Taylor & Cora, in real time

To you and your garage,

As I type this, all I can hear are the birds outside my window, perched out on a tree branch that’s swaying back and forth. Every few minutes, a siren will start blaring, so loud you can hear it course up and out of the streets, seeping into all of the apartments. I don’t know whether that siren is taking someone away, or picking someone up, but I know, under my skin and down to my bones, that it is for someone who is sick. When it fades, I can still hear the birds, chirping.

I try to still go on runs, but it’s hard, especially when I see all of these people in masks, crouching away from one another. I hate seeing the look on someone’s face when I pass them too closely. I hate feeling myself flinch back.

Mostly I stay inside now, reading. I taped up this poem on my wall. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Why should we hurry -- why indeed?
When every way we fly
We are molested equally
By immortality.
No respite from the inference
That this which is begun,
Though where its labors lie
A bland uncertainty
Besets the sight
This mighty night --


I feel different every time I read it--confusion, grief, dread--but the ending always agitates me: I can’t stand that a bland uncertainty could so continuously fuck up one’s ‘sight’ and ruin all sense of insight or meaning or truth in one go, no end, just blankness stretching out indefinitely, (infinitely?) stifling everything.

Yours in everything,
Taylor

Taylor––

I’ve wondered about you in your internetless apartment. I suppose at this point you must have bought, borrowed, or stolen some wifi to sustain your quarantine. Correct me if I’m wrong.

My abrupt return to my hometown has rattled my brain. The room I have fashioned in my garage is a sanctuary. My bed is a board over six milk crates (I thought of you) with a mattress pad on top. I rolled out a mismatched assortment of rugs so that I don’t have to touch the cold concrete. My father asked me, “You know you aren’t supposed to be living here, right?” But the landlady is old enough that she should be worried about bigger things right now than inspecting her properties for stowaway tenants.

It’s harder to remember the current state of affairs while in San Diego. This city lacks the visible grime that serves as a signal of germs in NYC. People here are slowly starting to take it seriously. I run through the canyons by my house (even though the parks are “closed”), and when I encounter others on the narrow trails, they step off the path and turn away. It feels as if I’m being shunned, but I’m glad they do it so that I don’t have to.

I can’t tell if I’m happy or sad. I must be neither. In NYC I was overworked and in a continual state of exhaustion. Now I find that the days pool around me. I have time to read for pleasure and get eight hours of sleep. Then I hear a news report and I am slapped with the reminder that nothing will be the same as it was.

Faithfully yours,
Cora

right now I would kill for a cinnamon raisin bagel with maple walnut cream cheese, an iced coffee with cream, and a menthol to finish. I don’t know why I need to tell you so bad, but I just had to share.
xxT
ps have you read ultraluminous? you should
pps will send more thoughts in a bit

I haven't read ultraluminous but I just looked it up and now I desperately want to. I can hear the cops on the megaphones telling people not to come to the park next to my house. Where will I run now? I miss you.
Be good, but not too good,
Cora

Cora—

I was walking down the street today when I saw this coffee table stacked outside someone’s apartment in a pile of discarded furniture. I was tempted to take it, but touching anything (even my own body—“your face, your dirty hands, the horror, etc.”) feels so toxic that I kept walking. The legs were made of wood but the top was faux white marble and looked kind of nice (but not that nice). The bookshelf that I keep my magazines on I took from a similar pile only two blocks away, but we weren’t friends then so I couldn’t ask you if it was a good idea (I’m still not sure if it was).

In general, I like taking furniture off the street but I hate talking about it since I'm only ever filled with shame and regret for Having No Standards, or shame and regret for being the kind of expensively educated doucher that likes to take furniture off the street (“Dumpster Diving: An Alternative and Ethical Lifestyle!”). I just want to be able to call someone (you) and say ‘do you think it’s worth the trouble?’ and them (you) answer me, ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ because it’s a practical decision about home making or whatever.

Anyway, I’m touched re:the milk carts. I never got to tell you this since you already left by the time I came back (no proper goodbye 😔) but I regret not taking the ones you found on the street from before, even if it wasn’t a good idea: “but do you think it’s infected?”; “ooohhh haha.” Now, all the books and papers I was going to stack inside them are just sitting in the corner of my room haphazardly. It looks pretty bad.

I’d write you about the other things I’ve been up to—biking (easier to social distance than running, try it out?), drinking with VK, reading, making soup—but it all feels pretty mundane now that I’m typing it out. What’s on your mind these days? Hopefully not furniture diving, too.

With love,
Taylor

PS yes, last week, I went downstairs to my neighbor’s apartment and before you know it I left with the passcode. I can’t remember it anymore but my laptop does. She was nice and didn’t ask me to pay. Let’s hope she’s not reading this and deciding I should.
PPS I mailed you Ultraluminous. Send me something you like when you’re done?

Taylor––

I should tell you that I am the last person to dissuade you from taking shit off the street. Current viral pandemic notwithstanding, if you want guaranteed encouragement for scavenging, give me a call. You probably made a wise-enough choice by not grabbing the coffee table. For the first time in my life, I can understand what germaphobia (usually a pet peeve of mine) must feel like.

I'm in "my office" (a metal folding table set up in the corner of the garage). The chair I'm sitting on right now was found on the side of the road. My mom and I were driving to the store one day (maybe four years ago) and we passed three different chairs that were left curbside. We stopped for each one. It might not surprise you that I come from a lineage of hoarders on my maternal side.

San Diego is comically beautiful. I didn't notice until I left and came back. Descriptions can hardly do it justice. There are cacti as tall as buildings and nearly every block is lined with palm trees. I'm texting you about anal sex right now and I'm laughing out loud. I'm supposed to be "at work" but what does that even mean anymore. Did I tell you my unemployment kicked in last week? Because of losing my coffee shop job? I'm one of the millions on the dole.

It's hard texting you at the same time as emailing you because the conversation starts to overlap. I better send this off before it becomes obsolete.

I'll send you something to read soon. Thank you for Ultra-Luminous, I'm still reeling.

Love,
Cora

Cora—

I feel validated by your aversion to germophobes. I’m neurotic enough just dealing with my own thoughts, without having to account for pathogens, dirt, grime, general squalor, etc., and so I think it’s only reasonable that I resent all those who are trying to get me to live a tidy and/or cleanly life. I don’t need more fixations!!! Fuckers.

Anyway, I've been meaning to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind. I didn’t text you because it wasn't chatty enough. It started a few days ago on my birthday, which was Sunday. It was raining outside, and Veronika was sitting on my bed talking to me as I trimmed some roses Emily had sent me earlier that day. There’s not much to say other than it was nice, and I felt calm. Quiet happiness, maybe. I kept thinking that I wished more my life felt more like this moment. Every once in a while, I’d get a message from someone—either a person I’m close to, or once was close to, or at least, at one time, pretended to be close to--and I'd hear the ping, which was nice in its own way.

But when I got up to check my phone, I felt this twinge about having to respond to everyone. I kept thinking about how some of those responses would be going to people that don’t make me happy and don’t make me feel calm, and if I were really honest with myself (franchement...), I knew that if I could get away with it, I wouldn’t speak to some of those people ever again. These friendships were like dead weight which I had been carrying around for months or even years. Worse, I kept feeling this trace of anxiety that I might one day experience the same apathy with my best friends now. That feeling—the phone check feeling—ruined me for a second. I don’t enjoy being hurtful and I hate completely cutting ties—a birthday text is nice here and there—so I’m not sure how to proceed. The whole thing is a mess. I need a bit of pruning, I think, but I’m just not sure how to go about it, or if it’s even worth the bother. But what is, these days?

Of course, I write this to you knowing that I have never felt apathetic about you, since you get me and are also fun <3. But the older I get the more I’m realizing that finding people you feel really enthusiastic about is just so, so rare. I wish I knew your friends in SD. I bet I’d love them, truly. Or at least, the ones you really love...

Taylor

PS nothing too heavy book wise, please

...

Covid sux!!!