wisdom teeth & simple matters
the wise ones say it's all simple (sure.)
Dear New York,
I want a simple life. I want that life of the woman on those neon green-yellow foldable park chairs in Union Square: red hair, red glasses, pink shirt, purple sweater. I would take my time disinfecting the water bottle (mine... his... as he watches...), unwrap the crinkled brown plastic bag, and emerge a cookie from the waxed paper sleeve in my hand. I would take a bite, noting the freshness from the Saturday Farmers' Market happening a few yard from me... him... look into the sun looking into my red glasses, digest the moment, and put my arm out towards him signaling "my love, take a bite." And immediately, he would understand and lean forward, squinting against the sun fighting no pair of glasses, take a bite with his eyes closed, and lean back into his own neon green-yellow foldable park bench in Union Square probably thinking, "simple, this is simple."
I want a simple life, and I notice this especially in your presence, New York, where it seems to be a naive sin to admit such words. Unlike the conversations you hear down the street throwing "hustle," "grind," "side gigs," and "making it here" right into your own walk path, I will walk 38 blocks North and 2 avenues West to Times Square and stand in the centre of it and begin to shout this inaudible (some say deafening) noise that is complete... silence. (And that silence will stop the cars, stop the selfies, stop the tracks, stop the shows, stop everything (even the thoughts in all our huge heads.)) Now imagine what I could do with this silence. Anything, everything. It's really that simple.
Two days ago, I started feeling my bottom L wisdom tooth emerge (or in dentist talk "#17 THIRD MOLAR: emerging"). Earlier this week, I thought it a simple tear in my gums from Trader Joe's Organic Unsalted (I like to salt my own) Crunchy Peanut Butter that is more shards of rock than nut. But it only took a day for my tongue to stretch a bit further to notice that "no, there are ridges here and, yes, I seem to be approaching the appropriate age for this." For what? Wisdom, I hope. But this must be the reason why I sympathized with that mother rather than her daughter sitting on the park bench eating her ice cream out of a cup on this sunny Fall day at Union Square. Simple living, that's what I want.
New York, I find myself at a loss of places to visit you when I want something simple. I want you honestly. But I'm not sure where you are that way (in public at least.) So far, I trust you in your cafes and at your parks (but only your weekends when you've invited the farmers in and you're eating well, not just feasting off the potter’s fields of bones under your grass or who-knows-what excrements these living folk release upon you at night). At such times of the week (late afternoons to evenings of weekends), I find myself either walking your streets or seeking some refuge by a mug in your cafe. Typically, I would spend such evenings in my parents' home or in the backyard of my friend's place. With you New York, what are my options but public streets or public cafes. But I don't mind these simple options.
As I begin to understand how independent I really am, I begin to question what it is that I'm staying here for. Why is it that I'm subjecting myself to a place that wants you to ask for anything, everything, but nothing simple of any sort?
Day by day, I sing that familiar tune that starts with love of the new day and ends with the pain of the deep and unwavering dark night. I keep singing thinking it will soothe the captor to release me one day. No, these Stockholm Syndrome blues only keep me from forgetting my voice, because if I do, I will stop resisting, and I will immediately find myself here, and only here, walking aimlessly across dead bones that look like grass and clinical illnesses that look like individuality. It's simple, the life that I want, it's really all so simple. So why, New York, are you giving me all these options but the one that we all started with? "I'm not sure," you say, "I thought you wanted more — or why else did you move here?"
I think this bone in my jaw is unearthing truth and pain, more than just a single #17 THIRD MOLAR. I wish my first thought could be the Dirhams and Dollars I'd find under my pillow in the morning, rather than whether I selected enough of a deductible on my Cigna health insurance to cover my expatriate dental memoirs.
"It's simple, remember," I try to remember. "This is not just for you now, this is for the future you and the future you will have soon enough." Well isn't this me now? "Don't retort. It's simple and I know you know what I mean here. You are doing this to have a simple life ensured. Your time in New York, the daily reenactment of Big Bang's chaos, is bringing order to you. Because of New York, you are seeing what it is that you want, where it is that you will be, and who it is that you are and continue to want to be. It's simple, I promise you. Just don't stop resisting against, and don't forget this voice of yours. I know how it feels to speak, trust me I do. So keep speaking, keep walking, keep writing. That's all you can do to bid yourself time. Soon enough, you will find the grass to be true grass whether over there or right under your feet (and green-green, not neon green-yellow green.) You are here. It's as simple as that. That is what you need to understand before you can move on to the next step.
"Also, a word of advice: silence won't do a thing. It is all about presence. You can stay silent hiding in plain sight for 22 years, or you can make yourself known on the 23rd. And how good it will feel. It's a short life for me. I will be yanked out of it, as we all will at some point at any moment. But it's a good one when you can see it that way. It's as simple as that."
The little wise tooth then licked close the envelope, placed it under the pillow, and hoped his letter would be read and understood not long before he would be removed, taken and gone, wisdom lost but not forgotten. Silent perhaps, but definitely felt in presence. Definitely felt.
Signed, R’s #17 THIRD MOLAR
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