LETTER SIXTEEN

Saturday, March 12, 2016
Starbucks (Broadway and 114th St.)

DEAR FRIEND

I had started writing you earlier this week, before I read your letter. However, having now read your last letter, I think I ought to start over. My earlier draft was garbage anyway. I was going to write this angsty poor-me essay, agonizing how my life hasn’t been perfect lately—but I think the far more pressing topic is your eating habits.

Friend, pal, good buddy, listen to me. Please, for the love of god, don’t continue to eat noodles and butter cooked in a dirty pan. There are so many reasons for why that’s terrible. That grim picture of your diet was too much to handle. The one good thing about it is that it did at least snap me out of the low mood I’ve been in all week. Not sure if I found it funny or sad, but either way I was disgusted. Here’s a deal, when you visit me I’ll show you how to cook black beans right—I make the best black beans in the world, I swear!—and I can teach you a bit about eating on a dime. No more dirty peanut butter noodles. Please!

Sometimes when I’m stressing about money, and the future, and all that awful stuff, I imagine a future where I’m homeless. I know I can sometimes be a little romantic, but I like to think that if I were homeless I’d at least cook well; pork shoulder slow-cooked on a hobo stove, muffins baked in old tin cans, a salad of fresh dandelion greens from Riverside park and bruised apples from the supermarket dumpster, and some strong, sweet hooch to wash it all down… I could have little alleyway dinner parties with other homeless people. All our plates would be made of cardboard and garbage can lids. Eventually the Brooklyn hipsters would discover us, and all of a sudden Alley Dinners would replace food trucks as the hot new thing in dining.

I’m eating a croissant at the moment, and I’m pretty sure I could MacGyver a way to make croissants if I were ever homeless… I know this plan is ridiculous, but it’s actually easing some of my future worries. I’ll add Homeless Gourmand to the list of potential fallbacks if this whole writing thing doesn’t pan out. It can go right after small-town mechanic.

It’s good that you bring up that night at The Ossified, cause the other night I was thinking about it. A minute ago I was positive we did not play pool that night, but now I’m not so sure. Funny how memory works. I suppose the specific details of one night don’t really matter. But then again, of course they do.

It’s a beautiful Saturday here in this city, and for the sake of preserving the memory I’ll describe it just as it is right now. Picture me. I’m sat up at the front window at a Starbucks. I’ve got my sunglasses on inside, because it’s really goddamn sunny out. The glasses plus my black t-shirt and black jeans make me look a bit too French New Wave as I sip my coffee and eat my croissant and write to you. I need a haircut. Badly. It sounds like every Starbucks in the world in here. A mix of three distinct layers of sound. At the very bottom is ambient pop music; next are all the industrial barista sounds—the coffee grinder, the cash drawer, metal spoons hitting the metal pitchers they steam milk in, the clanging and rustling of bodies moving around busily; finally, layered over everything is all the mixed up noises of a bunch of conversations at once. There’s a piece of coffee cake on the table beside me, but whoever is sitting there has wandered off. I don’t see them outside smoking, so maybe they’re in the bathroom—their bag is still here so they must be coming back. It’s taking a great deal of restraint to not steal that coffee cake. No one is watching. No one would ever know. It’d be the perfect crime. Outside the window people are walking along the street and cars are passing, but not especially quickly. Everyone seems to be going somewhere, but in that lazy way of Saturday mornings. Over there is a lady with a stroller. And there, two guys with big suitcases. One of them has a guitar. There’s someone wearing a heavy jacket walking beside someone in shorts. They’re reminding everyone of both the winter behind us and the summer ahead. There’s a man carrying a gift and Happy Birthday balloons. There are students. It’s the start of spring break, so I imagine they are happy. Everyone looks happy.

I suppose it’s getting to be that time when I should start thinking about summer plans. Right now I’ve got nothing. I really hope you can make it down to visit. And I want to get out of the city at some point, if I can. I don’t know to where, or when, or for how long, but at the moment I really miss small towns. Those ones, like you mentioned, always with an ‘Authentic-Italian’ pizzeria that uses tinned mushrooms and cheap pepperoni. And a Chinese-Canadian place where nothing is particularly Chinese or Canadian, and where for some reason you can get Beef and Broccoli with McCain French Fries. I used to spend a lot of time out of the city during the summer when I was younger, and I always used to hate it. Now I kinda miss it. That’s the constant ironic fuckery of life I guess.

I don’t really want to stop writing just yet, but I think I’ve run out of things to say. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I wanted to talk about it, but this has been better. Sorry if I’ve been a little sentimental in this letter. It’s spring and if ever there was a time for sentiment, this is it. 

We’ll talk soon.

Eat a salad.

—Henry