I’m not looking forward to going back to New York City, and after a long drive trying to avoid the tolls of 87 South (finally succumbing to them after a scenic but circular drive through the Hudson River Valley), I think I know why.
I shouldn’t take the city’s attitude so personally. But I do. It made me feel like a chump, just for being wide-eyed and eager.
It was, in that way, the perfect place to go after my first big heartbreak. Nothing makes you feel the weakness of your propensity to love like a condescending boyfriend who finally breaks up with you, or a city whose people are only too glad to see you go.
Their gladness is not even personal…it’s only the gladness of having one more person out of their way in line…so you can’t even enjoy the satisfaction of justified hatred.
I have to tell myself that I am a smiler, an excuser of unintentional rudeness, a soliciter of friends. New York toughened my hide a little but I won’t thank it for that.
The toughness I gained was reflexive, only, which isn’t really being tough but the opposite. It’s a protective layer that’s easy to put on, like Nair, and painful to get off, if you want to get to the nubile, desirable, best you underneath.
Or else walk around with a wax protective coating all over you.
I don’t know what kind of place [Will] lives in, in Brooklyn. Remembering with a shudder the shithole I lived in, I try to imagine the best case scenario–whitewashed brick walls, for instance, with a little of the brick showing through, reflecting the morning light and making the apartment seem sunny even if the weather is dour.
But even as I’m imagining it, and myself inside, sitting on a polished wooden floor trying to write, I feel the white brick walls closing in on me.
I think of venturing down the street for a “We are happy to serve you,” and feel already the slowly drying concrete gaze of everyone I pass. The kind people are all perverts; the wise people are all rich; the people I want to get to know are tired and busy and suspicious, like me.
But if [Will] is there, it can’t be all bad.