This is an excerpt from the first draft of a book I am writing. I am publishing it here, side notes and all, only at Pat’s insistence that he could not stand to be bored.

As I left I could see, between the tops of the brownstone canyon that was 43rd Street, the full moon peering in, and it seemed to me it had appeared just so I could notice it. Now was the moment I had been waiting for since I moved to New York, though truly I had waited since I was sixteen, or even younger: the moment of walking away. After ten o’clock the streets were quiet (by Queens standards, anyway), though the wind made a dull din in my ears. On my back was a book bag, not a hiker’s pack or even a rucksack, and a thin sleeping bag with a broken zipper tied to the top (with the rope Brendan had eye-knotted for me – see p. xxx.) It was the twentieth of March (year 2002) and winter was only halfway out the door; you could feel that at any moment he might come back in to grab his hat, and then linger for another bout of small talk with his exhausted and increasingly impatient hosts. And nevertheless, my only protection was a few shirts and a blue work jacket of the kind people wear in garages, with someone else’s name on the breast. “Ben”, I think. When I saw that big full moon I smiled, as I always do when I am delighted and alone. It was a sign. (See “Chasing the setting sun,” p. xxx). At the end of the very long block, I turned left onto 34th Ave. I had made this walk every day, even on most weekends, and now I would make it for the last time. At the end of the long block I turned left, and walked three blocks north to the R stop on Steinway St. I looked into the bodega as I walked by, caught a last glimpse of the Indian clerk/owner. [I would miss the $1 pint-bottles of Rebel Beer] I waited at Steinway for a few night motorists to clear the broad [for the East Coast] road, and crossed to the sidewalk that was both at the top of the subway stairs and in front of the Goodwill, donations for which, as usual, littered the area near the door.

I’d found many valuable scores in front of that store, including the best cookbook I ever owned,and Ben’s work coat. For some reason, maybe just habit, I took a look [by the light of the street lamp] at the night’s offerings, though I could not imagine what I could find there that would be valuable enough to warrant the carrying. I had sworn to leave the city by midnight, but everything was going my way, I felt; I could take the time. Such things were there as generally populate a thrift store: undesirable knick-knacks, books no one would ever read, women’s clothing over a decade out of fashion and plain ugly at that, children’s shoes. a black coat lying in the middle held a sliver of promise. The coat was heavy in my hand, certainly wool, about waist length. It may have been a woman’s coat, but it fit me just fine. I knew this was a sign; this coat had a meaning – that joy is a path, and your first step on that path is followed by others. This the universe saw fit to tell me before I even left New York. I left Ben’s garage jacket right where I found the wool coat, and took off as fast as I could down the subway stairs, deciding exuberantly and suddenly that I really ought to hurry.

I snatched my wallet out of my right front pocket (where my wallet had lived for at least ten years) and extracted my monthly train pass, an unexpectedly wasteful purchase this particular month. The air was warm and dank; I had not appreciated how pleasurable the chill of the wind was on my face until I was standing on the subway platform and everything felt still. The R train came quickly. After three stops, when we were shuttling beneath the East River, I started sweating, and unfastened the three large buttons of my very warm and rather unwieldly new vestment. I got off at Time Square and walked the one block underground to Penn Station. Like a bird I was flying, like one of those pigeons that happens into the train stations; for the hundredth time I read that Norman B. Colp poem, and I flew right in its face:

So tired
If late
Get fired.
Why bother?
Why the pain?
Just go home
Do it again.

I flew right into that picture of a bed – smack! And I laughed even if my head was bleeding.