To tell you why this trip to New York is important to me is a really long story. Like a novel. Or a memoir. I can’t tell that whole story because I want to blog about what the trip is now and what happens (if anything). So here’s the summary: in July 2001 I sold everything, moved to NYC and tried to live the life of a struggling writer. I got a great job at Carnegie Hall, went through September 11th and then New York and I changed. I tried to stay. Fell in a love with a man who called me darlin’ and then broke my heart. And I realized I wasn’t cut out for the Big Apple. I came home nine months later. That’s the back story.
Here’s the Flash Forward:
I was so nervous about this trip that I had to take a Valium last night. It made me feel woozy and giggly and allowed me to actually sleep a bit. On the plane ride we (my niece Caity and I) were jammed in to this tiny plane that trembled at every gust of wind. I had to hold Caity’s hand while she tried not to roll her eyes. We got off the plane (once it landed of course) and then found a cab. I felt different driving into the city. The last time I’d done it, I had all my belonging with me. This time, I was a tourist. It was a lovely day, slightly overcast, cool, so the New York City Summer Smell wasn’t so bad.
We found our hotel on West 87th street (The Belnord) and then went exploring. I quickly realized that this wasn’t the city I left ten years ago. Maybe because September 11 is no longer part of every waking moment. Or maybe it’s because I’m a little older. When I lived here, I was so immersed in my own experience, I never looked around. This time was different. It is different. (Tense change people. To my students: I apologize.) New York isn’t a place really…I mean it is…but what makes it interesting is the people. It’s People! It’s like Soylent Green only you don’t eat it.
We did eat Greek food. Grapes hung from the ceiling. Plastic grapes, thankfully.
Then we were off to kill two hours before checking into the hotel. We found this strange bookstore with books covering the walls from floor to ceiling. It smelled musty. And I listened to the clerk talk to his accountant. They were hipsters, in their late twenties.
“Dude, weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in here was a homeless guy came in with a plastic bag, he dropped his drawers right in the store man and took a crap. A crap! In the bag! Then he pulled up his drawers, grabbed the bag and left.” The clerk shook his head.
The accountant ( a redhead with a bad sunburn) said: “Well, how did he do that? I mean, wouldn’t that be hard to get all that shit into a bag and not make a mess?”
Clerk: “I don’t know man. I guess he had a lot of practice.”
Mmmm. My first New York Story.
We checked into our hotel. It was cute. And made for very tiny people. I’m 5’4 and nearly a giant, but it’s okay. I fit.
Then we went to Union Square. It was a mass of Hipsters. Skinny jeans, crocheted hats, thick glasses. Irony was in the air like a thick fog. Everyone was hanging out looking mildly bored. I wanted to take a brush and comb hair out of Hipsters’ eyes. I refrained.
While walking around Caity and I spied a beautiful man coming toward us. He had long curly hair, was wearing a skirt and a mesh lacy top. Like, totally a woman’s outfit, but he didn’t care. And he had amazing legs. Long, shapely and covered in dark hair. We both agreed that he was the hottest transsexual we’d ever seen, and utterly natural looking.
Caity met a friend of hers and I was left on my own to explore. I found a place to sit and have a drink and while sitting there that old boyfriend I told you about called me. “Hello, darlin’…” he began. I just laughed. It’s not ten years ago. I don’t have any feelings for him, and that’s sort of liberating. Plus, I have Biff waiting for me at home…and HE fixes sinks and stuff.
Then I took a subway to the hotel. I was all cocky like I Know The Subway I lived Here Ten Years Ago. Yeah. Not so much. I immediately got on the wrong train and ended up on the East side. I thought I stepped through a vortex. Then I realized I’d just used the wrong train. So, back to the subway and to Times Square to fix my error. Doors closed. It was hot and smelled of onions. That’s not a pleasant thing. Then we stopped. Mid-tunnel. The lights flickered. The driver came on the speaker “Look, folks, we’re stuck here for a while. Some guy in the train just ahead of us is sick. They’re trying to figure out what to do with him.”
A girl wearing a t-shirt dress (which I suspected might just be a t-shirt) said “Well, get the asshole off the train. We have dinner reservations.”
We waited. I thought, hmm. Someone’s sick? We’d been waiting for twenty minutes. I wondered if someone had a heart attack or explosive vomiting, then decided I didn’t want to think about it. Finally the driver came back on. “Okay. We need to evacuate. It’s not a big deal. Be calm. When I stop the train, you all need to move slowly to the front of the train, but be careful stepping between the trains ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE IN HEELS. There’s 600 volts of electricity down there, people. It’s not a joke. If you are in heels, be especially careful!”
I was in the last train. Do you know how long it takes to walk from the back of a NY subway train to the front, balancing between cars? It takes forever. And it makes you dizzy.
It’s an hour later now and I’m in my hotel room. I just ate a Tasty D-Lite Strawberry Cheescake cone followed by an enormous piece of pizza. If Biff were here, he’d probably have eaten TWO slices of pieces because he likes to eat things in pairs.
My feet hurt, I’m tired, and I don’t need Valium tonight. I’m utterly relaxed. And the New York I was so afraid to return to isn’t scary at all. It’s just wrapped in skinny jeans and has a wicked sense of humor. I fit right in. I’m wearing a cape after all.