Rose Lichter-Marck is a writer and photographer. She is on the internet at @roseolm.
10.15 AM, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Matt coughs and I hear the door to the bathroom close and I’m suddenly aware of the dog’s warmth at my back. She’s sleeping with her long body nestled against mine but she stirs when I do. I turn over to pet her, glad that her spotted pelt is usually the first thing I see in the morning. Now she tucks her long face into my palm and gives me some very strong side-eye. I’ve only had her in New York since January and it’s been a big change, but mostly a good one. Sometimes I resent how much time it takes to walk her, to keep her from chewing everything I own, to listen to her bark, to ward off her desire to hump my sweatered arm. But then she curls her velvety body against mine and sighs deeply and I’m won over again. I’ve been a terrible sleeper my whole life; I can’t turn my brain off and fall asleep at night and I hate the morning so much that I never want it to. The dog likes to sleep late, too, but the inevitability of her needs (to go out, to eat, to bark at the invisible dogs two blocks away) is somehow more motivating than the inevitability of my needs (shower, coffee, a bread-based meal). At first it was strange to feel her constant presence, to notice her eerie green eyes watching me from across the room. Now I ache to see her when we’re apart.
Matt comes back and the dog is happy again, whipping the bed with her tail while resting the downy underside of her neck on my face, her signature move of affection. She leaps off the bed and finds a scrap of an old bully stick (a disgusting but distracting dog chew that made of cow penis) and burrows it in the blanket. Then she uses her nose to bury the stick with invisible dirt, dragging her snout along the blanket in long, intentional strokes.
I confirm the day’s plans with Katie and Emma. We’re going to meet at noon for brunch and spend the day together in lieu of more formal bachelorette celebrations. Then we’ll BBQ at her house with some of our other close friends. I feel ambivalent about not working today and about giving over my EE-day to someone else’s whims, but it makes me happy to make Katie happy and so that’s that. While I’m texting the dog comes back and re-covers my face with her neck.
10.45 AM: The dog jumps off the bed and Matt takes the opportunity to kiss me. The dog is immediately jealous and barks at us to pay attention to her.
The sky is grey and the streets are wet and a damp breeze from the East river shakes moisture from the trees on our heads. We hold hands and watch the dog poo. I notice all the dewy flowers that have bloomed since the warm weather. I moved to this block last August, and so have only just now discovered how many of my neighbors keep wild roses.
11.50 AM: I’m late. I hate being late. And yet I’m always late, like a watch that is perpetually running ten minutes behind, no matter how many times you reset it.
Matt and the dog walk me to meet Katie and Emma. We pass a bar with a notice posted about their pending permit for an outdoor cafe. I say I think that sounds nice—that way you can sit outside and look at people. Matt says, “That’s what you always want to do—look at people.” Our thing still feels so new that his very accurate comment gives me a jolt of delight.
12.40 PM: Brunch at 5 Leaves: We get a table outside and fall into the kind of aimless yet intimate conversation that feels so natural among close friends. We all went to college together over a decade ago but I didn’t know them there. We got close when they both started dating dude friends of mine from college. In a way, I am glad I didn’t know them when I was young and gripped by angst and insecurity. They belong to this chapter, which I’m hoping will be the longest and best chapter of all.
Emma’s dad was visiting while her husband is away. Last night, after her almost one-year-old baby went to bed, the two of them watched The Princess Bride, inspired by references to the film in the Silk Road trial. She got her period during the movie for the first time since getting pregnant. She announces that she is officially 13 years old. She mentions that she’s never spent so much time alone with her dad before. I think about my dad and feel a sharp pang of homesickness. I think of the epic college tour we took to the east coast to look at colleges the summer before senior year, how we took the wrong highway to Newark and almost missed the plane, and how he refused to tell me about his college experience in New York because he “was too stoned the whole time and so remembers nothing.”
A couple passes by and Emma starts panting “ROSIE ROSIE ROSIE A PUPPY”— then points to me and says, “She loves dogs.”
2 PM: We have a second round of drinks. I never drink during the day because it makes me feel slow and dark. But today feels so glittery and comfortable and I crave the saltiness of a good bloody mary. I ask if there will be any ex-boyfriends at Katie’s wedding. Emma’s ex wrote to her a while back and asked her to appear in a video he was making for his friend, whom she also dated. He was compiling advice from ex-girlfriends to the future wife to play at the wedding. We cackle with the insane horribleness of this idea.
We are not the people who sit around and talk about college, but we’re thinking of old boyfriends and the past and there’s a pleasurable triangulation that happens when certain familiar names come up. We all knew a lot of the same people, but not in the same context. Hearing their stories about college feels like watching new episodes of my favorite series. I know the characters but not these particular plotlines.
We’re discussing how some people went to New York every weekend instead of hanging out on our small campus in Connecticut. I always felt like I missed everything when I left, and so I hardly ever did. So much happened in the space of the weekend. Now weekends are languid and lazy and blank or packed with work or activities. It just doesn’t feel like a weekend moves the plot forward anymore. But it definitely felt that way once.
Maybe I was more changeable then. Or more sensitive to the lives changing around me. I wonder how much of my prehistoric FOMO had to do with the weather. I grew up in Southern California where the weather is monotonously pleasant, save for the fog bank that clings to the coastline now and then. Moving to the east coast woke up my senses to the way the sky looks different depending on the time of year, the way temperature has a smell, the dull ache of 4 pm sunsets, the sudden bloom of spring. Maybe it was just the seasons; time moves faster when the world was always transforming into something else. My happiest moments of those years were maybe the most boring—the meandering walks between dorms on gusty autumn nights; the first time I saw an ice storm; the afternoon sometime during my first spring when we went to the city fair and rode the dinky Ferris wheel. I tell Katie and Emma about this afternoon, about how we drove back to campus as night fell, then sat in the car as the mixtape made for me by one of my high school friends played to the end of side B. My car had only a radio and this was a decade before Bluetooth, so we were listening on a $20 boombox and the machine’s speakers buzzed with the bass. We didn’t speak as the echoey electronic chirps stretched into ribbons of distorted chords and the sky outside turned from dusty blue to deep sapphire. “There was a kind of magic to that afternoon that is hard to describe,” I fumble. “College was really, really magical,” Emma says, sighing. I laugh lovingly at her earnestness, even though I’m clearly the one with the sentimental streak. Emma and I pay for Katie’s brunch.
3 PM, Williamsburg: Katie wants to get manicures and pedicures together, which feels like a loaded activity in the post-NY Times expose-era. I’m a disgusting nail-biter and have been my entire life and manicures are the only thing that prevent me from ripping my finger nubs to shreds. It’s painful and embarrassing and I don’t even notice it’s happening. This is the first time I’ve gone back to a salon since the article and I feel weird about it.
In the last few years I’ve been single a lot, and thus have gone for what has seemed like interminable stretches without anyone touching me in a ~sensual~ way. At the salon, the ladies pull your foot, grip your toes, push your cuticles, and press your palms in a way that feels personal but not intimate. I think of all the times people touch each other and don’t really feel it. And how sometimes you feel it so much. I think of the semester I studied abroad, when one of my roommates was blind; her boyfriend was blind, too. One afternoon I started into the kitchen but stopped when I saw them through the window in the door. They were unmoving, their arms around each other, their eyes open. I backed away without a sound.
Yesterday, walking to the train, I crossed paths with a man and his tapping cane. A truck pulled up at the stoplight, music blasting. “Look at this faker ass fool with his fake stick,” the driver shouted. I looked back, searching the driver’s face for a smile. There was none there. Cars sped up and down the street as the man gingerly tapped off the sidewalk. “Yeah, you should cross now! You dumb fuck!” the driver shouted. The light changed and the driver took a left in front of the man and speeded out of sight. The man waited a few seconds and walked across the street.
4.30 PM, Bedford Avenue: When we emerge from the nail salon, the morning’s humid grey has evaporated and the sun is shining brightly. I usually try to avoid Bedford Avenue, not because I disdain it (there is much cause for disdain), but because it’s like seeing an ex with a new significant other. We used to know each other well, and now we don’t, and it’s fucking weird.
We stop into a store that is closing. Years ago I used to walk home to Greenpoint from the L train stop through the park, and stop in here on my way just to fondle the fancy clothes. The owner recognizes me from my lurking days (I def still lurk, just in other quarters) and I ask her about what she’s doing next. She says she’s taking time off and then opening a new store. “But in another neighborhood. I’m kind of over Williamsburg.”
5 PM, Wythe Avenue
Emma jumps in a cab to relieve her babysitter. She’s coming back to meet us at Katie’s later but with the babe in tow. Katie and I walk down Wythe and I look up to see the sky streaked with wispy cirrus clouds. My mother always calls them horsetail clouds. They are really called that but for a long time I thought that was just because she was a horse girl as a child. She was obsessed with horses. She used to draw them on all her notebooks and diaries and she can still sketch a pony in two minutes flat. I’m not sure she actually wanted to ride a horse but she definitely wanted to be one. She always tells the story about how she’d run around her house on all fours. One afternoon she felt a stabbing pain in her knee. Her mother put a Band-Aid on it. But after a week the knee still throbbed with pain and off they went to the doctor. When he pulled the Band-Aid off, a long sewing needle came out with it. Now there’s a hard knot of scar below her kneecap, and every time she tells this story she lets me press that bony mass.
5.30 PM: I follow Katie to a store where the exquisite, shapeless garments are organized by color, and the only colors are grey, cream, blue, and olive. I try on two different jumpsuits—one the color of summer sky in the softest spun linen and one in a sheeny olive cotton. I look like a large child in both. Sometimes I like looking like a large child but perhaps the jumpsuit is a step too far.
The store is filled with the hippie accouterments I know from my childhood in California that have become so fashionable in the last few years. This shop sells $700 muumuus and bundles of sage and vintage textiles and hand-crafted pottery and crystals and incense adobes like the kind you could buy at the sporting goods store on Pico Boulevard. They also sold log cabins for incense and my mom had one that she filled with change. I loved removing the roof and inhaling the smell of match sulfur and the metallic perfume of old coins. I have always loved going through my mother’s things. When I was a child I’d creep into her room when she was at work and go through her drawers and boxes, not so much to find anything in particular, but to just to look, to touch, to know. I’d go into her closet, which was in a slightly moldy crawl space off her bedroom, and lie on the soft carpeting while looking up at the clothes, running my fingers through the tassels, silks, dresses, and suits hanging above. I’d open up the acoustic guitar case that she’d hidden in the back and pet the plush velvet interior. I taught myself to play Johnny b Goode in secret during the long afternoons when there was nothing to do and no one to catch me there.
This designer hippie store is selling some really goofy prism glasses. I start shooting selfies through the refracting glass while wearing various strange hats, then make Katie pose on a beaded chair while she tries on shoes she’s thinking about wearing for her wedding. Katie buys the glasses as a present for me because, she says, she can see how happy they make me.
6.30 PM Katie and Noah’s apartment, Williamsburg
Katie is getting ready for the BBQ when Noah returns from the store with their dog in tow. She is a lovely bearded mutt and she pees a little when she greets me. Noah is making Pimms cups, which in my opinion is the most delicious way to eat a cucumber besides eating a pickle. Someone is skywriting but we can only see an E and an R from their leafy backyard.
7 PM: Mark and Emily show up. Mark is my ex. Emily is his wife, and she is pregnant. I already knew that, but now Mark gives me the news in the most awkward way possible: he gestures in her direction and announces that “Emily’s not drinking tonight.”
Emma returns with her baby. Matt arrives with a beet salad and the dog, and she and the other dog begin a night of endless play. More friends show up, all of them part of this small group of college friends that have stayed close. Katie is getting married to Noah at the end of the summer, but before that they are leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles because Noah has a medical fellowship there. They are neither the first nor will they be the last to leave for the west coast. There is at least one other couple in this garden that plans to move to LA before the end of this year.
Katie announces that American Pharoah has won the Triple Crown. “First time since ’78”—she catches me raising my eyebrow. “Sorry, I’ve been listening to a lot of NPR.” The horse races remind everyone of the period where some of them would go to watch the “tiny horses,” a.k.a. the greyhound races in Bridgeport. “The dog track is so depressing.” “But they have free hot dogs!”
Senior year of college I returned to our house after a few days away to find an empty house. I went into the kitchen, which was sticky with beer and crowded with beer cans. There was a small paper bag sitting on the kitchen counter, which I assumed was leftovers that someone forgot to put away. I opened it up. Inside, was a poop. I screamed, and hurled it out of the kitchen door. When my friends returned later that night, boozy and broke from the dog track, I confronted them about the “gift” they’d left behind. They had no idea what I was talking about, and I had to lead them to the backyard to make them believe that I wasn’t making it up. No one ever fessed up to leaving it, and so it remains a great unsolved mystery.
8.45—Noah makes hot dogs, now that everyone’s in the mood. My wiener dog stares at everyone’s hot dog enviously. “Don’t be a cannibal,” Mark tells her. She finds a used-up hot-dog pack and tries to bite Noah when he takes it away from her. Darkness is falling and the baby is getting cranky. I hold him for a while so Emma can set up his pack-n-play. I bounce him on my knee and stave off his bad mood for a few more minutes. He drinks some milk while I contemplate his eyelashes. His eyelashes are a wonder. They touch his eyebrows, and have since the day he was born. I should know, I was there.
Carl’s been in Honduras, where he helps organize coffee farmers. Aaron went to Honduras in order to ride a homemade submarine for a reality show he produced. “Would you rather go in a homemade submarine or a homemade helicopter?” someone asks. Consensus: both are terrifying.
I get caught taking notes and I explain what’s up. Carl said that his mother recently found his diary from age 15. He doesn’t remember writing it. His mother promised she didn’t read it. But of course she read it. My diaries are hidden all over my bedroom in my parents’ house. It would be death if anyone ever read them. Jess admits to writing Jodie Sweetin from Full House a fan letter. Andrea wrote to Michael Jackson (five pages, front and back). Carl wrote a letter to Socks Clinton saying that his cat looked a lot like him. Socks wrote him back and said that he definitely saw the resemblance. I tell everyone about the time I wrote a love letter to a boy in my third grade class professing my deep feelings. I decorated it with animal and flower stickers and mailed it to his house. In school the following Monday he came up to me and asked, “What the hell?” I was so humiliated that I never talked to him again. Years later I heard from his mother that he’d died of cancer. She’d gone through his things and found my letter folded into an old wallet. No one ever knows what to say when I tell that story. I don’t, either.
11 PM: Noah says an emotional goodbye to Carl before they both realize that they’ll see each other in a week. Noah in a tender state and alcohol is making it come to the surface. Katie wonders what it would be like if his dad was at their wedding. Noah’s dad died before they got together and she never met him. “He would have loved that you make things,” he tells her.
Noah is an OB/GYN and 70% of the time he’s present the conversation turns to women’s health. I’m grateful to be friends with men that love to sit around discussing women’s health. Emma’s period comes up again. It’s her first period in almost two years because of her pregnancy. Noah says that you have to breastfeed every two hours in order to depend on it as a birth control. He tells us that you can get pregnant two weeks before your period, so if you haven’t just gotten it since you gave birth, you could be fertile at any moment. He says that fertility is incredibly hard to explain. Most people don’t understand it. Even women, he says. “It’s taken me all of medical school and four years of residency and I only am just starting to understand it now.” “I have a question: can you get pregnant from precum?” Andrea asks, apropos of nothing. (The answer: Maybe.)
12 PM: Things get really silly now. Suffice it to say that people are using their fingers to simulate sex moves between finger-legged humans.
1 AM, Greenpoint: We walk the groggy dog around the block. The Empire State Building is lit up bright white. There is very little traffic in my neighborhood at night and so all the noises echo off the pavement. My dog senses people approaching from a block away, and freezes in her tracks, her paw half-lifted in the air. I lead her to the sandy strip where she likes to pee. Across the street, a drunk woman is bragging about how she can afford rent in midtown but would rather live in Brooklyn, reminding me of that Broad City joke.
1.30 AM: We get in bed and the dog burrows down to where our feet are. She digs into the mattress as if she’s trying to get somewhere on the mattress and then passes out, exhausted from her hours of playing with the other dog. My bed is slightly too soft and getting into it sometimes feels like getting in someone’s shirt pocket. I ask Matt if he had a nice day and he says he did, he wrote about it in his diary. The peonies I bought myself last weekend are wilted on the window sill and soft voices are rising from the backyards behind my building and Matt is already passing out. I don’t want the day to end just yet. I open the book that’s next to my bed and realize I’ve lost my place. So I read the first line again: “Today I wondered, What is the worth of a day?” I’m sleepy and the dog is curled at my hip but I want to stay awake a while longer, just to have these last few minutes to myself. I realize that I haven’t had a single moment alone all day. This is strange and new. For a long time it was just me. Now it’s not.