The weather has turned the city from welcoming to alien, the wind suddenly blew so cold, I set blankets against my windows and the north-facing wall. I spend Friday and Saturday fielding calls about the hows and whens of my move.
A radiator in the apartment busted a gasket (I think literally?) and clouds of steam stream out, crack the paint into streaks in the hallway as it evaporates. When I get home, the super is tinkering with the radiator, and later I hear him clattering in the bathroom, probably cleaning up.
New York changes you, a friend said. I was like, no, nothing changes me, I am a force unto myself.
Thursday night I went into Manhattan to meet a friend, and it was one of those perfect into Manhattan times, that I was so psyched to be there, to get off the subway and walk in the orchestra of the people, wander, see the lights, eat a sandwich, chat. Energy, energy, energy.
I have a hard time remembering: I came to New York City someone who had never lived with anyone she wasn’t related to, or sleeping with. Someone who had lived her entire adult life in the city where she was raised. Someone who had had exactly two jobs in her twelve-year career. Someone who had a wee anxiety disorder, and took about a year to open up and feel comfortable with people.
I had to speed shit up, here. I just had to: eight different roommates, three jobs, in four years.
I don’t find this a particularly speed-obsessed place. Things here actually happen slower. Bureaucracy is glacial. You spend half your day waiting for the train, or waiting or the train to get there. People sit in traffic. Wait in laundromats.
I had to open up to people here, though, as much as my tense little self could.
Results were mixed.
I am about to get up and get going on a Saturday, I hear the cat peeing on the floor. I told her I was going to beat the shit out of her, which she knows is not true.
A friend I love, loved, our relationship was long, weird, loving, generous, or was it? There were things about me that I thought only he understood. We were drinking buddies, and other things, I don’t know what we were. He disappeared, and he won’t even know that I have left New York. He disappeared completely.
“If you move to New York,” I told him many years ago, “I’ll see you all the time.” I did. “If you move to LA, I’ll never see you again.”
I finally got myself dressed and out of the apartment. Neighbors were hanging out under the scaffolding next door. “How are you?” one said. “How’s your mother?”
“She’s fine, thank you for asking,” I said. I hate when people say, “Thanks for asking,” like, I’m honored you consider me worthy of the most casual conversation, but this guy met my mom once a million years ago, so it was actually nice for him to ask.
“And hey, watch your step, there!” another neighbor said.
Dog shit. “Oh, I see, you guys are all out here protecting the community, huh? Public service?”
They liked this, they all laughed and laughed as I walked away. Standing around, smoking or drinking a beer on the sidewalk when it’s forty degrees, autumn weak sun, leaning on the railing of the scaffolding.
Goodbye Louis CK as a good guy, a feminist. I’ve watched “Louie,” and “Baskets,” repeatedly, and I still don’t quite “get” them, in the best way. I just feel “yes” about them. “Better Things” is also quite “yes.”
I always had a fondness for Kevin Spacey keeping his sexuality private. “American Beauty” remains a favorite movie of mine.
I started thinking of Out of Africa when I thought about leaving New York. I am broke, like Dinesen was, and I did have a short time here, relatively speaking. I do not have syphilis, though, and I’ll be back, of course, I’m not leaving the way she left.
Also, obviously, I’m a well-meaning white person who is sometimes insufferable but not, you know, all the time.
The way people used to leave places. The way my great-grandfather left Poland. Goodbye forever, and by forever, he meant forever.
People had more practice for death, in the past. I don’t know if this was good or bad.
But anyway I love New York like that, like it makes me who I am, the idea of it. Its mere existence is a comfort.
I stumbled into watching a bit of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in, or peace-in, whatever. I love how Yoko gets to talk. One of the reporters insists he was talking to John, but John ignores this. John treats her like she’s also an artist and a person. Of course he was a real piece of work, too. And she loved him.
I liked watching them make their posters with markers and put on their jammies and be like, Our biggest problem is war! I was like, shit, if only our biggest problem was a war in southeast Asia killing millions of innocent people.
Wait, okay, that was a pretty bad problem.
And I thought, it’s so easy to focus on what you’re against instead of what you’re for. For decency, for freedom to make mistakes, for truly restorative justice, for nurturing, for mistakes, for jammies, for vegetables, for pie, for letting “Parks and Rec” play a million episodes in a row, in the background, if that’s what makes you feel safe. It’s fine. For feeling safe because people can be good. Hair peace; bed peace.