Soft Places

I’ve always said that if I ever got famous, my entire bio would just read “Helena Fitzgerald is very tired.” This is funny because you’d have to be famous to say that. It doesn’t tell you anything about me; everybody else is very tired too. I spend a lot of time looking for ways to be more alone, and if you’re looking for a way to be the most possibly alone, the middle of the night is a good place to look for it. There’s a moment, sometime in the sweet spot after 1am, before 4am, when the city goes almost completely silent and it feels as though everyone else has died. Finding a space in the twenty-four hour day to be alone isn’t just about being by oneself. It’s about finding a space when you aren’t supposed to be with anyone, when being alone isn’t a isnt a problem that needs to be fixed. Being alone at a crowded party isn’t being alone at all, even though it’s also the most alone you can be. The thing about this time of night isn’t just about the city being silent - the night of the election, at 3am, New York was the quietest I had ever heard it, absolutely silent, but it didn’t feel at all like being alone. The silence was stuffed to bursting with presence, built out of all the other people awake and not making noise, people standing in the nowhere of a moment further into the future than they thought they’d ever have to get, the sound of thousands of champagne corks stuffed firm in their bottles, un-propelled. But on most nights, what’s so good about this time of night is that the world continues on along its tracks, keeping itself in place; it just doesn’t include you. Being awake late at night in a city is similar to being up very high above one - everything goes on just as it had, but you can stand back and watch it turn, pulling yourself out of the maelstrom and observing, for once a spectator rather than an actor, briefly relieved of consequence, as though you could pass ghostlike through the mass and volume of bodies and no one would feel a thing. No one could embrace you and walls couldn’t hold you.

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