LETTER TWENTY-ONE

Friday,  May 20, 2016
Beacon, NY

What a day, what a day! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been wishing for nice weather, cause I’m already living in that sweet-sweet summer sun.

DEAR FRIEND. I have fled Manhattan, and I am writing you from the little town of Beacon, New York. 

Beacon is a quaint and altogether charming place, full of plenty of nice looking restaurants, little shops and more art galleries then a town this size really needs. And I’m sure if I had any money I would love it here. As it is though, I have three dollars in my wallet and a small handful of quarters and dimes in my pocket, so I’m unable to fully appreciate all this town has to offer. I find myself somewhat constrained to patronizing only the cheaper cafes. Thankfully, however, there are several.

There is a lot that I’d like to cover in this letter, and I know already that I am not going to get to most of it, but the first thing I want to talk about—and perhaps the most important—is trains. (Just a quick aside, in writing you now, it just occurred to me how poor a substitute writing is for a good conversation. What I wouldn’t give at the moment, for a good conversation. This is an uncomfortable realization, as I plan on making my career as a writer, so for now I’m putting it out of my mind.) Trains! I got to Beacon by train, and let me tell you, I don’t think there is anyway to travel better than by train. Planes are boring and horrifying. Cars are greats, but I don’t know how to drive. Boats are fine, but they get worse the bigger they get—cruise ships are unbearable. And what else is there? Buses? Ha! Horseback? Well, horseback is alright, I guess, but nothing beats the romance of train travel. 

So you know how I’ve been saying for a while that I have to get out of the city. Well, I live like a two minute walk from the train station, so last night, more-or-less on a whim, I decided I was just going to go. This morning I packed myself a lunch and stuffed a paperback in my bag, then I sallied forth, off into the unknown of Upstate New York. 

Took an hour, maybe an hour and a half to get here, and I had to transfer once at Corton-Harmon, but it could have taken days and I still would have loved it. The train runs along along the Hudson, so the entire time it was nothing blue skies, water, and trees, the occasional boat yard, a few abandoned, half-collapsed buildings on the edge of the river—it was just perfect! 

I always get in in my mind that I’ll get a great deal of reading done whenever I travel. But, more often than not, I only get as far as taking my book out of my bag. Today I didn’t even get that far. I must have looked like a child, or maybe a dog, with my face pressed against the window the entire trip, eagerly watching the the world race by. If heaven exists, I hope it’s a train just heading forward into forever.

These last couple of weeks have been kind of—well, the only way I can think to say it is that they’ve been kind of dense. Like, a bunch of things have happened all at once, and sort of tangled up. I’m not sure what’s important enough to write about—I’m not sure what you actually care to read either. But none of it particularly matters now. I think you said this a while ago in another letter—or something like this at least, (sorry if I’m misquoting you, but I don’t have the letter on me now)—that all vacations make you to leave something behind. I think you’re right about that. In my case today, I’m leaving behind everything. I’m trading Manhattan for a small yuppie town where the sun is bright, the weather is warm, there are plenty of beautiful people around to look at and listen to. And I can simply be that guy in the sunglasses sitting alone at a table under a wide striped awning, with a cup of coffee and a notebook. 

But about you, Sally. I am really happy to hear that you’ve got yourself a job! That’s terrific! Look at us, both employed like proper respectable young men—we might actually be doing this whole grown-up thing sort of right. I did have a question though, what do you mean you’re not officially employed and you’re a small business owner? I took that as you’re a freelance delivery man, I wasn't aware that that was something you could do freelance... The funny coincidence is that I was going to write you just yesterday and tell you that I got myself another job. I’m still working at the library all summer, but this autumn I got a new position in an office. It’s a job a lot like what I was doing before I moved to New York, which means that I’ll be good at it, but I can’t say that I’ll love doing it. But it’s only a few hours a week and it’s good money, so I’m pretty happy.

What else has been going on with me? Like I said, a lot. I think it would take a little too long to properly unpack the density of the last few weeks, but I can give you a brief rundown, if you’re interested? The school year ended, my final assignments were submitted, and I got decent grades. Work has been steady but kind of boring, as you’d probably expect from a library. I thought for a while that I had made a friend, but I don’t know cause now she isn’t talking to me. I've never been much good at girls. With classes finished mostly everyone I know seems to be getting out of New York. There's a lot of people going to California for the summer. I’ve been there once, to San Francisco—the whole trip felt very beat and unreal—and I think I’m happy staying here. There’s been a bit of drama at the house I’m in, but it’s mostly resolved now. At the moment, I’m the only one living there. My one housemate, Lucy, moved back to her folk’s place (either Jersey or Long Island, I can’t remember), which means her room is empty and we have a vacancy. Patricia is gone up to Alaska, until the somethingth of June, so I won't see her for a while. And about a week ago Jerome left too, to spend the summer working at a hotel in Texas. 3:00AM the day he was leaving, he woke me up cause he needed help packing. He had had a bit too much to drink—it was the end of the semester, you know, parties, etc.—and he was having a hard time packing by himself. It was basically the Thanksgiving turkey incident all over again, only this time with packing instead of poultry. I should clarify something: when I say “he woke me up”, I mean that he stood outside my bedroom shouting my name over and over and over and over, and when I didn’t respond, (because I was pretending to be asleep and hoping he’d eventually tire himself out and go away), he came into my room, sat down on my bed, and started touching my face whispering: ‘get-up-get-up-get-up-get-up-get-up-get-up’. He offered me 200 bucks cash right then if I would pack his suitcase for him. I turned down the money, cause he was drunk and he really didn’t know what he was doing, but I did help him pack and he made is noon flight on time and with everything.

I think maybe I’ll leave it there. The sun has moved so my little table isn’t in the shade anymore and I can already feel myself starting to get a sunburn. I might walk around for a little, I don’t know, maybe I’ll just find a place to lay down and try reading. Again, I’m happy to hear that you’re working. We’ll talk soon, okay?

H