C is for City

“…quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.”  —  Joan Didion

My mother and my aunt talked nervously in the taxi.  I tuned out and thought about how the taxi was yellow and checkered, like in the movies.  My mother and aunt were to help me move into my summer home in NYU dorms, but this was more for them than it was for me, it seemed.  I would have gone by myself if I could, but that was not going to happen.  We rushed out of the tunnel, into the barely-there light streaming through the tall buildings.  I craned my neck to look up and I saw a small patch of blue in between the skyscrapers.  I didn’t feel confined; I felt free.

They left a day later and my summer began.  I walked from Union Square to Times Square every day.  Meandering through the green market, I saw vegetables I had never seen before.  It took a trip into the archetype of urban life for me to see kale, resplendent and standing at full attention.  Brussels sprouts like large, pale green marbles.  I loved navigating the filthy streets, watching shop owners pull up the gates.  One day I bought small, sweet strawberries and a bottle of balsamic vinegar.  I ate the entire pint, doused in the tart syrup, feeling decadent and rebellious.  My mother and grandmother would never do such a thing.

I starved most of the summer, but the market and the long sweaty walks are some of my favorite memories.  I was in a movie, walking, viewing; every now and again I had a 360-degree look as I stared at something new.  The soundtrack to my life blared in my headphones twice a day: Surfer RosaThe Moon and Antarctica, a mixed tape I made that represented everything I loved and hated all at once, and T’s greatest mixtape ever of ska on side A and funk on side B–a nod to a particularly schizophrenic night the previous spring.

One weekend he came down from outside the city, and we wandered through the East Village, eating pizza, sitting in Tompkins Square Park with the junkies, the combination of piss and flowers and car fumes all mixing around us.  We talked about how one day we would figure our shit out, how happiness did really exist somewhere out of our reach, how one day we would get past all of this, how one day we might learn how to sleep.

That summer was beautiful and shiny and sharp.   Leaving the dorm by myself, I hailed a taxi and headed back to LaGuardia.  The plane was delayed, and waiting in the airport, under fluorescent glare, I felt the earth falling away from me long before my plane took off.

The double post ain’t a happenin.  Maybe later.

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