I look out the windows of what used to be a church and all I can see is brick for miles. Brick and stone and cement. Everything is old and everything is artificial; the world is brown from this angle, even in the sun. Buildings here are a testament to an almost-forgotten past, like everything in a city like this one, where money is too scarce to destroy and build anew— instead, things are recycled, repurposed, always reused. I meditate on that, on what it means to pile the present literally on top of the past like this, layers on layers of history. This window let school children and churchgoers and bingo players look out through its dingy glass. It’s probably been here longer than I have been alive, and it will probably outlive me.
Sitting at my desk, I daydream instead of typing, considering what histories this city hides. In Washington Square Park, a plaque explains that under the concrete lie the graves of fallen soldiers. I must have visited the park a dozen times before I noticed the sign, never wondering what I was really standing on, what held me up.
I picture the benches around the square and all the times I’ve sat on them, enamored with the trees and the dogs running in circles on the grass. Green space in a grey city is hard to come by, but if you dig deep enough, it seems like everything is grey, in the end. I’ve spent enough time thinking about the dull places, the shadowy corners where thoughts fester, where people hide themselves from being found. There’s always darkness. There are places I try to ignore…faces of lost friends, the cruelty of indifference… the tiny angers I never let go of, the things I said and didn’t mean. Stories in layers that bleed down through the cracks. Indistinct edges between fragments of the past. I’m somewhere in the mess of tangled histories, and these brown rooftops that stretch for miles will hide me from myself.