You do not always know what I am feeling.

I’ve been on a Frank O’Hara trip for the past few months, peaking at the point where I get back to New York for the first time since hearing O’Hara read “Song (Is it Dirty?)”. And yes, I will have the 8 dollar salad and pay 12 bucks to see that band, because there is value in accepting that life is expensive or everything comes at a price. Walking in heels, looking like someone who can afford to walk in heels or who can stash her things in a designer handbag, drugs, experience, experiences we have for the sake of documentation: all these things come at a price. But time, you alone get to choose how to spend that. And it’s great to spend it in places where the person making your lunch looks like he’s having the time of his life. (Side note: the guy who made my salad is singing along to whatever’s playing on the radio and dancing while cleaning the counter.) Let me babble here for a moment because even if these thoughts are half-baked, they are still thoughts I’m having.

There are behaviors and habits that aren’t easily transplanted to new cities and new places. I went into someone’s yard because there was a fat cat in it, and I didn’t realize that there was an ornery old woman sitting on her stoop, looking after the cat, and she wasn’t too happy about me being in her yard. I never stay in hotels because I can’t afford to. Travel is a luxury in itself, but it means squatting at friend’s apartments and sharing their beds, or sleeping on couches and sliding off air mattresses. But I’ll have the 8 dollar salad anyway because there have to be days or nights where you actually sit down to eat instead of stopping at a cart and getting something wrapped in foil to nip at on your way to the next thing you’re here for. Yesterday was the Upper East Side to Greenpoint, then back uptown/midtown then Lower East.

I was bargaining with myself over the worth of buying an unlimited weekly pass when I was gonna spend the weekend in Jersey anyway, and I decided against it. After spending a shit ton on train fares in less than a week, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am, indeed, an idiot. But screw that, because I’m an idiot on a train going back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn countless times throughout the day. And that in itself is amazing considering how few people leave home or get paid vacation leaves or the safety net of a tenure-track job. I’m not saying it to gloat, I’m saying it because I will never take the privilege for granted and I need to remind myself not to lash out in fits of entitlement.

(This salad is great by the way.)

This poem is great, too. This draft goes all the way back to March, so it took a while to put it in context, but this city and this lovely day set the stage perfectly.

For Grace, After A Party

You do not always know what I am feeling.
Last night in the warm spring air while I was
blazing my tirade against someone who doesn’t
interest
me, it was love for you that set me
afire,

and isn’t it odd? for in rooms full of
strangers my most tender feelings
writhe and
bear the fruit of screaming. Put out your hand,
isn’t there
an ashtray, suddenly, there? beside
the bed? And someone you love enters the room
and says wouldn’t
you like the eggs a little

different today?
And when they arrive they are
just plain scrambled eggs and the warm weather
is holding.

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Author: alicesarmiento

San Juan, Metro Manila

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