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POV: Presence.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories. 


I spent a recent weekend at a cabin upstate with a group of friends (it was the same cabin, as it happens, that I wrote about last year, with the cicadas, and the indoor soccer, and the haunted house, and the 24 hours of perfect moments).

This year, we spent Sunday afternoon - which was clear and bright and warm - in the front yard, barefoot, half-asleep. The day before we'd worn sweaters; today, we found ourselves squinting in the sunlight, the grass parched beneath our feet. The sun burned our shoulders. Flocks of birds gathered en masse overhead. We stared. Awe-struck, we wondered when it had become summer.
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There’s something about the New York City humidity that causes me, in very real and very inconvenient ways, to lose my mind. I find it hard to focus. I’m easily distracted. I’m scatterbrained. I cram too much into every day, or else I do nothing at all.

These are difficult problems to confront as a freelancer, as someone who manages her own work schedule, as an inhabitant of a city that moves at bewildering speeds.

It’s a challenge as a writer, as well, to stay present - to hear stories, to remember conversations, to recognize characters, to appreciate sensations: sights and smells, the heat of a 90-degree afternoon.

Two nights ago, it rained. There was lightning, I’m told, and thunder. But even though I’d been sitting perched on a stool next to my third-floor window, typing away on my laptop for hours, I hadn’t noticed. It was only when I got up to close the curtains before bed that I realized the streets were wet, that the books stacked on the sill were soaked.
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Emily and I met for lunch last week, on a hot day on the Lower East Side. She had a plane to catch that night; I was coming from breakfast in Brooklyn and had a pile of work awaiting me at home that evening.

Still, after lunch, we strolled. We took photos, talked with strangers sitting on benches outside barber shops. Emily tried on a dress. Our faces grew pink in the sun. 

“Let’s get ice cream,” Emily suggested, and we did. Her friend had just opened a new shop on Rivington, and when we walked in, he greeted her warmly. We took seats at the bright white bar. “How can I help you?” asked our host.

Forty minutes later, we’d sampled half a dozen flavors, including four full-sized scoops. I kept notes so I wouldn’t forget: pine nut with salt and pepper; Aperol sorbet; Vietnamese coffee with a glistening river of condensed milk. There was burnt honey vanilla. Cardamom lemon jam. Black licorice, which I was sure I’d hate, but devoured in seconds.

We amassed a small mountain of tiny plastic spoons in the bottoms of our cups. “Can you believe,” I said, “with everything we have to do today, we’re doing this?”

“I’m glad we are,” she said.

I took a last bite. It was a flavor made with raw milk, and my new friend behind the counter had informed me that despite being frozen, it would taste scalded. 

This was a strange concept. I ate, and thought. I closed my eyes. I lost myself in the act of tasting, which, for a moment, seemed to require my full attention.

“Are you getting it?” Emily asked.

I looked up. Dropped the spoon in our pile. Yes, I said, I was.
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You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, here. Thank you so much, as always, for your support. Photo via my Instagram.
 

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