Doesn’t it seem like my anxiety attacks always happen on a Thursday?
I’m nervous, kids. Because I’m driving to New York in a couple of days. Not even to New York City, quite…through the state, round about wise, to New Jersey. I’ll go from there to the city, at the beginning of next week.
I was looking forward to it. To being in the city. My bank account is well padded, at the moment. I have friends there that I want to see. I want to see the High Line, long overdue. I want to look for a Gay Talese book at the Strand. I want to see the newly repainted bathroom at the Hungarian Pastry Shop. I want to walk the length of Central Park, like I did that one time with Caitrin and Matt. (Who are champs, by the way.) Maybe eat at an expensive casual place on the Upper West Side. Maybe float down Grand Street in daylight.
But of course now I’m getting all scared and what-have-you. Because I have to drive near New York. Not even in it, just near it, is enough to kill all my digestive enzymes.
It’s not merely the drive. I sat in traffic for two hours on 95 south, the other day, and I serenely pulled off the road. It’s sitting in traffic on the George Washington Bridge that I hate. It’s looking around at all the other cars and thinking, I don’t even want that much to be here. And laughing at the absurdity of it doesn’t…hasn’t, anyway…seemed much help. Because no matter how good the comedy scene is, New Yorkers do not have a sense of humor about their allegiant love of the city.
Nowhere makes me feel as alone as New York City does. It doesn’t have to be a bad alone–in fact, one of the things I think I might do is take a seat in Union Square Park and amuse myself with laughing at all the people hurrying, while I have nowhere in particular to be–but it’s alone, nonetheless. No matter how innocuous it might be, now, the feeling still reminds me of the howling horribleness it used to feel, when I lived there and was alone.
I love hearing people’s stories of the opposite, because at least then I know that teeming land mass is good for something besides stimulating the rest of the country’s aspirational economy.
But we can’t really trade stories while gridlocked on the GW Bridge. (I mean, not without some infrastructure put in place first.)
So why am I going to where I feel most alonest of all? Why am I going to sit in gridlock traffic on that tenuous bridge or chart a labyrinthine course through Interstate 87? Why do I do it?
I do it for you.
…I think I do it for you.
Lately, I’m not sure.
I love writing the things that end up on this site. But when I’m not in the middle of writing, I wonder if anyone’s reading.
It’s fine if you’re not. There’s lots of things to read out there, and it’s not like I’ve put so much work into getting your attention that I should feel bad about not having it.
I want to go to New York. To talk to Chris Arnade (I hope). To recover just a little more of the confidence the city took from me, by being there and doing nothing.
But is it worth the drive?