New Arrivals

Mike Wechsler, of fame has graciously added a link to the Dead Chinchilla. I would like to welcome all new arrivals with a short story about New Arrivals:

I moved here fifteen days ago. Fifteen days. That's two weeks plus a day. Although, maybe it's a little less, or a little more. I read that our calendar is not quite accurate, because, even with a leap year, we're not properly accounting for the exact number of days it takes for a full revolution around the sun. Because of that, my birthday is actually a day later this year, according to our calendar. It's not a round number, not even a round fraction. That's SO typical, God.

Two weeks and a day, today. The light on my ceiling flickers when you leave the dimmer knob at certain points in its rotation. This is something I know about my apartment. I have coursed almost every inch of this room. Like awkwardly learning the body of a lover I have placed things, moved things, touched things, in an effort to make my apartment familiar and make myself feel less vulnerable. When I tread lightly on one particular spot if my floor, my room coos. It started doing that after I moved in.

Fifteen days ago it had been two days since I returned to the United States, having returned to the USA five minutes before I ever left Japan. Japan fills a hole in my heart, but removes the filling when I leave. I can't take the filling with me to New York, or New Jersey, or California, or any of the other nearly fifty states of the union to which I have been.

In four days I will see an old friend. In seven days I will say goodbye to that old friend. In some days I will say hello to a new friend. In other days I will say goodbye to a friend for the last time. In all of those days, the days ahead of and behind me, I have eaten something. Anything. Everything. The city of New York eats all day every day but continuously defecates all over itself, whereas I prefer to only defecate once a day, and I do it away from my person.

Today is the tomorrow I promised myself yesterday, and tomorrow will be yesterday in two. Onward marches time, and occasionally I stop to rub my feet, saying Keep going, I'll catch up. Keep going, I'll catch up.

On the streets I want to say that to the people alongside of whom I walk, when I turn into a doorway, Keep going, I'll catch up, and when I'm done eating, or done working, I will drop into a slow, labored jog, and fall back instep with them just over a block ahead, find them walking at the same power-walking speed.

My friends all have jobs. Keep going, I'll catch up. My cousin got a promotion. Keep going, I'll catch up.

How many people have I let get ahead of me to tie my shoes? How few have finally stopped walking altogether, telling me they've had enough, to go on without them, and how many more will say it to me before I do too? When I do, will there be some winners' circle where they were all drinking water and OJ, eating cookies, like they'd all just donated blood, and have been waiting for me to stop running and join them?

I've been in New York City for fifteen days. That's two days and a week. The earth goes around the sun in more than three-hundred sixty-five days, but less than three-hundred sixty-five and a quarter of them. The city is covered in trash. My friends have jobs and I'm unemployed. The light in my room flickers and the floor coos.

It's times like these I prefer to turn around, jogging backwards in an awkward reverse-locomotion kind of way that makes my knees click and my sense of balance laugh, and take a look at the familiar faces behind me saying, Keep going. I'll catch up.