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the liminal space between summers

I have never developed a rigid system of note taking. Sometimes I find old notebooks in which I’ve started from the ostensible front with to do lists and more vague ‘items’ to follow up on. And from the back with another narrative form:

When the baby makes the drunk man laugh on the train to Coney Island — Sunday morning — can the Chinese mother appreciate the comic relief offered by her son (to the drunk man) and by their interaction (to other riders) while on the way to church?

It must have been the third Sunday of August (2017) when I wrote this, and only a second later I remember having the pink notebook the night before in Manhattan. Nice to find it in March in São Paulo. In another summer. I guess I do aspire to being able to manage such a two-city lifestyle. And, while incrementally feasible — this lifestyle — I cannot help but wonder for how long I can maintain it. Whether it is maintainable? Right now I sit at my desk and pretend that it is. Rational man.


Only three times in my life do I remember having an abscess. I prefer the mechanical implication of abscess to the more evocative term ‘boil’. All three times have been during periods of extreme stress. The first two times involved airplane flights, as if the ‘canned’ air of an overnight flight sent the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus into overdrive, and exacerbating its course of exiting the body. The first time, I was flying overnight from São Paulo to Bogotá for the first stage in a wedding party that would culminate a week later in Villavicencio in central Colombia. My longest-held NYC friends would get officially married. Shortly after my own divorce was final, my ex-wife and I agreed to go separate to the ‘event’ but not flaunt our newly-entered independence. It worked for the most part. Nonetheless, an abscess cropped up right between my eyebrows. It could not be quelled by the time of the wedding. Most of the time in Villavicencio the groom’s stepmother kept a small piece of tomato bandaid-taped to my brow. The acid would do something complementary to the antibiotics she felt. I smoked a lot of marijuana with the groom’s younger brother since I was not supposed to be drinking. The night of the wedding my ex-wife was dancing very close to another guest. I was so jealous that I wandered off to sit by a stream. I think it was the same stream that connected Hugo’s parents house — where the wedding had been held earlier — and his aunt’s where the young folk were lodged and the party had migrated. Someone came to talk to me. I think it was her.


The second time did not cap off a grand conspiracy of life as the first time seemed to. I have a third one now. Or rather I did. Perhaps the most uncomfortable one yet. I’m still at the end of the antibiotic cycle. I sat up in bed this morning remembering that I forgot to take my last set of pills at midnight. It was 2 a.m. Afterwards I laid awake, despite getting back in bed on George’s side, something I had taken to doing of late. It offered a different perspective, an erstwhile shortcut to another day’s repose. However, last night I couldn’t find one single scenario that calmed me for the future. I got out of bed again, restless.


2 a.m. is midnight in NYC. No, Daylight Savings time ended in the US this past Sunday. It’s only one hour apart now…when the two cities’ summers are closest. Was there something I should be doing at that moment to find an answer for my restless mind? Were the antibiotics making my mind wander like this? The only calm I could find was that this must be universal. That the night must be a space of introspection for everyone. That worries normally play out under the cover of darkness and then we charge the light again in unison. That the heat of another body is indeed an energy source. That its nocturnal dormancy while regular may not be guaranteed. That if it is there at the same time — occupying the same night as those doubts — it should be clung to greedily. For survival. I went back to bed.


Over morning coffee George tells me that he doesn’t like me taking his spot in bed in the middle of the night. I offer not to do it again.

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