4 July 2004


On the fourth of July, I mingled with twenty-odd people who had shown up on my vast wooden deck to drink beer, eat polish sausages, and say goodbye to me. Junior smoked me up, and Thomas arrived with far too many fireworks, which he decided to set off all at once on the lower deck. When they exploded with a catastrophic fury, as though someone had set off several blocks of semtex beneath our feet, they bounced off the ugly condominiums that were going up next door and left huge, satisfying black streaks.

 My building was falling to gentrification, my career was stagnating, and my best friend from college, Bob, needed a roommate in exotic Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. When that many stars align, you better set sail.

Despite all this, I was restless on that balmy afternoon and evening that seemed to drift on forever... I could already hear the polite round of farewells, the lonely clink of beer bottles dropped into a trash bag...

It was quite late. All night, little scattered clusters of fireworks crackled over the row of houses across the El tracks. I saw Gwinny step out onto the deck with Ben, blonde and awkward. I introduced myself to her in the kitchen, and found out she had the same name as the girl who had broken my heart a year earlier. The universe warped a little and I could smell danger and magic. Maybe that's why I cornered her and started talking to her about whatever came into my head as Ben groaned and started climbing over the deck's railing in protest. When she vanished I somehow knew I was supposed to follow her into my living room and there she was, quietly waiting. We looked at each other, opened our hearts, smiled at the insanity of it all and asked for each other's phone numbers at the same time. When she walked through my kitchen on the way to join Ben and everyone else on their way out my front door, I knew I had to kiss her and I did.