The wind was kicking dust up and down Broadway as I walked home in the evening quiet. This was a “day” month, so the city was closing at seven-thirty. I bumped into Jon, who was on his way to shut off Time’s Square.
“God damn waste, those things,” he would say. “Could have left them out altogether.”
I was glad I caught him tonight. I needed to talk to him. Not about anything in particular, I just needed his company. His gruff assuredness helped me feel rooted. I walked alongside my bike with him up to 42nd, and sat in the middle of the street while he went down to the switchboard. The Coke ad was always the last to go, some kind of tribute I figured, and finally they were all off and all was still. The moon was full, and after a few minutes my eyes had adjusted to the moonlight. It spilled graciously in and out of the streets, subtle but necessary, kissing everything gently with a blue-silver whisper and rendering shadows that were less jagged than the daytime ones.
I rode my bike up to the south side of the park by Columbus Circle to my apartment. I didn’t feel like walking around the park tonight. I just felt like listening to music and eating dinner. Sarah would be coming over soon, and I felt like making love tonight so it would be a nice evening. I’d keep the lights off and open the blinds nice and wide, so we could bathe our naked bodies in the azurian metal air. She was no prize, Sarah. Very average looking. But this was what I liked about her. She wasn’t stunning, or “out of my league,” I wasn’t “lucky.” You couldn’t use any erratic terminology that suggests a sympathetic downside on the other end of a scale, a trough in which to inevitably find oneself. She was somewhat womanly, kind, and of a balanced temperament. All of the middle-ground qualities that made me feel comfortable. I enjoyed our relationship because we gave each other all of the things we wanted and needed without feelings of insecurity or overbearing.
Up in my apartment, Sarah was already waiting. I walked in and she came up to me, and kissed me gently. I leaned my bike against the wall inside the door and closed the door behind me. I pulled her in close to me, sharply, surprised by my immediate arousal. I put a hand down her pants and felt her get warmer and wetter on my fingertips. She unbuttoned my pants and began to pull at my already-erect penis, eagerly. The tungsten bulbs were on, dimmed, in the room, but there wasn’t any time for me to care. I pushed her against the wall by the kitchen area, pulled out my hand and tasted it, then undid her pants. I yanked them down. Mine had already fallen to the ground. I thrust myself deep inside her. All of her sound and movement stopped. For a moment she just gripped the back of my t-shirt. My muscles, too, remained tense, caught in the moment of force, and then as her body adjusted, made room for me, I pulled back and began the locomotion of the thing. She kissed me as I came, our lips locked together in suction, our bodies wet, and I sank into her.
I woke up twenty minutes later, both of us on the kitchen floor. The room was a comfortable temperature, and we lay sprawled out like victims of some horrible crime. I chuckled at what a sight we must be, pulled my pants up, and started cooking dinner. Unlike most people, I was actually the second person to live in this apartment. The man before me hadn’t been here long: just long enough to leave marks of his presence. There was a burn mark on the stove from something-or-other, a nick in the wooden dining room table, water marks in the tub in the bathroom, things like that. I liked it, though, the lived-in feeling of the place. I would go into other apartments that felt lonely, cold, unvivacious, and feel glad about my own place.
Over dinner, Sarah and I talked about the construction.
“It feels like they just finished the Village, and already they’re moving further and further south,” she said. “It’s too soon.”
“That’s the way it’s going to be, I think. I mean, the bigger the city gets, the more revenue they’re generating on a daily basis. The whole place is going to grow exponentially, I think, just because they can do it.”
“Do you think they’ll finish on time?”
“Yeah, probably. At this rate.”
She paused for a minute. “I don’t think I want them to finish.”
She stared at me when she said it, and I stopped chewing. I sort of looked around the room for a minute, swallowed the food down my throat, and got at little morsels caught in my teeth with my tongue.
“I don’t think I want them to either.”
In the morning, we jogged together through the park. A few canoes bobbed in the lake, waiting for their daily loads. Birds chirped, but for the most part it was quiet. No traffic yet. All the drivers wouldn’t even be waking up for another hour, probably. It was a clear day, so when we got to the top of the park we stopped and squinted. I could see the wall, far in the distance, nothing but empty, completely unspoiled land between it and us. They hadn’t even begun prepping it yet. No bulldozers, no fences, nothing. I dreamed about the space a lot. The feeling in my dreams was hard to convey. It was a desperate feeling of needing to consume the space. I needed to run around in it, yes, but moreso I felt the insatiable desire to have it for myself, to wrap my arms around it and press it inwardly, into me, to wrap myself around it and never let it go. I would go there sometimes, in reality, alone. I would sprint into it. But soon I would run out of steam and just sort of sit there in the grass, catching my breath, and realizing the enormity of the thing.
When we got back to my apartment, I hopped in the shower. She got in with me, and we made love again. It wasn’t as intense this time, but still enjoyable. Ever since my first girlfriend, I’d always enjoyed having sex in the shower. Sex is a dirty thing. Not in some unconscionable way, but just in the sense of fluids dribbling everywhere, bodies meeting and sharing, sweating, the whole thing leaves one physically unclean. So doing it in the shower always made me feel satisfied, pleasant, knowing that the whole time I was fighting the battle of keeping clean while enjoying the pleasure of the act.
I made it to South Ferry on time. A wasteland of construction and emptiness to
traverse to get there, but one that seemed to get smaller and smaller by the day. I liked that they had opted to do the subway system before any above-ground construction. They had planned well, obviously. The whole thing, really was well-planned. I had to give them that.
A new bakery was opening in SoHo, the northernmost bit that was finished, so I grabbed my breakfast there that morning.
Marty greeted me warmly at the stairwell.
“Hiya Max. How are ya?”
“Hey Marty. Fine, thanks. You?”
“Good, good.” He always greeted anyone boomingly and laughingly, like he’d just heard a great joke and was on the verge of sharing it. “You’ll be driving the first one out today, if that’s alright with you.”
“Sure, sounds fine by me.”
I sat eating my bagel with cream cheese, the last morsel finding its way into my mouth as the klaxon sounded. Marty clapped me on the back and said, “Well, here we go.”