I’ve been sleeping on a hardwood floor for the past week and a half.
I’ve heard it’s good for your back – the sleek and sturdy terrain-lacking wood meets your spinal chord in a supportive sense that doesn’t overbear. It frames the natural lining of your spine rather than suffocating it in an unnecessary plume of fluff (like most American mattresses).
In a sense, it’s exactly like this city. Supportive but not too supportive.
It builds up your dreams, injects you with joy – fearlessness – some high you can’t quite explain when you order a coffee you can’t yet afford at a coffee shop for the creatives you haven’t yet become. But then it tears you down, every taxi-less step towards the subway, stop gone too far, hour longer at the office, or cent unsaved in your “investment” account summed somewhere around the temperature of the concrete buildings in December (though I haven’t yet experienced December).
It’s lovely, but in a real-life kind of way. A genuine sorts of a honeymoon. Marriage after 20 years, but with winery weekend getaways that rekindle your sense of love and affection – enough to keep you going. It’s nice, because you know what you’re in for. You’re ready to withstand and eager to triumph.
But regardless of how good my posture is every morning, standing on the subway probably with some subconscious intent to show how good my posture is every morning, I haven’t been sleeping. I haven’t really been sleeping. You know, the kind of sleep you get on those overbearing mattresses.
There are bags underneath my eye bags. Bruises on my butt, bones, and hips. I’m worried I’ll appear as though I went through President Barack Obama’s first term – that in 10 years at some reunion, my lines won’t be an elephant in the room. They’ll be undeniably present, the elephant that stormed through the walls of the room and took everyone by full force.
But there’s something about this floor and this city that make me think of this entire thing as a memory. Already a distant pastime that I miss. A feeling that I crave. An experience that I’m grateful for.
My dreams are big, and this city is the first place I’ve found that’s big enough for them. It’s as if New York took the plans I’ve conjured in my head from a storyboard to a theatre, made them real and produced, made me believe in them even more than I did before landing off that redeye. Dazed, dizzy, but ultimately dazzled.
They’re not even dreams, they’re plans. And regardless of how uncharacteristic it might be for me to assert my own goals or voice predictive confidence – “I will do this, I will achieve this, this is going to happen”, I must say loud and proud – I’ll see these plans through.
In the future I won’t be sleeping on hardwood floors. I’ll know the subway by heart. I’ll take a taxi when it’s convenient. I’ll order more than the dollar bananas nestled at the cash register that no one buys, perhaps even the largest sized coffee for the extra 75 cents. And I’ll sit right next to the outlets because I’ll have memorized where they are.
I’ll walk in, order, sit down, and pull out some trendy book on the latest industry insiders. My phone will still be at 90% because I won’t have drained it trying to figure out which way the blue dot points, coordinating and re-coordinating my daily trek with Google Maps. I won’t even need the outlet, someone else can use it.
I see myself then and think of myself now, and anticipate some sort of feeling. One of the ones where you aren’t sure if it starts in your gut or your heart, but know it ends in the latter.
I’ll crave what I once lived. Sitting on floors, making friendships from the common experience of being broke, plotting our ideas and planning our dreams.
Talking about the future and figuring out how to get there.
Sure enough, we’ll have new dreams. I’ll have a new plan. New problems to figure out and new places to solve them in.
But at some brief moment, maybe when the light rain patters on the rooftop of a yellow cab, I can see myself thinking: I miss that.
I miss knowing nothing but believing in everything.
And my god, I could use a straighter spine.