Thursday, May 29, 2008


I'm lying on my back on the lower roof of my building, my eyes fixed upon an imaginary point some distance from the ground. I can hear 2 different car alarms in different directions and the slow steady murmur of hundreds of industrial fans within a several-block radius, all of this punctuated by the occasional pop that could as easily be a bottle rocket as a gunshot. I can see very few stars, and almost as many airplanes; they fly by at a rate of about 3 per minute, some so low that I can hear the jet engines. This is the closest my life ever gets to silent. I'm typing on a laptop I bought with Christmas money, sitting on a couch I inherited from a college friend - practically the only one I made - who moved to California, inside of a room that I built with my own hands and my friends'. Said friends are in the next room, loudly watching Muppet Treasure Island, below me, typing on their respective keyboards, or sitting in the kitchen sewing patches that say "In Grind We Crust" into the seats of their shorts where the constant friction of bicycle seats has worn the fabric down to nothing. This is the city where characters in movies rush headlong into romantic destinies on the crowded grid of streets and sidewalks, the bourough where Paul Auster's smugly liberal figments read great works of literature and occasionally produce them and where Jay Z and GZA were born. It has a romance to it if you let yourself be duped, but really it's just a bunch of people in one place living, buying, fucking, and doing whatever it is that people do. New York will not change your life, make it more glamorous; destiny is not waiting for you around the next street corner. Sometimes it feels like home and sometimes the farthest thing from it. Right now, I know that I need a break. I need a break from car horns, billboards, models and fashionistas (that make me feel insecure). I need a break from bars (that I rarely go into), rooftop dance parties (that I never attend), and hip clubs (that I avoid at all costs). I need a break from commercialism, consumerism and Americanism. I need some time away from confusing people and confusing situations. I need some space. I need some time to think, to get my shit together and figure out what I'm doing. I need to figure out who I am and what I want.

I guess it's pretty foolish to assume that a bike trip will give me all of that, but if it just gives me some of that, if it just gives me a break, it will be worth it.

So here's the plan

Tuesday I'm leaving to ride my bike across the country with my roommate Sean. The tentative plan (pending sufficient sleep Monday night) is to wake up just before the sun rises, ride to the bottom tip of Manhattan, take a moment to reflect on time, space, and all that junk (while gazing at the Upper New York Bay), and then hit the West Side Highway bike path. The longest I have ever ridden straight is about 40 miles. We are talking about riding almost 4000 in a little over a month. I honestly have no idea what to expect from myself, Sean or the trip itself. This is so much unlike anything that I have ever done that I don't know if I should be terrified, excited, both, or some other as yet unconsidered emotion. One thing is for sure: I need this. I've spent too many days inside my own head surrounded by flashing billboards and flashy people. I have a lot that I need to sort out, about my life, my goals, my desires. Not to be vague or anything. I need some perspective. I need some sensory and social deprivation. I need the open road. I know it's not particularly original, but distance has a calming effect on me, and I need it right now.

On the practical side of things, I will most likely only have computer access once every week or so from the time we leave until the time we reach Portland, and when I do I will hopefully have the motivation to write something, although I might be so busy responding to all of the myspace messages from people who miss be terribly that I might not get to it. When I'm not near a computer, however, it will be because I'm spending my nights camping, which means no electricity, which means that my phone will be turned off most of the time. I promised my mom that I would text her every night and let her know where we are sleeping, but other than that, I will likely have very little contact with the rest of the world, and I'm really looking forward to that. Wish me luck.

PS if you live in NYC and aren't coming to Ian's bbq this Saturday, call me so we can hang out before I leave for the next couple of months.