How To Live in the Present

And Stop Living for “One Day”

Brooklyn Bridge

One Day

When I wake up, my first thought it always coffee. I’m very unoriginal in that way. Our apartment is just shy of 700 square feet so the walk to the kitchen is short. I’ve forgotten to empty the coffee filter from the day before. So I do that and spoon out more overpriced grounds to replace the ones before. One day I’ll have more time to use the Chemex that takes up counter space beside me. For now, I use the drip brew that’s faster but always spills a little water out the side.

It’s Sunday and slow so I take Olive for a morning walk. She bites at her leash while we wait for the elevator. Then quickly forgets it’s there as we step outside onto our quiet little street. Our building and those around it have been preserved for their history. Adjacent to us is the restaurant where George Washington dined and sent off his troops into battle. Across from that is the now fully pedestrianized Stone Street, still cobblestoned and cared for as a monument to times long past.

Outside of this protected little pocket we’re surrounded by new construction and skyscrapers – casting shadows over our six-story home, telling of all that’s changed. Their glass-lined edges bend light against our multi-colored brick, bouncing off fire escapes and chipping mortar, stinging my eyes as I follow Olive’s nose-driven trail.

When we leave New York, she’ll be a better walker. Less distraction and probably less trash on the ground to try to eat. More time to properly train her. For now she’s cute and I’m tired so on she sniffs.

When we leave New York a lot will change. We’ll have more than 700 square feet to exist in. We’ll probably have a car again. We’ll pay less in taxes. And maybe we’ll think about kids then. Or another dog. That might actually pee outside instead of on little padded squares on our kitchen floor. (The dog, not the kids.)

Steven will play more golf. I will find more time to write. We’ll have more couples to go out with for drinks or dinner. And surely, Olive won’t pull so hard on the leash.

Coffee in hand, these thoughts in mind, she leads me down the block to the water’s edge. The Hudson scissors by us as we head north. To our left, the Brooklyn bridge stands steady. A perfect muddy hue of nostalgia. Dwarfing its admirers in both size and spirit. It looks like longing – like it aches for something unspoken, a homesickness for another time, a time of belonging. Or maybe that’s me.

I don’t have time to know because we’ve found an old piece of pizza on the ground and we’re trying to eat it.

Leave it, come, let’s go, a gentle yank, and we’re off again.

We edge away from the water and round the corner to Battery Park. The bridges are behind us now. As is the sad little dog park void of grass. One day we’ll live where there are grass-filled dog parks, or better yet, have a yard of our own. I promise this to Olive silently and sip my now cold coffee. She doesn’t respond.

Instead, we navigate the growing hives of people huddled around maps or red-shirted workers pointing left for The Statue of Liberty and right for Ellis Island. Normally the red T-shirts swarm me too with one word questions increasing in volume until I respond or pass them. Statue? Statue? Statue?

Most days I take offense at this. One day I’ll look enough like a New Yorker that they’ll know I’m not here to tour the Statue. Today, the coffee and dog must be a giveaway. Or maybe the tours don’t allow pets.

Olive weaves and bobs between groups and stragglers. We make it to the grass to find that it’s fenced off again. Probably from all the rain we’ve had. Disappointed, we turn for home.

I note all the things I need to do today. Buy dishwasher detergent. Get groceries for the week. Clear my inbox. Finish folding the laundry. As well as all the things I want to do today. Go for a run. Write my newsletter. Call my mom. Finish my book.

And I think, one day our dishwasher won’t be so tiny that we need to run it all the time. And we’ll have a car so we can buy more groceries than just what we can carry. One day I won’t be a full time accountant, God willing. One day we’ll have a washer and dryer IN our home.

I’ll be a better runner. And a better writer. And live closer to my parents. And have more time to read.

And surely, Olive won’t pull so hard on the damn leash.

Our front door comes into view and we sniff closer. The magic of New York glistens all around us. The weight of it – all the possibility and history and awe and energy – blankets these buildings like morning dew. The bridges stand in their unknowable glory. The statue rests in her iconic pride. The water and wonder surrounds me saying, you’re here! look how wonderful! can you believe all this is real? can’t you see all these morning mercies?

But I can’t. I miss it all. Because one day, one day, one day.

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