Tausif Noor (@tausifnoor) is a writer living outside of New York.
7:00AM My bed
I tell myself that if I wake up early on a weekend, I will be a better person — a person who is responsible, intelligent, good. I am trying to give myself arbitrary routines. So far, they have not stuck.
8:30AM My bed, still
Half-lucid I reach for my phone, turn off the alarm. I think about the things I have to do today: finish translating a documentary, start research on an article due early next week, laundry. I open Instagram and start scrolling.
9:00AM My bed, still
Thirty minutes later, I’ve scrolled through everyone’s vacation pictures and watched all of their stories. Inexplicably, everyone in my social circle is in Vietnam. I get out of bed.
I still feel guilty for not being able to meet my self-imposed — aspirational — wake up time. Since I’m writing these in my Notes app, I come across another forgotten list of aspirations: 2018 Goals. I don’t bother to open them since I know I haven’t met any of them. I think about a Frank O’Hara poem I like:
after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is
to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness
since what is done is done and forgiveness isn’t love
Forgiving yourself is easy anyway, when you believe yourself to be the protagonist in your life; all actions can be justified as character development.
I shower, put my clothes in the washing machine, and eat some leftover pasta and a container of key lime yogurt. I like the languorousness of Saturdays, the mundane chores. I sit down at the dining room table and start the translation.
Translating is a slow, tedious task. I have to start and stop and repeat the audio so many times. I take a break by responding to an email survey from a poet:
What is desire?
Is desire the same as longing?
How & when does desire end?
I respond with my favorite Robert Hass line: “Longing we say, because desire is full of endless distances.”
An editor I’m going to work with calls me, and we talk about an essay that I’m working on. It’s the first time we’ve spoken. Writing is often so lonely, and it’s so rare that I hear an editor’s voice. Hers is the beautiful, lilting kind of accent that instantly puts me at ease.
I hang up the phone and listen to the Zayn Malik cover of Beyoncé’s “Me, Myself and I” on repeat, and get back to work.
En route to meet K & A for a drink. “Return of the Mack” is playing on the radio, and it’s raining. I’m late but that’s because I changed my outfit three times.
5:08PM South Philadelphia
A is waiting for me at the bar, and I’m so happy to see her. She’s moved back to Philadelphia to start med school, and I’m excited that she’ll be around for the next few years. We catch up while we wait for K, who is running late.
We all met four years ago in India — we arrived in Delhi on this very day, actually. Four years feels like nothing and so very far away. I’m nervous about seeing K, who I haven’t seen since I left Delhi in 2015. For what seemed like forever, he was all I thought about. Now, I think about other things. Not better things, but other things.
5:38PM South Philadelphia
K arrives with a friend who is visiting from out of town. We order fries, and catch up. The conversation is easy, a mix of nostalgia for our time in India, gossip about the people we knew from our time there, getting everyone up to date on life changes. What I thought would hurt, doesn’t.
A leaves to go on a date, and K and his friend and I decide to go to dinner: more catching up, this time about relationships, careers, goals. Two bottles of wine, orange and Lambrusco, make me chatty and appropriately effervescent.
9:15PM V Street
We decide to get one last round of cocktails; it’s K’s friend last night in the city, so we’re being extra as his friend keeps repeating. Before I leave, K and I make tentative plans to see each other before he leaves Philadelphia on Friday. I hold my breath, just a little bit.
10:14PM West Philadelphia
I debrief my friends, a straight couple, on my night with K. They think I’ve handled it very maturely. My friend shows me pictures from here recent trip to Iceland: black sand, Olafur Eliasson. We drink a round of palomas and head to the Dolphin, where there’s a 90s house night.
11:11PM The Dolphin bathroom
A man asks me if I’m writing in my phone because I think I’m going to forget that I used the bathroom. I ask him if he’s heard of Knausgaard. I text T who is walking over the Williamsburg Bridge: Pissing in the club urinal and I’m feeling like a real fag. Do you know? The bass thump. The smell. I text J and tell him to leave whatever he’s doing and come dance.
12:30AM The Dolphin
C & B arrive, but their Lyft driver had a run in with the cops. My straight friends text me to say they left a while ago, but they couldn’t find me, and they hope I have fun. The rest of us dance, but at some point, the music changes from 90s house to something like South Jersey music, which is disorienting.
1:30AM South Philadelphia
We all leave the Dolphin and walk up Passyunk, complaining about New York and its cultural shadow looming over the Pennsylvania state line. We find a pretty flower shop and take drunken pictures. Somehow, we are the only people alive. We decide to get cheesesteaks at Geno’s, but I can’t tell you if the cheesesteaks are better there or at Pat’s, because I’ve never had one sober. While we’re waiting to pay, I realize I’ve lost my wallet. We decide to retrace our steps. This time, I don’t hold my breath.
2:05AM The Dolphin
The bartender graciously lets us back in, and we talk for a bit. In the harsh fluorescent lighting, I try to find my wallet to no avail. It’s the one nice thing I own, and I stupidly took it out tonight, but I’m wise enough to know to leave a spare credit card and ID at home. I give up and call a Lyft — it’s been too long of a night.
I drunkenly try taking a bath, which doesn’t really work out, and go shiver naked in my bed. When I first moved here from New York, I was almost unbearably lonely. The days were so long. Now, I have friends who’ll trawl through the streets for my stupid possessions. after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is to find forgiveness.