Quiet Day in New York
I woke up feeling a little bit better. Must have been some powerful antibiotics. Still, when I turned to one side, I really did resemble Jay Leno. I was okay with this. I just pulled my hair over my jaw, batted my eyelashes and tried to look mysterious instead of bloated. I popped some Tylenol with Codeine (just one. I’m a tender flower) and headed outside while my niece slept in. By Day 4, we’d fallen into a routine. She would stay up until 3am while I slept, and I’d wake up at 6:30am while she slept and explore the town.
I left the hotel looking for a flea market on 39th street. I didn’t even make it. Around the corner from my hotel on 6th Avenue, the entire avenue was shut down. Overnight a fair had sprouted…and they were selling stuff CHEAP! What was it with things sprouting overnight? In the country, mushrooms sprout. In New York movie productions and street fairs sprout.
I decided to check it out. I walked for blocks and blocks just looking—not just at stuff (though there was plenty) but at the people.
What is so amazing about New York to me is the diversity of its people. In Michigan, pretty much everywhere you go you see people who look just like you or at least like your extended family. And it wasn’t just the cultural heritage of people that fascinated me, just the overwhelming diversity. So consider these glass necklaces I found: they’re all pretty much the same thing. But when you sift through them, you see all the different colors and shapes and…
Okay. I’m about to slip into Cheeseville.
Forgive me, but people are damned interesting. There were so many different skin colors and ages and shapes and eyes and I noticed that women (whether fat or skinny or curvy) all had little bellies sticking out. I found the bellies comforting. I found the differences comforting. I don’t know. I always worry that there’s something fundamentally different about me, that I stick out in some way. Then while checking out a random street on NY I see that everyone is fundamentally different. Epiphany: No one is perfect. Further epiphany: We’re all a little fucked up. No one even noticed my enormous half-chin. I rubbed my belly in happiness.
I took a rest and some more codeine. Strange. I’d taken Tylenol with codeine before and it was like floating on an uncomfortable ride through Disney World…or a tripped out Simpson’s episode. This time, it felt like it was having no effect, except I wasn’t in as much pain. That’s how I knew that I really was suffering. Ah well. I could bully through it.
My plan was to meet my cousins in Central Park for a couple of hours and then meet my very cool friend Dionne downtown to watch a play in the Fringe Festival and get Indian food. I made it to Central Park…but sadly had to bail on Dionne. At the end of the day I was throbbing all over, and not in the way that happens in romance novels.
I loved the park too. When I lived in the city, I’d take my lunch breaks there since it’s walking distance to Carnegie Hall. I love that everyone just hangs out, collectively but separate. There’s an ease to Central Park and, of course, people everywhere.
I talked with my cousins and their friends. Watched little Travis and Lizzie run up to people and dance and try to climb a gigantic tree. We ate popsicles and watched a group of break dancers do incredible flips and I worried whether they had health insurance.
At the end of the afternoon, I realized that there was no way I could make it downtown and handle another four or five hours of walking around. Frankly, I was sick and the pain in my tooth made me feel like crying. I said goodbye to my cousins, texted apologies to Dionne and made my way to the hotel.
FINAL NEW YORK THOUGHTS
I picked up a slice of pizza and nibbled tenderly on one side. My niece met friends for dinner and I had the hotel to myself to watch “Dark Knight”. I have to say in the hotel room, I had another little epiphany. Living in New York was a time where my life fractured. If 911 hadn’t happened, I could see myself still living there. I think I’d have a small apartment in Brooklyn, a collection of friends, a boyfriend. I don’t know if I’d have children…though I might’ve if things had worked out with Harrison. I could see this Other Tanya and her Other Life. It would be fast-paced and energized and rich and creative. The truth is, 911 did happen and it did change me and the life of the Other Tanya never was. I moved back to Grand Rapids.
But here’s the moral, folks, and I’m sorry if it’s cheesy or pat. It’s the truth. I can see the Other Tanya and her life but This Tanya, the Tanya of right now, is no longer envious. See, I may not have the energy or the excitement of New York, but I have a beautiful house where I can hear the crickets at night. I have two amazing and quirky children that I love with all my spirit. I have dear friends, true friends and a wonderful supportive family that I can call and see whenever I want. I’m a professor of writing at an art college for as long as they’ll have me, and I’m writing and publishing my books. My life now is fast paced and energized and rich and creative and, possibly more importantly, filled with love and purpose.
And I can always visit New York.
Sunday my niece and I flew back to Grand Rapids. It was a long and exhausting trip and my face hurt; when I pulled up to my house, Biff was standing there. He opened the door. He welcomed me home.