I met a man named Kyle last night after we went to the Upper West Side for what was to prove a rather poor “party.” It was six girls sitting around with the World Series on in the background. Some were attractive, sure, and they were all strong women, each with their own distinct personality and ideas (about sex…). We all left to the local bar and Matty and I lost to a couple of pool sharks. He didn’t have his ID and members of our party drifted away; it was just after midnight. I found myself drinking a Bud Light with Kyle at a Kenny’s Castaway kind of bar while the only remaining person we had come with was playing beer pong with a black man who had held her in his arms while his friend took a picture.
Kyle and I had started talking about classic literature, then Absalom, Absalom!, then about how he had traveled for three years in Africa after graduation. Why Africa? Because it was most unlike New York, where he had been born and raised. It doesn’t have the creature comforts. When you go to the bathroom, it’s a hole in the ground. He had flown into Johannesburg, hitchhiked around (because that’s what everyone does there), spent a year in a village in Malawi learning the native language and then a year in Namibia, a country with sand dunes, desert and shoreline, and which is the second least densely populated country in the world. He worked as a tour guide for a while before working for a children’s hospital, living on the Atlantic ocean for $200 a month.
Now he’s back in New York sipping Maker’s Mark and wearing a car coat.