Justin says he doesn’t care about history – “It doesn’t matter,” he yells. It is six in the morning, we are snorting coke from a glass tabletop after a thirteen-hour twelve-bar crawl. When I mention certain old buildings he snorts and scoffs “who cares?” and celebrates Robert Moses not as an innovator but as an inevitable force of nature, the human hand of God who with an alchemist’s twist of the wrist paved highways from piles of human flesh and bone. Justin’s passionate cynicism transforms my casual interest to sentimental banter; I speak of Jane Jacobs’ triumph of inner-city preservation as a David and Goliath scenario while real tears spill from my eyeballs. I say, I believe that humans are beings in time and to some extent need to feel connected to things that have happened before they did. I argue with Justin, but, ultimately, these are only words shouted into the void. We are both adrift, floating through distinct yet equally intolerable darknesses. And it is history itself, memory, the clear and specific knowledge of all the mistakes we’ve made, that now gives cause for such deep and insignificant suffering. I think about this after I emerge from the well-lit apartment onto the balcony, where I blow cigarette smoke over a landscape of rooftops and watch drops of my spit spiral down onto the sidewalks. It’s dark now, but in twelve hours, his roommates will awaken under a sky that no longer pretends to belong to winter, and they will call him an asshole, then we will watch The Anchorman, his house-cleaner will arrive and be careful to mop her way around the television, so as not to obstruct our view. In 24 hours, at a party, an ex-girlfriend will feel my muscles while her boyfriend glances at me from the refrigerator, a high-school friend will tell me that she wants to be a ‘writer’ and I will ask why she bothers to go on; she will say, with what?; and I will say ‘with life’; then an old lie will catch up to me, I will again find myself speaking through tears that I fight back while trying to justify something bad that I did a long time ago but kept hidden, I will call and threaten to harm the person who disseminated my lie. In 36 hours at a Mexican restaurant I will articulate to someone else a distinct and terrible division between the half of me that does and says things when I am with others, and the leftover parts, the muscles and thoughts that spend hours regretting the past while pumping out pushups in front of a mirror while tears stream freely down my cheeks. In 48 hours I will call in sick to work. In 60 hours I will speak with a girl I recently claimed to love and once again put forth that claim although it no longer seems true. After this conversation, nervous energy will compel me to race around the park, total distance 4.2 miles, total time 31 minutes, my personal best. And I will almost feel good about myself for that. On the sidewalk outside my house, I will see an old friend, he will ask me if I want to move in with him, and I will go to his house to see the room he is offering, then we will laugh about women and make plans that we won’t keep. But I don’t know any of this on the rooftop. For now, I am continuing to debate Justin in my head. Between my exhaled breaths, my resting heartbeat is alarmingly high, as though it is reacting to events before they happen. I am trying to convince myself that meaning exists, not only as a product of what you do and/ or who you know, but inherently, as a quality that can be discovered in stagnant creations, historical events, concrete walls and marble floors that can teach you lessons that don’t necessarily involve feelings of shame. And though I am momentarily unsuccessful, I will continue to try.

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