Register Monday | June 24 | 2019

The Art of Nothingness

"Too bad retirement is wasted on the old."

Someone once told me that if you can spend a perfectly useless weekend in a perfectly useless manner, then you have learned how to live. I don’t know how much stock I put into that as a guiding principle, but every now and then it is needed. Besides, if it’s true, then this weekend I learned how to live.

We wrapped up everything on Friday for our latest issue, and I bounced out of the office at 1. Met up with Tony at 6 for the Bourne Supremacy (not as good as the first, but dynamic actions sequences, and one hell of a way to veg out), and I have no way of accounting for the 5 hours between when I left the office and walked into the theater. I think I had my iPod on, walking New York City. After that I headed up to his place on the Upper West Side, which, behind the Upper East Side, is my least favorite neighborhood in the City. I will eventually grow up, I will own a stroller and have a child and be a functioning adult, but until I do there’s no need to hide in a suburb-like enclave. In fact, even when I’ve attained those things, I can’t really think of a good reason to live there regardless. Prediction: One day I will bitterly eat those words, with a side of humble crap. Until then, I will look down my hip, little nose at the people stuck up there, pretending.

Tony and I had picked up Bob at the Edge, which, when Bob, the Magnificent Geebs and I had all lived, in our own little separate places, on the Lower East Side had become our neighborhood bar. It has remained our neighborhood bar, despite the fact that we each live, from opposite ends, a good 20 minutes away. It’s a brilliant place. We picked up burgers from a place 13 blocks north and hailed cabs to the Upper West Preppyville. Bob picked up the Magnificent Geebs and we grubbed on burgers, fries, water, cigarettes and some movie. I can’t remember what we watched, what I do remember is that Bob kept shushing us during the viewing. Whenever we see movies in theaters, Bob and I will talk through the whole thing; to the screen, to each other, to the people in front of us. It’s endearing, everyone loves it, except the people sitting around us. At one point or another, the Magnificent Geebs will usually dig her nails into his thigh, smack me in the chest, something subtle wifely sign that says, “You know, you don’t own this theater.” We do, really, and we’ve created memories for the people around us (“Remember that time we saw that movie with those charming and hilarious white kids? That was awesome. They were so charming and hilarious, and hot looking, too.”), but we’ll usually lower the volume 1/3 of the way through. Because of his hypocrisy, Bob had to endure our talking over the film, which, knowing us, we’d all seen before anyway, though I can’t remember for the life of me what we were watching.

Saturday Tony and I watched television. Really. That’s all. Around 6 we drove down to Blue Smoke to pick up some ribs and returned home. We watched TV again, ate, rested for a few hours, and polished everything off around 11.

Today I met my dad and step-mother for brunch at the Whitney. I think I had granola, my dad pancakes, and Robin had French toast. Lot’s of coffee for me, then I returned home and have been watching Tony’s DVD of the 2nd season of The West Wing since. A whole hell of a lot of nothing.

I’ve earned it. I feel no guilt. It’s been about 6 weeks since I had a weekend stretch out in front of me that held no work, no travel, no money to be spent, no obligation of any kind. We are about to dig in for what should be the biggest single issue of a magazine any of us have worked on, which after the hell of putting together the last one seems a bit unfair, but that’s my job. I earned the weekend. Next weekend I will be skydiving again, so recharging through mental and physical paralysis probably wasn't the worst idea I've ever had. The days have been packed. Normally, I cannot pull it off. I get fidgety and yearn to strap on my blades or iPod, but this weekend was a whole lotta nothing. As I’ve typed this I’ve been listening to Ryan Adams’s “Sweet Carolina” on loop. Its pace fits the entire weekend. Tomorrow morning I will get up at 6:30, stretch, and go for a huge run. For now I have some tea boiling, a few cigarettes, and The West Wing waiting, if you'll excuse me.

Too bad retirement is wasted on the old. Wouldn't it be cool if we could live our lives in reverse—born into retirement, you work in your 30s, 40s, and 50s, then attend school till you’re 70 or 80 when you die, peacefully, on a playground somewhere during recess. If that’s how we could live our lives, then maybe I’d think we knew what we were doing.