It is a strange intimacy we share, my dear reader, as you and I sit in nearly the same position, the same distance from our computer screens, and stare at the same image (that of Win Butler’s oh-so-serious earnestness), and think the same thought: where is he? Where is Reilly Owens and what is he doing?
Reilly Owens is building up a life, or imagining that he is. Perhaps he is still at work tearing down the adornments of the last life in search of a true structure. The truth is, I often have less idea than you do of where I am. But let’s not make this a sob story or an apologia. Here I am.
New York is as it was. It is winter still and I hate it. I stay locked up in my small room in my parents’ house when I am not working. I am paralyzed by the weight of my ambition, so much is the quantity of work I must do that I don’t know where to start and instead spend all my free time reading or watching episodes of television series I have decided it important for me to watch, for my education. Television because films are too much a commitment; and besides, I would rather abstain than watch my longed-for Renoir on a twelve-inch Powerbook screen.
I have worked a month: long, odd hours that I cannot get used to, and the process of setting up a life after selling off the old one drains my account as soon as it is filled. All my books are in boxes in a corner of my room. I have had to buy bookcases. I have had to buy a bed. I need a television for the Renoirs and a desk and chair because the third-hand secretary I have always used is loathsome to me, ugly and uncomfortable. I need a frame for my Jules et Jim poster.
I will buy all these things and put them in the room in my parents’ house that I have lived in since 2001, because New York is ridiculous, a town that must be dead because the only bright things I can name are its museums, storehouses of antiquity. New York, I do not love you. I will not work forty-five hours a week or more to live meagerly within your exhausted aura.
I remain with my parents because I like the commute to the city, three hours a day when I am held hostage and cannot dither between tasks. I read. When I am at work, I am stifled, a meat puppet hired out for a few hours, unthinking, unchallenged, blank. At home, I am pulled in all directions by all my selves: I accomplish everything through procrastination, cooking when I should clean, cleaning when I should run an errand, doing that errand when I should write, and never writing. But in between home and work, I read, and that is my accomplishment and my joy.
I am a bit lost, as must be natural at the very final close of a splendid chapter. Now I must write the next chapter of my life, and I am doing all the research necessary for it. I have an idea of what I do not like, and what I need, and where it must all end. Faith that I am good enough to pull it off, and goddamn these New York winters.