The Only Living Boy in New York

Zan Strumfeld
Zan Strumfeld

I spent the entire summer living in New Paltz. Throughout the week I interned at Chronogram magazine. After 5 p.m., I’d return to the solitude of my home. I had an adventurous and productive summer, and fully took advantage of the few but incredible people that shared the heat with me.

Before I knew it, everyone started moving back. A friend of mine and I were sitting outside Bistro, watching the freshman and returning hopefuls flood Main Street. I felt like I was suffocating. In hopes of recovering from this unwanted culture shock, we created our own disorder – Post-New Paltz Summer Depression (PNPSD).

It was perfect. The plan? We would put up signs around town and campus for any of those suffering. Create PSA commercials. “Do you miss the quiet nights of New Paltz’s summer?” “Do you hate when people ask you where you were this summer?” All those experiencing PNPSD could come together for group therapy sessions, support, the works. It was a big joke, but it was our way of realizing summer was ending.

Then, two days before school started, one of my best friends from home died in a tragic accident.

I just happened to be home in Albany when I heard. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything. I was actually on my way back to New Paltz that day, feeling like I had been gone forever. But I had to stay in Albany. I had to stare at the sunken faces that I grew up with. Friends who had become strangers who had become friends again. Surreal is the word that everyone uses – but it’s not the right one. It’s just the closest we can come to, I guess, in times like this.

Everything was surreal.

I returned to New Paltz the next day, getting ready for classes. PNPSD had taken a new turn. There seemed to be a new meaning to every question about the summer.

It’s been two weeks and I am still numb from everything. Still numb after the wake, seeing his hands clutch A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the book I had lent him. Still, after watching him lowered into the ground. We placed a pack of cigarettes on the coffin. Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” will never sound the same.

I think during Thanksgiving break it will hit me the hardest. When he doesn’t come over to jam out to Wilco or tell me about Robert Moses and how he ruined New York’s highways.

I’m swamped in schoolwork already, and taking all the distractions I can handle. What’s the point of this column? I’m not sure. Really, I think it’s funny that we invented a depression. Were we really that miserable? Well, PNPSD could have been pretty awesome – maybe we would’ve written a book about it and gotten famous, or something. Maybe

I haven’t sunken into any real depression, luckily. Chris would be really mad at me if I did. He’d also probably laugh at me for making up PNPSD.

Oh, but if you’re suffering from PNPSD, come find me.