Monday, January 28, 2008
I wanna be a part of it
We leave Boston and I am sick but smoking as I am sick and we leave Boston. Four hours later we're pulling over the Brooklyn Bridge after the sun has set and I see sparkling Manhattan for the first time without the World Trade Center in its skyline. I say things like "Wow," and "Jesus," because don't most words fail you at times like these.
Watching it I'm thinking about many things, about memories from the last time I was here with my Mom in high school, remembering wanting to go to NYU and imagining how differently my life would have been had I done so, and oddly, remembering my college roommate Kristen, the ballerina, whom I haven't spoken to in four years. Last I heard she was living in New York, but I know nothing else. A few months prior I found a mixed tape she made me our Sophomore year and have been listening to it in my car. As we cross the bridge I think, if there's one person I'd like to see here, it's her, but shake the thought away because this is the biggest city in the world and besides, life doesn't work that way.
In a tiny immigrant apartment I meet Kendra and Helena and Kendra's dog, Menina. We waste no time in drinking the pilfered bottle of gin Derek and I have brought, and I learn that Kendra is a dancer. I mention Kristen, wondering if maybe she has run into her in the dance world, but she doesn't know her. Of course not, because life doesn't work that way.
When Greg gets home we all go out and drink. Things get a little hazy there for a while, but suddenly it's 1 in the morning and I'm in a Brooklyn bar with no sign outside and we're walking to the back to find seats and a familiar blond girl is there in front of me and I'm grabbing her arm and saying "Kristen," and then I get hold of myself and realize I must be drunk and crazy and grabbing some blond stranger, because life doesn't work this way, but then her face lights up and she's screaming my name and we are hugging and talking for hours it seems about our lives and the past four years. She looks great. She looks happy. I can't believe it.
The last thing she says to me is "I'll be on the dance floor," and they are perfect parting words and I look for her there on our way out but I'm too drunk by then and anyway, what more can I say, so we go back to Kendra and Greg's and sleep on an air mattress and I wake up feeling sicker and thinking It is not just Boston, all my life is like this, like a Dickens novel. I wonder if it is like this for everyone and if so, how can anyone be a Christian or a Muslim or an Atheist? If this is the way the world is, how can anyone think they know anything about anything?
Saturday we are all recovering from Friday, but we have good talks and eat sushi in the Village. Sunday we walk around Brooklyn and eat lots of pizza. Mandiey and I find Amazing and Cheap clothes at a thrift store while Derek and Greg start drinking.
We find them at the bar at about 2pm and are joined by Dan and Helena. We go to another bar where the bartender is awesome and we are the only ones drinking on this Sunday afternoon. We stay so long and everyone gets loud and we play songs on the jukebox and talk and talk and sing and dance and laugh and play pool and blow up the free NYC condoms like balloons and when we leave hours later the bartender has given us many free drinks and we parade into the still-light streets triumphant, Greg (who has died twice and therefore knows how to live) carrying Mandiey over his shoulder and all of us howling in praise of this perfect time.
In the next bar there are pickle martinis and a tiny little chihuahua in a carrier and it is old and wood and everyone smiles so much. We go back so Dan can sober up before we leave and have a dance party in the tiny living room before finally crossing again over the bridge and coming home.
Back here in Boston it suddenly seems so cold. We are so exhausted, but glad to have a bed again, and we sleep so deeply and when I wake up, I feel so much better. So much better.