For a few nights, I crashed at his one-room box of an apartment, right within the sight of Asia’s most luxurious towers. Fit nothing but a mattress and his shoes, all lined up against the left side of the narrow hallway.
There’s an old man who lived in the building across from him, his window facing ours. And whether we stumbled in at 6am in the morning—him, high and me delirious from the smoke—or came to drop off cameras and laptops in the middle of the day, he was always still sitting there, never moving. I thought about that old man, a few times.
• • •
When we were in the apartment, he would always crank the air conditioning to the highest setting, and leave the window open. I told him that it was like throwing money out the window. He yawned, and turned over in bed. That’s decadence, when you’re young. Not a cent to your name but a thirst to live.
• • •
I wonder if he, too, has ever looked across at that old neighbor of his, that white tuft of hair sitting there in his decrepitude night after night. I wonder if he thinks about growing old, no longer being young and beautiful; no longer a prince in this concrete jungle. I wonder, as he watches the city skyline unfold before him in a series of late-night cab rides, if he ever thinks about how he’d rather die than be in the same place day after day, how he’d rather die than be mundane.
They’re raised by wolves, boys like him, they’re raised by the road; feral, beholden to no one. They revel in doing whatever the fuck they want. You can’t ever keep them, these sons of leisure. But what can you live without, to pursue leisure? What can you forgo, to chase freedom? Can you live without a bank account, a sofa, a home-cooked meal?
But more—can you live without a hand in your hair when you come home; your smoke-stained shirt shucked off; can you live without a comforting voice at night, when the city is hushed, quiet—when it’s no longer your kingdom?
• • •
Still from Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love