9:56 AM, a very small bathroom, Bedford–Stuyvesant: My urine is bright yellow. Fluorescent, almost. I’ve been taking these new vitamins that are supposed to help with the physical and mental side effects of stress, but I’m pretty sure all they’re doing is making my pee look like glowstick fluid.
12:32 PM, a twin bed with sea-green sheets, Bedford–Stuyvesant: I pretend to be disappointed in myself when I realize I slept past noon, even though I sleep this late every Saturday. I reach for my phone: I have 12 Instagram notifications—rollover from the late-night selfie I posted of me and Emilie at Irene’s, the chronically empty Polish dive bar that we always visit this time of year. Emilie and I used to work at The FADER together. Now, she’s the editor-in-chief of Thump, VICE’s electronic music vertical. Later today, I will describe her to someone as “one of my truest, greatest New York friends.”
1:56 PM, my living room: My roommate Sarah, who’s 21 and plays drums in a punk band, is opening a yerba mate energy shot with her teeth. “Don’t tell anybody I was listening to the Antlers in my bed,” she says when she sees me taking notes on my iPhone. “That’s private.”
3:57, bus stop, the corner of Myrtle and Throop: Sarah realizes she forgot her donut-shaped change purse, which is where she stores her weed paraphernalia. But it’s fine, she assures me, because she already rolled “the fattest joint you’ve ever seen.” Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” emanates from a slow-moving motorcycle with a sidecar. Sarah snaps a picture of me. I look at it and decide that it’s good. I look good in it.
5:02 PM, near the entrance to the park: Sarah lights the joint, which is comically large. I take a puff and then a smaller second one. Sarah is singing an Alex G song and taking a selfie with a purple flower. Trammell texts me and asks if I’m around; we find him sitting on a bench a few minutes later. He’s got headphones in his ears and looks very peaceful. He hits the joint too.
6:04 PM, Schnipper’s midday birthday hang, in the park near the tennis courts: Schnipper used to be the editor-in-chief of The FADER. He’s really smart and loves dogs and the Grateful Dead. Today’s his birthday, though I’m not sure how old he’s turning. The celebratory hang is mostly New York writer–types a couple years older than me, like Pete Macia—another former FADER editor whom I never worked with, but whom I remember best for his heart-wrenching 2009 cover story about the French rock band Phoenix, in which he included several personal details about a breakup—and Emilie, who brought some delicious coffee cake left over from a lunch with her family. My old coworker Alex is here, too. He says I look “very high school,” which I process as a compliment.
6:45 PM: The sun is warm on the back of my neck. I look over at Sarah, who has these big, round red sunglasses on. I imagine that if she removed them she would look incredibly stoned. I try to smoke a cigarette, but I’m forced to put it out after two drags because there’s a cop.
7:20 PM, Clinton Hill: Trammell, Emilie, Sarah, and me are walking up Dekalb Avenue. We pass the Pratt campus, which is buzzing with back-to-school energy. I tell them the story of my first New York party, which involved me sneaking away during a high school field trip to hang out in a Pratt dorm room. It was the first time I tried Sparks—a boozy, pre–Four Loko energy drink that became a favorite of mine for a brief time in the late aughts.
8:12 PM, Taqueria Tepango, Clinton Hill: I’m so full I wish that I were dead.
9:10 PM, the street, Clinton Hill: We decide to make the 1.5-mile trek to Don Pedro, a bar in East Williamsburg that doubles as a punk venue, on foot. A beat-up white car with no headlights rolls past us slowly. I think it’s a Pontiac, but I’m not sure. I don’t know anything about cars.
9:45 PM, Don Pedro, East Williamsburg: We walk in and a band I’ve never heard of is playing loud, spastic rock songs. They’re technically not great, but I’m entranced anyway; I haven’t been to a show in a week or two, and it feels good to be someplace where the music is so loud that it’s hard to think. Sarah’s bandmate Carlos and his girlfriend Brittany are here too. In the middle of the crowd, a man with a round gut is reading a dilapidated Vonnegut paperback, seemingly unbothered.
9:45 PM: I’m at the bar and I ask for a double vodka soda with lime, which is probably not a punk order, but I don’t care because it’s too hot for beer or brown liquor. Sarah says, “I would kiss 90 percent of the boys in this room,” and then, as a joke, I lean in to kiss her on the lips, but she turns her head slightly and my face collides with her cheek. A boy I don’t recognize who says he’s been to my apartment before hands me a photocopied flyer for a Warthog show. The address just says “ask a punk.”
10:49 PM: This band from New Orleans is on, and they’re kind of sick, but I’m looking at my drink and watching the limes bob up and down at about half the speed of the music and the lights. For a couple of seconds the whole world slips away around me. The sensation is about halfway between a panic attack and a psychedelic drug experience. I snap out of it when Sarah grabs my arm. “Hold my drink,” she slurs. “I’m going to mosh.”
12:10 AM, outside, East Williamsburg: I’m smoking a cigarette and trying to send a text to Emilie, but it’s not going through. A boy with a spiky belt is talking about the L train closing. I can’t tell if it’s comforting or depressing to know that the punks talk about the same dull shit that everyone else does. I hear Sarah say, “I just want to make out with someone beautiful.” An air conditioner drips on me. I move a couple of inches to the left.
12:30 AM, Post No Bills, East Williamsburg: We’re in the backyard of this bar with a bunch of other people who were at the the show and Sarah keeps ordering tequila shots. I’m talking to a very tall woman named Steph. She has long, light-brown hair and a flip phone. She says she’s from Buffalo, but her accent sounds sort of placeless. She used to work in coffee production, but now she’s between jobs. “I’m a roamer,” she tells me. She lights a spliff and passes it to me. It’s tobacco-heavy, which I like. For some reason I tell her that I’ve been feeling anxious all night and I can’t figure out why. She says she doesn’t have any Xanax, but, if I wanted, she would accompany me to the street while I smoked a cigarette. She says she would stand guard and fuck with anyone who tried to bother me. I don’t take her up on it, but later, while lying awake in bed listening to my overworked A/C unit wheeze and sputter, I think about how nice it was that she offered at all.