“Well, there are only 200 people in Seattle,” he offered, a sentiment repeated by another friend at a different happy hour the next day.
I fear I’ve created a monster.
An awkward pause ensued after he recited my famous theory to me—omitting its lesser-known corollary about there only being 1,000 people in the world—as I stared into the space between him and his girlfriend, doing math that will remain known to only me. For a minute, I felt somewhere between deflated and defeated. Thinking about it today, as I walked home from board gaming while listening to the companion album of the one that I’d listened to on the way there, I felt unease for a different mathematical reason.
Fifteen years, next Sunday. Fifteen years in this same city, 25% longer than anywhere else. And it occurred to me, that if there are only 200 people in Seattle, and I’ve met more than 13.333 people per year, well, that’s it. That’s everyone. Achievement unlocked.
So, what next?
Yesterday, my years-long self-imposed exile from Facebook came to an end, for 27 minutes. I was unaware for 23 of them.
Before I’d left, back when Spotify made its American debut, I rushed to sign up; after I left Facebook, my Spotify account sat dormant until earlier this year, when I downloaded its Mac client on a whim. A quick password reset later, and I was in business, able to login using the email address the streaming service had pulled from Facebook so long ago.
Last night, I was thinking of the logistics of a party I’m hosting next week on my building’s roof, and decided to set the service up on my iPad, which I could connect to a Bluetooth speaker to stream music1. I set it up, and dawdled for a bit, and was stunned when I checked my email a little while later to see a message from Facebook, welcoming me back.
Furious, I logged back in, if only to deactivate once more2. As I attempted to do so, Facebook’s usual “Are you sure?” page popped up, showing me the faces of five of my “friends” who’d be sad to see me go.
I hadn’t heard from four of them since well before I left the site3. The fifth was my sister.
Today marks the start of a week-long stretch of memorable dates, several of which I’d like to forget but will remain seared in my brain forever. That one high school friend’s birthday, immortalized by her AOL screen name. The day I left New Jersey, forever ago. The day I was offered my internship in New York. The day my father’s murderer was released, and exactly a year later, a first date that turned into something more. The day I moved here. All between the 14th and the 21st of August.
Somehow, anniversaries tend to cluster—mid-December is another one of those stretches—and weeks like these inevitably lead to self-reflection. But whereas the December cluster overlaps with the solstice, when the days are shortest and the weather the most cruel, feels like a fair time to navel-gaze. This cluster, on the other hand, causes more consternation, as I fear I’m setting the final days of summer ablaze with my reflections on people and events long out of reach.
The world keeps turning. Bumbershoot looms on the horizon, and beyond that, my birthday. Then, the unknown.
There’s a tree I can see from my window that has already turned yellow, duped by the confusing weather of recent weeks. But I live in the city, the heart thereof, and my home for the last decade and a half is known as the Evergreen State for a reason. I look at that tree, and think of the impending Fall, and what it will and won’t mean.
Five years ago this coming October, I spent nearly a week in Wisconsin, tooling around Madison via leaf-covered paths. It’s the last time I heard that distinct crunch coming from underfoot, the last Fall moment I had that felt like my youth.
With every turn of the world, I’m a little further away.
- My last party, I set up a playlist on my phone, which caused problems when I’d duck back downstairs.
- As I’ve switched from Chrome to Firefox in the intervening years, it took three attempts to remember my password.
- In fact, three of them were part of the social circle that led me to take the two-week break that turned into four-plus years.