In some loud and reckless recess of my heart
--"Between 1st and A", The Punch Brothers
I sat in the courtyard while John was building the walls for the set.
It was night time in East Harlem. The first of the nights of spring that feels like summer.
And it felt so much like last summer: staying late at Cristo Rey, finishing up work on a theatre production, smelling the warmth of the neighborhood permeate into the night dotted with lacy clouds.
I sat on the corner of the sidewalk, holding the flashlight of John's iPhone, pretending to control the music, but just watching the sawdust pile gather underneath the buzzing saw.
I was very content.
Lulled into contentedness by the warmth of the night (even though I was shivering in my premature t-shirt and shorts), by the comforting buzz of the saw, and John's rant about the importance of crafts in education curricula. And his thoughts on how carpentry and woodworking can be important for students. And I think of how pleased Sr. Jude will be when she hears that I'm volunteering him to run shop classes for the students.
And he asked: how are things with Nathan?
And I smiled, thinking how this is one of those moments that I will always think of when I think of New York.
When I am old, and tell my daughters what it was like to live in New York as a twenty-something-or-other, I will tell them about this friend. And this moment. And all the summer nights that led to this warm April night that feels like May.
I will tell them about sticky July nights sitting on CitiBike ports, eating Hallal food.
I will tell them about late nights at Cristo Rey, broken air conditioners, the joy and fun of bathroom theatre.
Climbing the tree in my backyard on opening night.
I will tell them about the comfort of friends like John, a beautiful companionship borne of deep respect for one another, and a deep appreciation for one another's work.
And these sorts of companionships don't arrive without a few bumps along the way.
But I sit and watch John saw away at the luann, and screw it into the 2 by 4 frame, and think of how right this moment is. It is full of peace.
And I am thankful for friends who do things you don't know how to do. And you can just watch them turn lumber into a door, or you hear about how they cut open a human body and saw her heart, or they describe how they do whatever consultants do. It's all fascinating and foreign, and you know that you could do it, too-- sure you could-- if you tried. But there's a certain joy in not joining in on the project, but just watching your friend do what they do best. And getting to be the person who watches.
We walk out of the gyro shop, his meal earned, mine not so much. And the trees are blooming on Lexington Avenue, their white blossoms look like little moons dangling in the night sky.
I love New York! I cry. Because tonight is one of those nights where New York feels like your own little small town, your own tiny community tucked into this larger adventure of millions of people milling together.
Hey, I'm reading that, I said.
Yeah? he grinned.
And that's pretty much all that needed to be said there.
John is one of those people you don't have to talk about so much about. Conversations with John can be very simple, and a lot can be said in a little. Or sometimes just a little is said in a little. And that's alright, too.
John says a few words, I smile at them, and we lapse into silence.
Right now, I am content to watch the shavings of wood spill into the blue spring night. And smell the city and the sawdust mingle.
And I sit watching John work, and think that it is our friends who really teach us how good it is to stick around.