the social research building at 65 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan—the place that was the New School for me, for all intents and purposes, for my first two years in New York. The social research departments have long since moved to another nearby part of the city and the place is eerily empty.
Just a few short months ago this place would have been filled with life at this time of night—with naive, overenthusiastic graduate students, many of them friends, going in and out and back and forth to the New Valentino deli across the street. The Wolff Conference Room, now shuttered and dark, would have been packed with scholars listening to a reknowned speaker over wine and cheese, laughter and smart questions from the audience audible even over the sound of escalators and foot traffic in the hallway.
Now the escalators are covered and the building seems forgotten, historical—a place of the past. None of those old friends and acquaintances are here. I haven’t seen most of them for months and am unlikely to ever see most of them again.
Tonight I can suddenly feel myself aging. I can feel time rushing past me on all sides. I can feel all things in the world changing, and myself with them once again. I can feel my life happening, with or without me, whether I like it or no, whether I am ready for it or no.
Time is a ruthless sort of fellow, neither cynical nor optimistic, and frustratingly unsentimental.
What happens next is impossible to know, and what has already happened always rolls quickly downward, into the valley of the never-will-be-again. That’s just how it is, I suppose.