January 1, 2009


Just after midnight, I sat in a car parked outside a club on the edges of Pittsburgh. I couldn't move, I couldn't sleep, I was sick in my brother's best friend's SUV. I hadn't been drinking.

I hadn't been holding anyone's hand. I hadn't kissed anyone or danced with anyone or exchanged a shy flirtatious glance. I was dry. I was cold. Snow dusted the tops of cars, swirling around the banks of the river.

I'd cracked the rear passenger-side window, and my friends had departed, been swallowed by the thumping multi-bright music inside. Inside, they were becoming part of the oracle's voice, they were swimming toward the cohort of shirtless sweaty bodies.

I watched the lights from downtown Pittsburgh flicker across the river. There was an unused raised railway separating me from the city, its rusted red burnished even in the midnight light. Its abuttments framed what I could see of the city, held some of it back from me.

I wanted to recede. I don't mean that I wanted to move away, forward into time. I wanted to recede.

The railway was frozen, a segment of its former connected self. Rusted, solid, unwavering, though the gold haze of the city moves toward its spaces. The monument gestures toward movement, union -- but it can't, anymore. Don't ask it to change.

Nothing is left that fits it. There is no other option left. You re-form or the world leaves you behind.

I went into the club, wrapping a brilliant blue scarf around my shoulders, checking my evening hair in the car mirrors. I walked through the remnants of fallen confetti. My friends welcomed me with a cheer. Soon the scarf was stuffed away in my pocket, and the dancefloor lights were scattering a promise across the bridge of my upturned face.

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