I almost started this journal off with the phrase, “for the first time in a long time…” — but I realize that’s not quite right. This has been a somewhat gradual process, an accumulation of being with HJ and living in China with not much to do and now being in New York, the city of my dreams since forever, and now being in it in a unique semi-optional but not permanent aloneness way.
Semi-gradually, I’m beginning to truly realize that life is more the day-to-day happy than the long-term happy, and perhaps that the long-term happy doesn’t exist at all; perhaps the long-term happy has always been nothing but something waved in front of me like a goading flag, always whipped away and out of reach as I think I’m charging towards it. And from there, I’m beginning to learn what makes me this kind of day-to-day happy, and furthermore to learn to actively search for what makes me this kind of happy.
I can bike for hours and be truly content. Rivers, the city, the late afternoon light is all somehow more beautiful on a bike. The wind is fresher. The rushing view is exhilarating. And I get the feeling — no, I’m not even aware of the feeling — that there’s nothing more in the world I could desire other than this: not people, not success, not friends, not family. I know this is fleeting, this encompassingly content state, born from a decent enough day of interactions and the security of the temporary solitude and HJ’s worldview, but the ephemeral nature of it doesn’t make it any less real, or any less sublime.
k– 1: exceedingly like SS in his external, no nonsense, hyper self-assurance and rugged, blunt approach and focus on people. I really can’t describe it.
k– 2: generous, gregarious, open, playful, relaxed, content; his lifestyle and self-assuredness in that lifestyle struck me; he was very much a man living outside the expectations of being unhappy and single at his age, and it was refreshing and eye-opening — perhaps his fate was not one to ran away from.
AA: small and nerdy, gregarious and easy-going, open and eager but not desperate in any way; living somewhat year to year, nomadically, developing far more interests that I could ever; he had this internal drive and no need for an external structure to live his life.
MK: gregarious, open, unself-aware, lovably awkward, an amazing background and many quirks; he grew up as an Asian-American kid in the slums of California, joining a gang for survival; somehow still made it to UCLA where he wandered from department to department
B—: slightly loopy homeless man we met at a campsite; strikingly generous, giving us his stove, gas, sugar, and offering us coffee in the morning; talkative and fibbing; I enjoyed trying to pull out his backstory as he spun tale after tale of Hollywood and fame
1/4/17, 2:42pm, sitting in the chair by the screen door in m—-‘s house in s— b—-; WB and JH are in the other room
I am honestly so done with JH, I’m not even reflective right now. I am angry. I am not understanding, and I have no desire to continue this friendship. he is *mean* — meaner than necessary, meaner than anyone’s really been to me since with were all sociopaths in middle school. I don’t see where it’s coming from. it’s immature. it’s petty. it’s ruining my trip. it’s honestly so, so much easier to make this enjoyable for everyone. and WB is of course the silent diplomat, staying uninvolved. but I can’t keep taking these hits anymore in silence, and I’m beginning to lash out, and I hate what this is doing to me.
and so, JH: unless you change, really change — I’m letting go of this friendship. this is that moment I’m making that decision.
and when the time comes I hug first JH and then WB, and he walks behind me and wraps his arms and we prove we are still fluid; he lifts me up and backwards with a huge closed-mouth smile and I squeal, laugh, crinkling my eyes as JH looks on; it’s a pact: somehow both an acknowledgement and a denial of the physical closeness and the end of its meaning; and then he is gone, they are both gone, rendered equal in the growing distance that we know we will always carry, that distance that nullifies, must nullify, any lingering spirit; it is both a curse and a blessing: there is something here, and yet we cannot work, would not have worked; these we both know
1/1/16, 4:58pm, sitting on a large rock at l– c—- looking out at a picturesque sunset
today, we rode in silence. the thing about silence while riding is that it’s difficult to tell what type of silence it is. my silence was a form of rebellion — an anger, an overacceptance of the fact that he is now apparently easily annoyed.
“how much do you think those houses are worth?” he asks. it’s a peace offering that I reject.
“I don’t know.” it’s terse. he is silent.
it mellowed into a thinking silence somewhere along the ride. I wondered how we are still friends, why we are still friends if we no longer seem to vibe. our interactions remind me of JKm: me trying, him shutting down with annoyed mumbles and passive aggression. somewhere along I decide to offer an olive branch — I don’t quite know why now.
“how much do you think *that* house is worth?” I ask.
it’s an easy acceptance, although I don’t know how long it can last when things are so precarious. we’re at a crossroads for sure. hopefully WB will release some tension.
1/6/17, 4:58pm, watching the sunset on a bench on the s—- m—- pier
good day, easy day. perhaps days like these aren’t watershed moments in my life, or at least they don’t seem like it. but these days are deeply good; they’re what we endure the other days to get to experience.
I’m alone and surrounded by happy couples, bantering friends, happy families and dancing kids. buskers are doing their jobs well. the sun set fast and in both mandarin and english I heard two groups of people exclaim “there it goes!”, laugh, smile, touch each other. it feels like a good omen — the two sides of me will be all right.
easy smiles, elbows on the bar of the balcony, shoulder to shoulder with WB on my right and JH on my left. this is how I want to remember this trip.
1/5/17, 12:16pm, sitting outside smart & final in c——
I suppose a lot has happened in the past 12 hours.
JH and I fixed things with a long, mature conversation. things between us are fixed — actually fixed this time. I had *fun*, genuine fun, for the first time the entire trip. I missed this, and it feels good. running away from being tickled, closing our eyes and tapping our bodies in tandem to jazz, eating overly seasoned food as the rain poured outside.
on the other hand, WB and I decided last night to be friends with benefits after another decently long, mature conversation. I wanted it, he wanted it, and it honestly looks like it’s going to work precisely because we have the exact same rationale: we find each other physically attractive, personality-wise attractive, but both would not date the other because of a fundamental difference in values, and secondarily completely opposing life trajectories (location and vocation wise). so. last night was fun, however, giggling under our breaths as we tried not to wake jj, who slumbered next to our intertwining bodies. he’s a better cuddler than anyone I’ve been with. I could develop feelings based solely on that.
today is easy, friendly, warm, light; we’ve built a solid rapport on new understandings. I’m sad this trip is coming to a close.