Monday, October 7, 2013

Country Clues

Brooklyn B-side-
After several hours of traffic spent cuddled in a bus with the air conditioning on high, we returned to Brooklyn. For tonight, instead of staying within the simplicity of Amil’s brother’s apartment, we would visit a college friend who I worked in the food co-op with.
Walking from the subway to this different area in Brooklyn, under the clacking of the trains on rails high above, along the sidewalk weaving roads spotted with zooming cars exemplified the commotion in NYC, and the smell.  When we arrived at his apartment, the 3rd floor of a house that he co-owns with 10 people, I couldn’t help but admire the contrast between this and the lives of Amil’s family living just a few subway stops away. We arrived on a hectic day amid a roommate swap, so the intricate, colorful living room was crowded with Dan, the new roommate’s boxes. Homemade tinctures lined the mantle, and Beehive collective posters covered the half-completed muraled walls. The kitchen was a 7 foot by 4 foot space that Stefan creatively arranged to make room for spices and grains. Although they didn’t have a working compost system in place, Stefan guided us in the way of throwing bits of food and seeds out the window the garden below.
Later, a tour of the building included a dingy basement that smelled all too much like stagnant spaces after shows in College,  that they use to host bands from all over the country. A walk through the basement past a stack of stuff spilling into the hall led us to a door that reveled a space rare to most Brooklyn homes. Bordered by a chain link fence on one side, and a solid cinderblock wall 20’ high on the other, they had a functional garden space that had sadly been over grown. Stefan, who had spent time in his travels as a farmer, expressed ambitions of making the compost heap in the back accessible, planting some more useful plants than the flowers and squashes that had run wild, and ultimately transforming this green sanctuary among a city of bricks into a functional garden that maintained its use as a smokers spot when shows spilled out from the basement.
Back inside we grilled up some onions and beans, and chopped some beets and cukes and carrots into a slaw. I wasn’t hungry as much as I wanted to relieve the burden of carrying all the vegetables we had bought from Union Square that we cleared out of the fridge and already lugged to Garnerville and back. I nibbled on our veggie concoction late into the evening, while reminiscing about college days and catching up on what all our friends are doing now.  
Stefan had to wake up early in the morning, but we stayed in the space, eventually leaving to take a stroll to a nearby used bookstore. Despite its quaintness and isolation among non-commercial buildings, this is a favorite of all the bookstores I’ve been to. When we checked out, tempted ny the offerings of coffee, tea and beer, Amil got a book about ‘the Strange’ (mysterious things that happen in our world), and a book on palm reading that he’s proudly been practicing. I purchased a Natural History book that I was tempted with at The Strand in NYC called Dirt, as well as a new Anais Nin book to add to my collection, and a $1 paperback called Moulin Rouge (throughout the rest of our road trip and the days of adjusting back home, I tore through the 500 page novel about Toulouse Lautrec).
We returned from the bookstore and made ourselves at home, trying to make a dent in our food cache, and enjoying some of the anarchist literature sprawled around. Shortly after sitting down to a meal, a subletter and her friend came in and made themselves at home on the couch, not even asking who we were or what we came for. I love this sense of communal living. Stefan and I have the same memories of sitting at the co-op surrounded by friends and and strangers who identify with the feeling of family simply due to the openness of the space. His home was like this. The duo began to watch a fiction story about Burning Man, which I would pop over and peek at every once in a while. Despite the comfort of the space, and the welcomeness of the people we encountered in Brooklyn, there was always this underlying sense of hustle, or happening. I think deep down I longed for the slow progress of New Mexico days, and look forward to the possibility of coming back to that.
After a chill morning in a comfortable space, we were to pack our bags and head back out to ride the subway to the train to catch a bus to visit another friend from college in Connecticut.

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