It's Sunday, it's chilly out, and I'm just killing time while bake my peameal (read: Canadian bacon, for all those Americans). It was on sale. I'm wrapping up things in Toronto. I finished school. I have a job that doesn't matter. And a couple other commitments that I plan to put behind me.
It's been cloudy all day, but totally comfortable outside, without the discomfort of wearing long sleeves you get in July. There's a general air of hope and expectation: semesters are drawing to a close; the long trudge of winter is behind us; and the weather will only get better.
A few things have changed in the last year and half--not just your facial hair. For one, the way you say street names has changed. For another, I'm no longer scared shitless by our website. And then, I suppose, there's the seasons, which are constantly changing but somehow always the same, which seems to be a recurring theme with us. I guess that about segues into my letter, which I couldn't write on the day of, but which I made sure to remember so I could write it later. So here goes: a typical Monday in the life of Sal Walker.
The Spring Equinox in Toronto as Narrated by our daring hero Sal Walker, to his far-off friend, Henry the Half-Back Kid
Good evening friend, I am walking along the western edge of Central Park. It’s 7:30 in the evening, cool but not cold, on a Monday night. It’s the spring equinox. I can’t say why I picked this particular part of the city to walk, other than I hoped that the park might be inspiring. I’ve been searching for inspiration all day, my friends, but alas so far nothing. As always the city is alive and pulsing. There are cars and people everywhere, and the gathering darkness is already full of lights. There are square window lights, headlights, flashing emergency lights, lamp lights, streetlights—every light you can dream of, except starlight. Starlight is the price we pay to live here. Starlight is what we give up for all the other lights in the world. You know, I feel rather like a poet just now. That was a particularly poetical turn a phrase, you gotta admit. And besides, wondering for New York City in the gathering twilight on a high holy Pagan holiday—how much more poetical does it get?
Almost exactly a year ago I wrote you about the view from a Starbucks window in spring. This is my follow-up to that letter. A year later.
I’m trying to remember what we talked about… croissants and buttered-noodles? Does that sound familiar? It was something like that… I remember you had eaten something gross, but the specific details of what that gross-thing was is escaping me at the moment.
Anyway, here is my now: I’m sat at a round marble-top café table sipping a small cup of very burnt coffee. Black t-shirt, black jeans—almost the exact same as how I was dressed a year ago, that much hasn’t changed—but my hair is shorter
I’m sorry I don’t write sooner, but in all the post-Christmas, post-New Years frenzy that accompanied my departure from Canada and return to New York—and then the new frenzy of resuming school—well, I just haven’t had the time.
To catch you up: my trip back to America was... less than ideal. For the first time I was detained at Customs and Immigration and then taken away to a remarkably unremarkable room, with walls the exact colour of the walls in every unremarkable municipal office building; a sort of frothy eggyolk colour mixed with old beige. I was released, eventually. It seemed that there was something wrong with one of the signatures on my visa. I am frightened to leave America again. Once freed, (and I don’t know if it only seemed this way because I was a little on edge or what), but every single person I interacted with seemed to have a problem with me. A security guard started lipping off to me about the problem with kids these days. I had to remind myself that the airport is no place to get into fights, and so I stayed quiet. It wasn’t my best trip, but I am glad to be home.
There’s been a great deal that’s been happening lately, most important being my renewed commitment to finishing my Great American Novel—due Aug 1 of this year (or I do not graduate). But all that can wait for now, because it’s just after five in the morning and I’m tired and I don’t really feel like writing about the boring details of my life. Instead, what I will say is that this morning I find myself at Port Authority Bus Terminal...
I’ve just woken up a few minutes ago. I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee yet, and I was just about to read the paper when I saw your letter. I have only a few minutes before my family wakes up and the bustle of Christmas merriment begins, so this will be a short one.
Right now my house is quiet. The only sounds I can hear are the noises of the few brown winter sparrows outside and the hum of the old electric Christmas tree lights. I love mornings, even if they do always seem to slip away. I’ve got on a pair of heavy wool socks and a sweater and I look properly bundled up—settled in for a cold winter’s morn. There’s frost on the windows, and the sky is gray, so with a little luck we might get some more snow later on. And look at these presents! I told my grandmother that I wanted no gifts, but my Grammy will be damned before she ever listens to a word I say. It’s funny to remember years back: me waking up at the crack of dawn to creep down stairs and see if Santa had come. Christmas is never the same was when you’re a kid, is it? I am excited, but for years now it’s been a smaller, quieter excitement. Do you find that?