Lucy turned to me, looking at the space beyond my body, down past different groups of people that had aggregated on the grassy side of the hill, just like the groups of people that were also above and beside us. “I don’t want to live anywhere,” she said.
The grass was drier underneath us, compared to what we had been walking through (wading through, pulling our knees at high arcs through the mud to be able to place our feet inches from where they were before), as we sat listening to Yeasayer play from the direction of the festival stages. I looked back at Lucy, my eyes focusing on her dark hair sitting above her reddening shoulders, thinking of my own hair—frizzing, dry, and out of control—and thinking back to earlier in the day when Lucy had held her arm out against mine saying in mock disbelief, “I’m so pale.” I nodded sympathetically. “Why am I moving to New York?”
Lucy had recently packed what she could fit into a single suitcase, taken a plane from London to New York then a bus to Baltimore (where she would be staying for 2 months), and then a bus back to New York to meet up with me to see Kanye West perform at The Governor’s Ball. I am currently trying to negotiate a move to New York and have been back and forth, from Woodbridge, Virginia to New York, twice within one week in order to organize job interviews, apartment hunting, and trying to spend time with the people that I would hopefully turn into friends. Though I’m moving to New York, I’ll still be the same person that I am in Virginia. I have to make a concentrated effort to change myself, or at least my everyday habits and actions that manifest as “myself” to an outside observer. Being alone in New York is the same as being alone anywhere else, though ostensibly more expensive. Everywhere I go I try to make the people there into my people. One day I hope to find my person. Lucy is my person, more than anyone, and it’s sad that she is most often far away. And it’s sad that we love boys. For some reason we love stupid boys. I thought, then said aloud, more to myself than to Lucy, “I like when I just have one or two people that I can just be unselfconscious around and just have them be the extent of all my social interactions.” This manifested as a warm feeling moving through me, suddenly feeling grateful for Lucy, and wanting to extend my skin around us both. “I wish we could be neighbors.”
“Liam messaged me the other day and said my story, the one that was just published, was ‘pleasant to read.’” Lucy said.
I looked at Lucy conspiratorially and said, “Pleasant to read… What the hell does that mean?”
“Pleasant to read is like… “ Lucy paused, as if searching carefully through every composition of phrases she could choose from and said, “going to a fucking English garden and eating a slice of cake.”
“Oh, I see. So like, a fucking tea party,” I said, smiling widely.
“He doesn’t get that I’m an art bitch,” Lucy said, matching my smile.
“He doesn’t understand us arty bitches.”
“Oh my god,” Lucy interjected, “I just had a flashback to New Years Eve, I don’t know if this actually happened, but we were on the stairs with Susie, talking about Liam or something related to him, and I just looked at you and said, completely incredulous, ‘Liam thinks language is FUNCTIONAL.’ Just with complete disgust.”
I started laughing, not remembering Lucy having said that but imagining the event and watching it slowly warp and attach itself to my memory of that night. “Oh god, I hope you said that.”
Me: My thing is that I hate when I can feel a guy trying to seem smarter than me or trying to teach me things.
Lucy: Yeah, I get that. The fucked up thing is that I KNOW Liam is an idiot but he’s a way more talented artist than anyone else on the internet, in my opinion. He just… needs to focus.
Me: Yeah, that makes sense but I feel like he would be your Basquiat, like, you would be supporting him so he could just do art things. You don’t want to sacrifice yourself for him.
Lucy: Oh god, no. Absolutely not. The thing is like, I’m not a fucking girlfriend of an artist. I am the artist. So he can stick around but I will be doing my shit. My main focus is my work. No. Our work. As in, you and me.
Lucy: It seems clear that we’re… completely ridiculous.
Me: Yeah, that much is clear.
Laughing, I realized, with an uncertain degree of sarcasm, we were struggling with the condition of being artists, writers in fact — poets, worst of all. Women, even worse.
I remembered the nights we stayed up late on gchat—10pm for me, in Virginia, and 3am for her, in the UK¬—talking seriously, and not so seriously, about our future:
Me: I just read someone’s author bio and thought, “he’s like a fucking famous poet rockstar.”
Me: I want people to think that of me.
Me: Alex Dimitrov. He just has like a whole paragraph of awards and prizes.
Lucy: Jesus. My bio is simply: LK Shaw is a lil bitch.
Me: Fucking famous poet rockstar. Let’s win a prize.
Lucy: We’re only eligible for… the bad bitch contest :(
Me: lol. We’re in first place tho.
Me: “I’ve also always been intrigued and attracted to characters with really obsessive personalities, or an obsessive nature. This idea that if you’re dissatisfied with the world around you, you can in some way change your environment — that you can go somewhere and create your own world. It’s interesting for me to watch these characters because they can sometimes go so far out and become so isolated they begin to lose themselves… they can disintegrate very quickly or strange things can happen.”
Lucy: Oh. That’s us.
That night we stood for 2 hours — after we watched Grizzly Bear play the main stage — packed against stranger’s bodies in the heat, to watch Kanye West perform. This is what we came for. We watched as they dismantled Grizzly Bear’s meager set up to add more lights and screens. They even covered up the official Governor’s Ball sign, per Kanye’s request. We could hear our friend Peter, who was separated from us by one or two bodies, encourage a girl not to leave to go to the bathroom because “Kanye would change her life.” And he did. We were 5 feet from where he stood, screaming with every intensity, “Assholes deserve to be lonely,” an ad-lib that Kanye repeated over the beat to “Runaway.” When Kanye asked, “Where the bad bitches at? Where ya hidin’?” Lucy and I looked to each other: here we are.
The next day Lucy and I sat on our respective buses back to Baltimore, I was taking “Vamoose” and she “Bolt Bus,” texting the entire way. I had missed my original bus at 5:00 pm so now our bus schedules were almost in sync. She left New York at 6:30 and I left at 7:00.
Me: Jacob went to see a place in Crown Heights that he loves. I haven’t seen it but it seems ideal. We’re probably going to go for it.
Me: My new life…
Lucy: That seems good.
Me: Seems funny how I just keep making decisions that further commit myself to this while thinking ‘what am I doing?’ more amused than earnestly trying to figure it out.
We had both stopped at a rest-stop somewhere after traveling for a few hours. I walked inside and noticed mine had a sign that said “Baltimore.” I asked Lucy if she happened to be at the Baltimore rest stop but she was in Delaware. My bus had somehow pulled drastically ahead of hers.
I got back on the bus and fell asleep, waking up to a road sign that said “Welcome to Baltimore” and a text from Lucy that said she was just arriving in Baltimore. I was confused until I remembered what the signing on the rest-stop had actually said, having stopped their multiple times coming up and back from New York. Over one set of doors it reads, “To Baltimore” and over the other it reads, “To New York,” depending on which way you pulled into the rest stop, in Delaware. We had both been at the same rest stop via different buses at the same time, just missing each other.
The next morning in bed I felt sad about all the people in my life that I missed and all the people that I’m trying to put in my life to replace them. I felt sad about not having a reason to be in any one place in particular, with any one person in particular, but it wasn’t a glamorous sadness and I didn’t want to indulge in it. I cried in an ugly, private way and went to work.