I take a bus to the subway every morning (although not anymore – move is in 3 days, weeeee). It’s about a 2-block walk from the end of the bus line to the subway. Those two blocks though? They are lined with the back-entrances to a bunch of restaurants – where trash is placed and then leaks, where the quaintly cobbled sidewalk retains the liquid and then splashes when you walk on the stones, getting all up in your flip flops and reminding you of fish markets and spoiled milk for the rest of the day. In short, the longest two blocks of my day.
On my first few trips to New York, ever, I was always visiting people and it was always scary – in high school my friend Matt was like “Don’t make eye contact with anyone on the subway,” so that was the New York I knew. I college, we would visit Kelly at Fordham and holy crap, for student housing in New York City, the apartments that Fordham freshmen get are insane and bigger than any apartment I’ve ever lived in. But my point is, I remember Becky wiped her face with some kind of astringent one night in Kelly’s place and we all marveled at the blackness of the cotton ball. New York! One filthy place where you can’t look anyone in the eye. (Becky still tends to bring up the astringent thing. It’s been 12 years.) Also, Kelly’s roommate had an insane amount of lingerie for an 18-year-old and we have a whole gallery of photos from when Becky tried it all on. It was mostly Blanche DuBois-chic, like satin robes trimmed in fur. That has nothing to do with anything, I’m just having a fond memory because we took about 3 rolls of film that night and then each ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s without regret and watched The Crow. Man, I miss the 90’s.
Those first few trips to New York were the reason I wanted to move here, the city was still mysterious and, yes, like the casts from every New York TV-show always say, the city is a character in itself. While we were standing in the 59th street subway station, we all started singing “Feelin’ Groovy” (you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in my group of high school friends who didn’t keep Simon and Garfunkel in the tape deck of their car). When we emerged out of Port Authority in Times Square, there was an old shoe store called Father & Son and again, we all started singing what I now think of as a real downer of a song, Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” (because if there was one tape even more popular than S&G, it was the self-mixed Cat Stevens “Best-of” tapes Becky would copy for us). Regardless of how sad “Father and Son” the song seems now (I mean seriously, it’s a good song but I feel like the 70’s singer-songwriter theme of parental regret need not have produced so many singles, amiright “Cat’s in the Cradle” lovers?), we were all on the same page and it was all really exciting. We made pilgrimages to the Dakota and Strawberry Field and if this post is veering into some kind of classic-rock blog of devotion, don’t worry, it’s unintentional and I’m trying to reel it in. We did wait in line for rush tickets to see Rent, so that should even the score.
I have to remember that all of that is why I moved to the city – everything was a reference, a scene from a movie or a line from a song. That’s what I wanted my world to be, it’s even why I tried babka (cinnamon and chocolate), because I wanted to try it after seeing Seinfeld. (However, still not a fan of black and white cookies. ) After this weekend I don’t have to deal with the rotten-smelling two blocks anymore, and all will be right with my mythical city once more. I’ll live in a land where Cosby’s roamed and Cher dated Nicolas Cage and got a makeover. As with every move, it will be magic. Until the next time I have to deal with subway delays, moldy groceries and bean-eating hoboes.*