When you live in New York, everything starts to have sentimental value. If you’re here long enough you won’t be able to walk down certain blocks because of reasons x, y, and z. You collect memories like a hoarder. Everything means something. Everything has the potential to be monumental because that’s what we were taught before we moved here. The mundane can become magic. Just like that.
The other day I was walking down First Avenue and I stopped in front of this restaurant called Tara Thai. I stopped because I was struck by this memory of myself three years ago ordering take out from there. I was 22 then and it was a hot day in the summer. One of those days where the weather sticks to your body like glue. You complain about the humidity to anyone who will listen because it’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s how you keep the days moving and into colder weather. I was wearing shorts that day and I remember feeling very aware of my body. Sweat was seeping into every crevice and I had started to resemble a melted piece of candle wax. I actually liked it though. I told everyone that I hated it, loathed the heat, couldn’t wait till fall, but a part of me secretly liked the feeling of being so naked and young and disgusting on the sidewalk.
Before I had gotten the takeout at Tara Thai, I had been watching the Tyra Banks Show with two of my friends, eating peaches and smoking pot in my studio apartment. I smoked sometimes back then because I felt obligated to. Not from my friends or from “the media” or whatever. I just felt like it was important to do things without knowing the reason why I did them. I never even liked the feeling that pot gave me but life didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. I could delete entire days, resign myself to a horrible altered state, because it was just a day. A day just like all the others. Who cares if I waste another? I don’t feel this way anymore. In some ways, that’s good. I’m placing value in time. But a part of me still wishes I could still be that person who smoked pot for no reason on a Saturday afternoon.
I had stopped by Tara Thai to get food and bring it to my friend’s apartment. She was my best friend actually. Still is. At the time she was living in a crappy apartment on 13th and B. The one redeeming aspect of her place was that it had a courtyard, which we would spend all of our time in. Drinking so much wine, talking for hours because it was free and none of us had any money. This was three years ago. Today my best friend has a full-time job and a boyfriend who she lives with in Park Slope. She’s so happy. She wasn’t happy the summer she lived in the apartment on 13th and B. She was dating some emotionally distant boy and drinking too much. (To be fair, we all were.) Killing time till she went back to school. Killing time. Ha. Now we do anything to keep time alive. We keep it breathing. We feed it water. We would never think to kill it. Wouldn’t dare to.
Even though my best friend is happy now, part of me wishes that we could still spend those lazy days together. They’re gone before you know it. They get taken away from you when you’re sleeping, like all things you take for granted do. Today you can be lazy. You can drink wine in a courtyard and talk for hours but it feels different. Not as pure, not as good. You’re hungover the second you open your mouth and drink. Why does it feel this way? I’m still so young but nothing feels like it once did. Nothing. I didn’t know it would happen this quickly. I thought I had some time to prepare myself.
I stopped in front of Tara Thai the other day because I was reminded of how fast it can all change. Getting take-out whilst stoned on a summer day may seem like a useless memory. It may seem so unremarkable but it wasn’t. Not to me. The restaurant is here. I’m still here. But the mood and circumstances of that day are gone forever. Wave good-bye to Tara Thai and move on. Please just move the hell on. I don’t want to have to be the one who mourns everything when everyone else has clearly forgotten. Being the ghost of some crappy thai restaurant in the East Village while everyone else is in South Brooklyn soaking lentils with their boyfriend. It’s mortifying. It’s mortifying to be the one who remembers.