This is a poorly taken photo. But it is the only kind you take at a bar late at night.

September 24th, 2013, 11pm

It was 18.9°C with overcast. The breeze was light.

Now this is a bar.

This is the bar you go to when the hidden lounge-cum-speakeasy next door is too full with hipsters who are too full of themselves, sipping whiskey cocktails. Lonely and uncomfortable within, and beautiful without. That lounge belongs in New York, and you’ve always known it. That lounge feels like everyone you’ve ever met from there, boasting about the skyline.

But you’re in Boston now — your attention is being demanded. It’s dark and cool; the food is mediocre and shots of Jack appear mysteriously on the table. At least, mysteriously to you now. There is laughter and incredulity —did that guy next to you seriously order a steak? Here? And, are those bleu cheese fries?—and those two guys on the other side of you are about to start arm wrestling for shits and giggles.

It’s hard to describe nights like these, much less explain them. If this picture were any better you might’ve had your shiny Nikon with you. You might’ve said, “hey can you position your plate a little more to the right?” and tried to act nonchalant so that your subjects would appear candid and genuine.

Instead, you ask the steak guy to name 3 positive things that happened to him today. He’s trying really hard not to like you, but he’s only successful at it when he’s sober.

The moral of the story is, shit’s just not gonna be good enough on paper sometimes. You’re going to try to recount the story later and the writing will be distractingly convoluted. The picture will be harsh and blurry. But in your head, right now, in a place that houses your memories and experiences only, everything is gold. Everything is more high def than your fancy camera could ever comprehend. You can see perfectly the wide open windows and the cheap neon signs in the corner, feel the cool breeze on your heated skin, the ebb and flow of the glasses, swimming in and out before your drunken half lidded eyes.

If this is all you have to show for this night, it will be more than sufficient for your soul.

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Janet Yeh

Sooner or later, all our games turn into Calvinball

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