I am listening to a woman tell me about a woman who lost her daughter. The woman talking to me tells me it must be better to have a daughter who is disappointing and mostly selfish than to lose a daughter entirely. Or something. I don't know who she is talking about, I don't know this story.
I meet him for a walk before we head to the panel on documenting performance art. I tell him not about the woman I don't know who lost a daughter, but how I once had told my father that I did not choose to be born. Dad didn't think it was very nice to say but he missed it entirely, how I was just making existential comedy. How funny is unfairness when we are condemned to our burdens. If there is enough slapstick can we tie them together and get up on the cross?
Outside the men's room he kisses me goodbye on the side of my face, before the panel begins. We are cold from the walk, and bundled thickly, but he squeezes my arms and invites me East for a weekend in the new year. We are facing each other during the performance artists' discussion, which allows me to spy him spying me, which I know because I have remembered to wear my distance glasses.
At the end of the panel he leaves right away for another discussion in which he is also a participant.
By the time I get to the bookstore it is dark and my phone is dead. I am meeting my friend I have not seen since his birthday over the summer. This year he is exactly twice my age, and going forward we will only both of us be old. He hands me the tiny edition of Robinson Crusoe he had sequestered for me as a gift, rather than selling at the bookstore. He says he would have only priced it at $5 but that's still not two subway rides.
If I were shipwrecked on an island, I have decided I would not try to get rescued.
I am happy with my gifted Crusoe, but I'm more excited to purchase the catalog for Reversible Destiny, the Arakawa + Gins exhibit at the Guggenheim from 1997. The folio is titled: We Have Decided Not to Die.
We wait inside the station to stay warm for the twenty minutes until the next train arrives. I ask him if he has posthumous wishes for his personal library. I recall the collection, carefully selected over decades, unraveling like a dark sea creature in stacks from kitchen to living room to bedroom, CDs in narrow stacks on top of books.
"If I were to get hit by a car tonight and die," he says, "the books would probably all be resold."
When we get off the train we part ways at the street corner. His kiss is as wet as it is surprising as it is expected.
I slip into the reading just in time to hear the poet read my favorite piece from his new collection. The reading ends shortly afterwards, but I am satisfied. I give him a congratulatory goodbye when I leave less than thirty minutes after arriving.
I am supposed to head from Brooklyn to Uptown to meet my friend for a film to end the night. We are going to Raúl Ruiz's 1985 fantasy of Treasure Island, but my friend texts me that the screening has been cancelled. He says there has been a problem with the print. He says this had happened with the same film years ago. He says it is cursed. Instead of meeting up, we decide to meet another time.
If I were shipwrecked on an island, I have already decided I would not try to get rescued.