A big announcement, in so many words
Read the whole thing if you have a moment. Scroll to the bottom if you don't.
My lease started on Tuesday. A friend met me at the store to help carry the furniture in from the truck: a bookcase, a desk, a stool. Everything I’d need to sit in a corner and figure out how to fill up the rest of the space.
We finished after dark. There was snow on the ground and I was sweating through my down coat from all the heavy lifting. I turned out the lights and used my new set of keys to lock up—square key for the front door, round key for the rolling gate.
My friend went to grab dinner from the Korean place on the corner. I returned to the truck. The hazard lights were still ticking on and off, illuminating the surrounding cars, the sidewalk, the single scraggly tree on its piss-soaked mound of dirt. The truck was parked illegally on the left side of a busy road, leaving just enough room for compact cars to squeeze by on the right. The drivers wore angry expressions that I could see through their snow-flecked windows. But their anger was two dimensional. It existed on a flat plane. It couldn’t rise up and reach me in my raised cabin. It pooled around my ankles, on the salt-stained mats. It left my head entirely clear.
Any other day I would’ve taken on their anger, brought it home and made it mine like a chair I’d found on the sidewalk. I have a habit of ingesting other people’s emotions like I’m starving, like I don’t have enough going on in my own head. But all day I’d been driving this truck down the highway, losing traction on the snow, feeling invincible. Like one of those dreams. Flying not like a superhero but like a ghost. A ghost without bitterness, without regret, without envy for the living. Simply observing, neutral, curious. Floating above the world, overhearing conversations—nothing scandalous, just small talk. Safe because no one ever thinks to look up.
When was the last time you looked up? My ex was a pilot, obsessed with planes to the point of social indecency. He couldn’t bear to sit through a good sonic rumble without rushing outside and looking up to identify the make and model and then rushing back in to get the maps, the charts, figuring out where the hell that Cessna was headed.
When I go to the bathroom at night, I always pull back the shower curtain to see if someone’s sitting in the bathtub. I don’t know what I’d do if they were but I figure it’s good to know either way. I look up and scan the ceiling for impostors. If you think about it, most bathrooms are small enough to enable someone to stretch out between the walls and hold themselves up like an awning. The strength it would require is almost unimaginable, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
So there I was, in Brooklyn, floating above it all in a big truck on a busy road. And not a single person thought to look up. They all just looked ahead and seethed. It was the height. The height infected me with the sort of self-importance I associate with men. I felt entitled to my half of the road. I’d earned it through some combination of innate superiority and hard work. I felt so cocky up there that I decided to turn off the hazards and idle in the darkness like a big boulder, like a menacing and immovable geographical feature, a fact of life to be begrudgingly accommodated.
My friend came back with the food. I’d paid for his meal in return for the moving help. When he’d texted me from the restaurant to ask for my order, I’d let my stinginess taint the celebratory atmosphere. I’d ordered an appetizer, the cheapest thing on the menu. We sat in the front seat, him with his fragrant overflowing rice bowl—intoxicating musk of stewed pork, fried onions, array of pickled vegetables—and me with my three little wedges of scallion pancake.
I was modest about my store, calling it an experiment, saying I knew it wouldn’t get much foot traffic, saying I was in it for the experience, not the money. But he was enthusiastic, riding the high of a free meal. He told me this was the best possible location I could’ve found, or at least top three. He was gushing about the store like it was his. I wanted to give him the keys and let him run the thing. I wasn’t sure I possessed the sort of attitude necessary to keep it afloat. My American optimism had been beaten out of me in London. I kept thinking to myself, “I could really use someone like him,” even though he was right there in the truck beside me, more literally in my life than anyone else. And yet I could already feel him finishing his meal and packing up the plastic containers and sliding off the pleather seat onto the slush-covered asphalt, saying goodbye, pulling his phone out of his pocket to look up directions as he walked away. I could already feel all of that happening even as he was still eating, telling me excitedly about all the wonderful things that would happen in my store, things I hadn’t had time to envision between all the signatures and licenses and deposits.
My store, mine. Finally. Keys in my pocket and lease in my name. So many possibilities for that white-walled room and yet all I wanted was to run in beneath the closing gate and let it shut behind me. I wanted to be sealed up inside. I wanted to lie on the floor until all the lights turned off because I hadn’t paid the electric bill. I wanted to keep lying there in the dark, starving and shivering, until the landlord came in and hauled me out by my boots, left me on the front steps, put the ad back up on Craigslist.
I didn’t want anyone to know about it. It was the biggest secret I’d ever kept from the internet, and every day a thousand pedestrians walked by and looked in and saw me there behind the glass. It was a powerful thing, being anonymous. It was a gift I’d never given myself. It was all mine and I didn’t have to share it. But after two weeks of anonymity, the old desires cropped up again. They proliferated like pantry moths. And now god damnit I want to share everything. I want you to know. I want you to enter this space and make it larger. I want you to walk away with a part of it. I want it to disperse, to slip through my fingers like sand and embed itself in the yarn of your socks. I want it to tumble out onto your hall carpet when you take off your shoes. And when I arrive here each morning, I want to find it intact and destroyed, clean and chaotic, mine and yours, exactly where I left it, behind the rusty folds of a metal gate.
This is all to say that I’m opening a shop/gallery in Brooklyn. It will specialize in pen and ink. It will have something for everyone: art supplies, books, original art, prints, and more. It will be the most exciting chapter of my career so far.
For the past month, I’ve agonized over when and how to announce this. I’ve drafted this letter over and over again. It kept coming out like some sort of corporate newsblast—“I’m beyond thrilled to announce…”—instead of, you know, the way I actually talk. In the end, I just decided to write out my thoughts and tack all the important info onto the end. So here we are.
I’m aiming to get this place open by the end of the month (stay tuned for the exact date). Then please come and visit and say hi and watch me draw! Come test out the pens and look at the art and flip through the obscure ink-themed books I spent way too long researching on the internet.
Or maybe you’re not in New York—completely understandable considering it’s a brutal place to live. But maybe you have friends in the city who might be interested in this sort of thing. Maybe you could encourage them to check out my new and very cool specialty shop?
I poured so much of myself and my savings into this 800 square foot storefront. I just want you to get a kick out of it even if you never buy a single thing. I want you to have a nice moment looking at nice things in a nice room. I want you to have material satisfaction, human connection, and creative release. I want you to like my shop. I think you will. If you like it even 5% as much as I do then we’ll both be happy.
I’ve got to get back to work now. My to-do list spans multiple sheets of paper. My sleep schedule is erratic. My neck hurts. It’s Thursday morning. It’s snowing in Brooklyn. I’m overtired and overstressed and overjoyed.
Thank you for witnessing this moment. I can’t wait to welcome you into it.