On uptown 2 train tonight, there was a very heavy teenage girl taking up-close pictures of her mouth with her camera phone, her tongue sticking out to one side. It looked louche and mostly repulsive. I don't think it's what the Times had in mind with their semi-recent article on teen self-portraits. The scene was sweet, earnest, and depressing all at once.
Then on the train home over the bridge I was looking out the window and wondering how many times I'll get to see that view. If I took that train every night for three years, it'd be about a thousand times, and that feels like a lot and a little. A thousand years is a lot. A thousand dollars is medium. A thousand pennies is a pain in the ass and not much at all. I know Paul Bowles wrote about that feeling about 60 years ago, in the Sheltering Sky, but as I get older, a lot of pleasure is tinged with the question – how many more times will I do this? Eat a grilled cheese and drink a shake at Friendly's? Skinnydip? Go to Fenway?
The other day I was talking to a friend who doesn't get out much; her health isn't too hot. It was one of the first warm days, spring and yellow-green. She said that on days like that, she wishes she had walked more when she had the chance, just gone out for a stroll in the sun. And a few nights later, I was down by Battery Park after watching my friend's great new movie. I was feeling fine, and decided to walk up to Canal. I was listening to music loud and had that great New York feeling where you own the city and nothing can stop you, not tonight and not ever. When I got to Canal Street I just kept walking, past the train and away from home.