of humanity in places with familiar names: Harlem, Chelsea, Midtown, The Village. I am alternately too white and then too mundane, eyes too much like jewels and then skin too pallid.

With the humility of a guest I trudged the neighborhoods at all hours of the day and night, not in fear but in a wariness that comes from unsure footing. I do not impose myself on here and there, but rather let it wash over me, around me. Through me. And take those things with me that are accessible to a whiteboy hippie from San Francisco, a backwoods boy from the sticks of northeastern Pennsylvania. Sometimes that ain’t much. And other times I swoon with it.

Waves of people sweep through the streets; the time and tide of humanity amble past a coffeehouse window and a quarter hour is all it takes to lose perspective, for the numbers to become so large you can only understand it in terms of analogy or statistics. But the soul’s first language was never mathematics, and your grasp on sheer number loses its purchase at the mere thought of each individual and the life he or she leads, the thousand things she thinks about, the worries of her day, how joyous she feels in this glorious weather or how beaten down she is by the events of her past year.

The only conclusion is this: we are each more similar than different. This is not an insult or belittlement, but an acknowledgment that what may emerge from us all together is the only god we’ve ever needed: humanity’s collective reflection in the waters of the world.

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