I’m on the twenty-ninth floor of the Ramada New Yorker two blocks from Penn Station in midtown Manhattan. There’s no central-air here (only one of those air conditioners you stick out of a window), and the room feels historic–as if it hasn’t changed since before I was born. The comforter bears a floral design of pinks and dark greens, and I can’t tell whether the colors are meant to seem dull and understated or if the blanket is just very worn. The room seems smaller than it is, a regular (in the geometric sense) room of about sixty-four square feet. The bathroom walls are covered in sea-green ceramic; more than a few tiles are cracked. I’ve never seen this before, but there are four faucets, two to control the showhead and two to regulate the bottom spigot.
Lisa’s voice filters through my cellphone’s speaker, only slightly distored. She’ll be on the phone all night, on the bedside desk. We spend many nights like this since I’ve been back working off of Wall Street. We provide mutual comfort just idling on the phone together, the only sounds being the hiss of the speakerphone, the constant gushing chill from the air conditioner, and the fingers tapping on keys. I don’t enjoy being away from her. If she is life, then how do I justify the time that I spend away? My only answer is that my love for her must be tempered by my love for all that is not her.