12:36 a.m., Club Langston on Atlantic Avenue
I’m in a sparsely populated black gay club. I catch whiffs of liquor and leather. I’ve assumed the role of wingman for my friend Stefan, but he says he wants me to flirt too while we’re here. I tell him tonight is “not about me” (which is only slightly bullshit). I see two men kiss as a blue strobe light hugs their silhouettes. They cup each other’s asses as if to say “we’re here…all four of us.”
12:40 a.m., the same spot, half of a rum and coke in
The lights go from blue to green to red, and I feel more air from the vents. It’s a comfort to know that I could sweat on the dance floor and come back to this spot for refuge.
1:03 a.m., the dance floor, one rum and coke in
Reggae. Finally. Our friend Yobi joins us. Time becomes irrelevant and I chat up a tall man who says he’s just moved to New York. I push Stefan in his general direction and lock eyes with another guy at the bar. But tonight is still allegedly not about me.
I mostly sway and dance in front of Yobi all night, admiring his smile — he has a great one. A man in a suit tries to grab my waist and dance behind me, but I pull him to the front instead. I catch the rhythm of his lackadaisical dutty wine and within half a song he seems overwhelmed. He eyes me, as if to say, “ok yung one I see you.” I feel the pride of my Jamaican ancestors.
3:30 a.m., a roof in Crown Heights
Yobi, Stefan and I walk from the club to the roof of Stefan’s apartment building. I pull out my phone and play the Broadway cast album of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Yobi and I perform about 40 minutes of the show, alternating roles and modulating keys. I playfully brush Yobi’s cheek as I pretend to be Anatole, the love interest of Natasha in the show. Stefan is amused, but eventually falls asleep. We keep singing.
4:10 a.m., in a cab home
The A/C in this cab is exceptional and appreciated.
4:15 a.m., outside my apartment in Crown Heights
I pull up outside my building hungry, but Domino’s is closed and no bodegas near me are still making chopped cheese. I see two men walking on my block hand in hand. I wonder how their night has been.
4:17 a.m., my apartment
I walk into my apartment and turn on the A/C unit in my room, which is exceptional and appreciated. I lean in front of it and dance to myself, with “Bruk Off Yuh Back” playing in one part of my brain, The Great Comet in the other.
5:09 a.m., my bed
I put a mask on my face that helps me breathe through my sleep apnea at night and see what I think is lightning, but hear no thunder. For the second time this week, I contemplate the possibility of the Rapture happening. I check Twitter to see if anyone has posted about the Rapture happening. The Rapture has not happened. I scroll through Grindr as a reminder that the same men in my neighborhood are also on Grindr at 5 a.m., and maybe thinking about the Rapture. Or butts. Or, like me…both.
5:23 a.m., my bed
I continue to see lightning but hear no thunder, which makes me wonder how much I even know about how thunder and lightning works. I also wonder if what I’m seeing is lightning or just cars passing by. I don’t check the weather because it’s more exciting that way.
9:55 a.m., my bed
I wake up thinking it’s earlier in the day, but it’s not. I set my alarm for later on and move my phone across the room to force me out of bed when it goes off. Worried that it’s too far and I won’t hear it, I turn down the A/C, which — yes— has been exceptional and appreciated.
12:44 p.m., my bed
I jolt out of bed (without the alarm) thinking I missed the production of Sweeney Todd that I bought tickets to see that day, but my timing is good. I have more than enough time to get to the Village.
1:43 p.m., the 5 train
As I roll into Manhattan on the subway, three women are talking about the WHAT ARE THOSE meme.
“He just pointed at my shoes and screamed WHAT ARE THOOOOSE?!? So weird.”
I want to lean over and explain, but instead I pop in my ear buds and listen to the original cast recording of Sweeney Todd to prepare for the show.
2:02 p.m., West 4th Street
It seems like EVERY MAN in the city is wearing chino shorts, high black socks and high top sneakers. I make a mental note to employ this look more sparingly.
2:16 p.m., in my seat at the Barrow Street Theatre for Sweeney Todd
“I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston is playing in the intimate theater, which has been transformed into a London pie shop. Good GOD, theater is so amazing. It smells like library books and warm bread. Two men beside me are discussing how one of them saw the original 1979 production of Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou. It’s exciting that someone next to me witnessed the very music I played on the subway in real life. They also mention seeing The Great Comet and LOVING IT. I feel a swell of joy from my toes to my legs to my chest and up to my mouth that leads me to blurt out that “I’M SEEING IT A THIRD TIME TOMORROW.” They smile at me and we chat for a few minutes about plays. I think about how lovely it’d be for me to have this kind of conversation in 40 years with some enthusiastic, depressed, soul-searching 20-something. If they feel anything like me in this moment, they will appreciate the small talk.
3:58 p.m., in my seat
Norm Lewis (playing Sweeney Todd) approaches my seat at the end of Act One, sings directly into my face, and for a moment delivers me from all pain, while simultaneously terrifying me. Amazing.
4:07 p.m., intermission
I notice a guy wearing a T-shirt from Indecent, a play I saw on Broadway days before. I approach him and his family, who are visiting from Miami. The father is wearing a T-shirt from the rock band Boston. He barely acknowledges me in the conversation. The son and mother are nice.
5:25 p.m., on the sidewalk in the West Village
I stand alone, clutching my Sweeney Todd program like a kid who just got off his favorite roller coaster. I see a Five Guys across the street and debate getting a burger.
5:33 p.m., Five Guys
I order a bacon cheeseburger, and then call an Uber Pool back to Brooklyn. I successfully game the pricing by walking around the block for 10 minutes and refreshing the app until the price levels out to $11. This makes me feel thrifty or something, and maybe a little less guilty about not taking the train.
6:16 p.m., back at my apartment
I get naked and eat the Five Guys on my bed.
7:30 p.m., my bedroom
I record an Instagram Story of me singing a bit of Sweeney Todd. I haven’t sung consistently since college, and I’m reminded of the feeling of forgetting how to do something that I was so certain defined me. I look up sheet music and try to retrain myself to sight-sing notes on a page. It’s like looking at a language I feel so close to in my soul but don’t know how to speak anymore. Trying to relearn it activates an invisible lump in my chest that’s been hidden for years. It’s developed cobwebs. It’s been growing dormant and unfamiliar to the rest of my body, but it still thumps, adjacent to my heart. Maybe they’ll become one again. My notes are placed oddly. I sing at the top of my lungs and notice that my ceiling is lower. Everything is different when I try to sing with technique by myself: The way my tongue touches my teeth on “L” consonants. The moment my vibrato kicks in. I am an instrument that needs tuning, but the tuning methods I need are foreign to me.
8:42 p.m., at the door to Branch Ofc. in Crown Heights
I’m meeting up with Jazmine, Raillan, and Jake. I pull my ear buds out. I’ve been listening to La La Land on the walk over to the bar. I unabashedly make almost anyone who visits my apartment watch this movie, which after months of my Moonlight-better-win-this-damn-Oscar-fueled hatred, I have come to love. I sashay over to Jazmine, who is sitting on a picnic table in the outdoor area of the bar. She looks so beautiful and I will tell her this several times tonight.
9:47 p.m., in the back outdoor area of the bar
Raillan and Jake have joined us. Raillan, one of the smartest people I know, is talking about science fiction. I’m trying to sit comfortably in the picnic table against the wall, but my back starts to ache. Our conversation shifts from dating, to Saturn returns, to tattoos, to music, to the butts of men around us.
I feel loved.
10:57 p.m., The Corners in Bed-Stuy
We’ve moved to a birthday party for our friend Bijan. I slink to the bathroom in the back after a few greetings and hugs. I try to lean seductively against the wall to take a selfie but I trigger the hand dryer, which blows against my arm. I drop my phone, pick it back up, and take about 8 photos.
I feel cute.