Most days, my life in New York feels like a hunt. I’m always searching for a conclusion, to a set of five or six questions. I’m always reminding myself: I’ve only made two conclusions in my life. Only two things I know for sure.
Because the overhanging purpose of my life is to end this lifelong search for this abstract thing, this makes all my, real, concrete searches and hunts draining and tiring. (You want me to find you a restaurant for Sunday night? Really? You need help with something? Ugh.) Last Sunday I had a date with the number 2 top birder in North America, and we decided to do the natural thing – a birding first date. A real, concrete, search.
Unlike most searches the idea of actually going birding thrilled me. I imagined myself in black and white, crouched under a rock in Central Park with a pair of binoculars up to my eyes. I imagined whispering in the dark and getting close to a colorful bird sitting on a fallen tree then holding my breath in awe of its natural beauty.
But then the real risk set in. We could go and see nothing at all. The whole trip could fall to pieces. The thought alone made my stomach knot up.
Sunday at dusk I walked west on the Upper East Side to meet my birder on a block equal distance from our two apartments. I’d had a horrible day – a friend cancelled brunch the second I walked into the restaurant, another friend cancelled drinks and dinner. I’d tried a little writing that morning but kept running into figurative brick walls. Trying to salvage the weekend of cancellations, I accepted the birding invitation last minute. I’ve always had a masochistic attitude about online dating – the more horrible the date sounds the better. But, birding actually sounded exotic. So we were on our way.
It was idyllic weather in Central Park. We crossed through a lot of the photogenic landmarks to place ourselves in the outskirts of The Ramble. We saw nothing of note, a typical catbird, a cardinal and a bat.
We discussed our lives in the interim. He seemed to have achieved minor stability—same job, same city, same apartment for more than ten years. Myself, oh to talk of myself sounded like a sob story. I envied him and everyone else I knew who’d ended their torment, their searches, who landed on some treasure to keep them happy. How do I get there? And more importantly, how did they get there?
How did you get there?