Last week, on Monday night, I went to sign the divorce papers. It was devastating. It was a freezing night with bitter winds, which seemed to fit. I went separately from Jenny, but on my way out I stopped in at a McDonald’s for a suitably grim dinner, and Jenny bumped into me afterwards on the subway platform. We were both very sad, and there was little to say.
It didn’t help matters that I had a cold. On Tuesday I dragged myself to a job interview with a very nice company that isn’t hiring. This did not lift my spirits. Exhausted, I took Wednesday off. It was my first time being sick while on my own — ever, really, except for one bout of serious illness in India — and it scared me. Afterward, I made sure to talk to a couple of new friends in the neighborhood, who said that of course they would help if I needed it. Learning to ask for help is good.
Saturday I went to a dance concert at Juilliard, then a much more ramshackle dance concert put on by a composer friend of a composer friend. Afterward, we all went back to the organizer’s apartment in Brooklyn for a party, at which I discussed Korean and Finnish folklore with a Finnish folklorist. I left just before the microtonal orchestral music began. I’d been suffering from my arrhythmia all evening, and I almost couldn’t walk the three blocks from the subway to my apartment. I had taken too many of the beta-blocker pills that are supposed to fix the arrhythmia, and I ended up staggering to the curb and throwing up in the gutter. I realized that to anyone passing by, I must have looked like a drunk, which was funny because I hadn’t had a drink in nine months to the day.
On Tuesday night, as I was heading to a 12-step meeting, I saw a pickup truck start backing up just as a small Hispanic man darted into the street looking the other way. I shouted — “Yo, yo, YO!” and the truck stopped inches from the pedestrian, who never noticed any of it. I then made an incomprehensible gesture at the driver and walked on.
Yesterday morning I went for a job interview and was kept waiting in the lobby for 40 minutes because of a miscommunication. But at least they’re hiring.
Last night, after a very interesting evening out, I was walking home from the subway and heard a rustling in the bushes in front of an apartment building. I turned around, expecting a cat or something, and was startled to see the wide-eyed face of a young woman who was lying there, bundled in a coat and mittens. I turned around and kept walking.
Today at lunch, the diner on 49th and First was shaken by an explosion up the block. A manhole cover had been blown off, smoke and steam billowing into the street. A few minutes later, the fire department showed up and taped off the street. As we left, we saw the shards of the manhole cover lying a few feet away from the hole. Fortunately no one was hurt.
I feel today as though I’ve somehow stepped into a Murakami novel, where the world is off-kilter in a way that may or may not be ominous, and my role is simply to live in it as normally as possible.