My train is the 3, an excellent train, another way I got lucky here. I had to transfer to a D at Atlantic Avenue-Barclay Center, that is, where Jay-Z sleeps in a vat of money. I had to walk to the same spot I usually get the train to my Wednesday writing group. So I got on a train without noting which direction it was going, because I was so comfortable at that particular platform, where that lady sells churros or off-brand candy bars. (Aside: I don’t understand churros at all. I like a sopapilla, sure, but a churro I don’t understand. Too crunchy.)
I was excited to see a friend in the city. When a friend comes to visit New York, to me, they are an A list celebrity. Not only did I have pleasant evening plans, but I was also wearing my galoshes, which although they seemed like a necessity in February, have not been necessary until just now. In a city of summer-blockbuster-sized puddles, my feet were so goddamn dry you wouldn’t, you couldn’t, believe it.
I gently read my New Yorker and waited for the view from the bridge, when the train went across it. No bridge. Two stops and I paid attention. What? I got off the train where it is above ground, a ways south into Brooklyn, an open platform, the dark, the rain, it was grim indeed. Up the stairs. Through the little station, Down the stairs. Wait. Three other people on the platform, all the way at the other end.
I finally came up out of the subway in Manhattan right under Donald Trump’s silver globe at Columbus Circle. I remember when that wasn’t there. I walked/ran a few blocks in hurricane-force winds and rain, which was fairly romantic since it was only a few blocks and the night was dark so the city lights were prettier.
After a couple of hours chatting in a narrow, dark Manhattan restaurant, I walked my friend to her hotel. I felt the oddness again, this time both in being the person who was not going back to a hotel, but home, and since we were by Lincoln Center, the oddness of going south and not north. I used to stay just north of Lincoln Center, and many times walked from the theater there, or from Broadway, back to the hotel, thinking about the show. Walked past a bar where I have had a drink, an Indian restaurant where I have eaten alone, somewhat unhappily, and paid too much, but the food was good and the ceiling is painted with clouds.
I am, as expected, a passable New Yorker. Except. Not To Coney Island. To Manhattan. God. Damnit.
I was looking at the few photos I accidentally brought with me in my half-move. How odd all the New York ones look now. How strange the ones from my trip after my heart had been broken, when I went to the theater by myself for the first time, talked to a man in a basement bar decorated with photos of dogs, millions of dogs.
I will never visit New York again.
I was concerned about that all along.
Saturday night I was supposed to be the helper at church. We used to call this job “acolyte” at the Lutheran church where I grew up, but in the Episcopal church, grownups generally do this job, which involves both lighting candles and handling the communion stuff. In the Lutheran church, the communion stuff doesn’t get handled, it’s ready to go.
I have a different style robe than the kind I wore as a kid– just a white one instead of black bottom and a white overpiece. It also comes with a belt that I will probably have the priest tie for me forever because I am a dummy with knots.
I am supposed to hand the priest the communion stuff, then do this ceremonial hand washing thing, then give her the wine and water so she can mix it up. It’s pretty disheartening to me that they cut our wine with water at church, but what can you do?
This week, though, no one showed up except me and the priest. So we chatted a while, and then she offered to go ahead with church.
We talked a little about the guy who gets his blindness healed, and then the authorities grill him and his parents about what the deal was. Everything in my life has been based on the film “Out of Africa,” including the meaning, to me, of that story, which is: “When the gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers,” (Danish accent preferred).
At least three times I have forgotten my Seven Sun Salutations. In spite of that, I am again closer to doing the splits than ever before. Well, as close as last year during Holy Week. Three more unholy weeks, then I can stop being so flexible. Seven, day by day by day.