It’s raining faintly, the kind of rain that’s just wet enough you think you need an umbrella but also the kind that when you put the umbrella up the wind grabs it and turns it inside out so really it’s better to get barely wet with no umbrella than think you’ll stay dry through the struggle. I once lost an umbrella this way—it flew away. Someone could have gotten hurt.
Yesterday was my last half-day Friday at work until next summer. I cut out on time, even five minutes early, and went to my writing spot to work on this chapter I’m stuck on. An entire afternoon was spent facing one sentence. I couldn’t make it past the one sentence, and the day ended upon giving up, feeling like a complete-and-total failure, and knowing the book is due in a month and I am s-c-r-e-w-e-d if I don’t step it up. But I didn’t want to think about that then; we almost went to a movie. Then we didn’t go to a movie and instead rented one at home and I read my copy of Vogue because it is too heavy to carry outside the apartment. I’d like to think that yesterday never happened.
This morning I woke up on time, a miracle. I washed my hair. I walked through the rain mentioned above using an umbrella for one block, taking it down at the next block, putting it back up because I was too wet, then down again, because what was the point? A cop cruiser pulled up alongside me and I felt panic for no reason. They had a loudspeaker on saying: Wake up! Wake up! I realized they weren’t talking to me and so looked to my right, to the doorway of a church where a man had crashed with his pants down around his knees. He slept curled up on his stomach, exposed out toward the street. I got a very graphic view. It made me upset. When did the man lose hold of his pants, and what happened the whole night he slept like that? I was worried for him. He wasn’t responding to the loudspeaker so one of the cops jumped out and tapped the man with his shoe. “Buddy, it’s time to get up. Buddy, buddy, buddy, get up.” The man finally got up. “I’m up,” he said, like it was his mom waking him for the school bus. I kept walking. But I held it in, mulling it over. Don’t you do that when you find a broken man asleep on the street with no pants? You think: what is wrong with ME, to be so unsatisfied when I have my pants and a place to sleep out of the rain? And beneath the construction overpass three people with nowhere to go have built a living room with plastic tarps and discarded furniture, and the radio is on, and they have three different kinds of coffee tables, arranged shoved up together so they can put their feet up, but for now they sleep, and the radio blares, and I feel like I’m peeking into the window of someone’s apartment. How long will they get to keep their living room before the cops make them move? And I’m thinking this. And I’m upstairs soon after, dry even though the cuffs of my pants are wet from dragging through the wet sidewalks, even though my socks are maybe a little wet by the toe. When I look out the window at the city now, the skyline is shrouded in blue, misty fog. The top of the Empire State Building is missing. The city looks smaller like this, the view stopping so much sooner than it usually does. The fog is closing in.