Summers in New York are a special kind of magic. It’s idyllic to Nursey, to be able to spend the day with a book in Central Park, to spend five hours writing in a cafe down the block from his family brownstone, to go out with friends to a Thai restaurant that’s open until 2 AM and talk about politics, philosophy, and petty gossip in the same breath. He tells Dex as much on one of their nightly phone calls. Nursey was flopped down on his bed, having toed off his shoes and wriggled out of his too-tight skinny jeans and grinning while Dex talked about lobster trawling and how he had pocket money for the first time in forever.
“It’s crazy,” Dex laughed. “I never realized that there weren’t any places to shop around here until I actually had cash to spend!”
Nursey could picture him, sunk into a worn out leather armchair and wearing a flannel that smelled like sea air, cradling the phone to his ear. He idly thought about how strange it must be to live in the middle of nowhere, without the hustle and bustle of the big city to rock you to bed at night. What was it like to live without a crowd surrounding you? Was it lonely, to be so on your own, so isolated? Or was it freeing to have some space to yourself, where you could breathe?
“Can you see the stars in your town?” Nursey asks, seemingly out of nowhere, but Dex knows by now that Nursey’s questions always have their reasons, it’s just that Nursey doesn’t always give them at first. He’s a poet like that.
“Yeah,” Dex says, his laugh coming through the phone. Nursey can hear the soft exhale that means Dex is trying to be quiet, doesn’t want someone to hear. “I guess you don’t have stars in the big city?”
“None that aren’t on a billboard.” Nursey replies. Dex snorts. Nursey likes that, making him laugh loudly, without reservation. It worries him, something prodding gently in the back of his mind as to why exactly Dex is so quiet on the phone sometimes, why he doesn’t want anyone on his end to hear him laughing. Nursey rolls over. He looks out his window, at the sidewalk, then up at the sky. No stars to be seen.
“Y’know,” Nursey says carefully, “There are plenty of places down here to spend your money.”
He hears Dex’s breath catch on the other end, but he keeps going.
“I mean, the flannel here is a little more expensive than it is in Maine, but I think it’ll suit you fine.”
Nursey tries to sound light, but his heart is caught in his throat for some indeterminable reason, and it only falls back into his chest where it belongs when he hears Dex say yes, he’ll come down.
They talk for a little while longer, making plans. Dex’ll come down in a week, spend a week in New York with Nursey while his uncle’s lobster trawler gets repaired, and then drive back up to Maine. Nursey offers to fly him down, but Dex blanches at the offer, and Nursey quickly lets it drop. If Dex wants to take the scenic route, that’s fine by Nursey. When the pair hang up, it’s light outside. It isn’t the first time that they’ve lost track of time and talked through the night, but it’s the first time that Nursey hasn’t felt tired afterwards.
Later that day, Nursey falls asleep in a hammock at Central Park, a poem about gold crescendo and silver muting sailing through his mind, the book of poems heavy on his chest. There’s a grin on his face. Oh yes, he thinks. Summers in New York have a special kind of magic.