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POV: Waves.

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. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV focuses on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.

Weeks ago on a Friday, I took a bus out of the city to visit Emily, who’s rented a house upstate for the summer. My journey to the station was a mess of near-misses that began with a mad dash through Chinatown in midsummer heat and ended with a six-stop subway ride that deposited me at Port Authority moments before my bus was scheduled to leave. I jumped aboard as the door was closing; my seat was the last available.

Five hours later, I arrived in Emily’s town, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hamlet in the Catskills. She picked me up outside a convenience store in a rattling Jeep, and we drove another twenty minutes to the house in stock-still darkness. I could see it as we approached from a distance, its many windows glowing amber. Inside, I marveled at its halls and wooden staircases, its permissive size that allowed for art, music, cooking, apartment-weary visitors.

We had dinner at midnight; then, before bed, a tiny canele each. Emily ate hers from the center of an enormous dinner plate. For a moment, I thought I knew what she must have looked like as a child.

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In the morning, I saw where I was in daylight, my windows in the upstairs guest room revealing a rolling hay field, a parked tractor, and a stone wall giving way to a path that led, presumably, to a river. When did I become old enough, I wondered, to visit friends who live in houses?

We spent the morning on the porch, discussing books and baking and the needs of assorted house plants. When we weren’t talking, we were reading or staring drowsily into space, absorbed in the quenching sort of silence shared between those who know each other well. I met Emily when I was 24, ages ago. Then, I remember, I was afraid of things like this—of space and solitude and too much time to think. But many things have happened since: people have come and gone. So have jobs, apartments, neighborhoods. Fears and anxieties that once may have been debilitating have dulled, so that all that’s left now is the ability to admire their strangeness. Change is not so scary—everything, encouragingly, occurring in waves.

And if there’s been a prevailing comfort to growing older, it’s the joy of watching friends do it, too. I realize, looking back, I’ve never been alone.

Earlier this summer, I sat with Megan—with whom I once planned a lifetime—in a park in Chinatown. We talked about writing, our families in California, the startling pace at which the year has passed. We watched as giant rats zigzagged between the bars of the park’s iron gates. We don’t see each other as much as we once did; when we do, there’s always a lot to say.

The sun went down. It was a Friday night, but we didn’t discuss any activities ahead. “I just want to be present,” Megan said. “Here with you and the rats.”


I turned 31 on Monday the 8th, an occasion I observed with a week’s vacation that ended in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a small town home to an annual music festival at which I’d made plans to meet someone. But due to Delta Airline’s global computer glitch, which occurred that week, I spent many hours in transit, wandering vast stretches of various airports alone. I arrived Friday morning in Minneapolis, a day later than planned, only to find that the shuttles to Wisconsin were booked.

Stuffing my things into the backseat of a rental car, I drove instead, spending the better portion of 90 minutes hurtling through colossal stretches of emerald-green farmland. Buoyed by a sense of adventure—spurred by the sudden change of scenery and, perhaps, by travel delirium—I forgot my aloneness. 

That afternoon at the festival, I sat by myself in the grass between sets, watching groups of people pass and remembering a time when similar circumstances would have made me self-conscious. Here, I felt unbothered, entirely visible and altogether not.

No one seemed to notice when I stood, grass-stained and dirt-smudged—no one except a figure in the distance, his arm in the air, waving.

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You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much, as always, for reading. 
 

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