For a month I carried my life around in a suitcase, the parts I could part with in a pinch, Christmas gifts new fashion baggage, with the loose leafs tight to my chest. Carry-on carrion, carrying on, through Vancouver International blipped in Chicago onto La Guardia, Minneapolis! Saint Paul! Fargo to Denver to Portland to Van to finally, on the ferry to Vic. Some breathing in between, friends and family. Laughter with a trigger and honest pure delight.
I take aim for hours, a hunter of perfection, soldier of precision, then strafe.
I did it—I did all of it. I rented out my Vancouver digs and secured through the internets fabulous new ones in Victoria, with hardwood floors, skylights, exposed brick and a gas fireplace, all welcome sights after a year-plus of basement suites, musty carpets and low ceilings. I finished the semester with minimum out-of-my-effing-mind and made decent marks, packed up the pieces and was off to New York.
The city was eclipsed in haze as I flew in overhead, a twilight smog fog furgettaboutit. I took the bus through Queens to the edge of the Bronx to catch the train to arrive at Anna’s only to find I had the wrong address—street instead of avenue, standing with my one-way printout map on the edge of Manhattan’s Alphabet City.
How d’ya like that. Lost in New York City, rained on, luminous, with luggage still plane-tagged, a portrait of come mug me. It was unfortunate but droll, predictable and necessary, payphone please-pick-ups and the sound of Anna’s voice ska-wheeeelllll! where the hell am I righthere, right, here brief directions and I gotta go, this dude keeps lookin at me. Eight blocks later, or maybe fourteen, she’s bowling me over in true frantic fashion, big eyes and arms and grins and remembering the fun we used to have. The fun we would.
It works out, it all works out, because it will. Failure is an option but it’s not an end. And as I learn time and again over the next two weeks, I must be some kinda sideways freak, brave beyond belief or just an idiot, reckless, death- and dangerwished, to take the trains alone in the dark of falling night my first time in the Big City. It doesn’t want me dead but sure as hell ain’t looking out for me. The next morning I march up to the New York Public Library and own it for two weeks, a practicum for library school.
These photochops were on display at the library as part of a larger exhibit during my stay. They caused a bit of controversy.
I provided reference at the desk with remarkable ease, my prerogative imperative I will succeed too methodical logistical busy bug-eyed to be afraid or pause to wonder if I should be.
You get the courage to do the thing after you do the thing, or so I learned from a movie on the couch with Allen, a piece packed away, was it pizza or sushi? that night in our jammies, putting off studying.
Walking broken feet all over Manhattan, I am conscious of my camera, only playing tourist with the lens toward the sky in crowds of other tourists to mask my intention no one will see me! because nobody’s watching, and I like what I’m perceiving, often leaving my camera out of the picture to see with my eyes. The unbroken blocks and the garbage piles, the Beaux-Arts and graffiti scenery.
Santa pub crawl along St. Mark’s.
The aftermath, several hours later.
Miles of dents and dramatic angles, museums and scary ladies draped in fur and hundreds of dollars of eyeliner, with the quick, clipped men and their clouding cigarettes wisping all around me.
Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is next to one of the things I wanted but didn’t get to do—go to Central Park. The weather was often crummy, and more significantly, it was always dark by the time I was off from NYPL. Oh well—something to save for next time.
Check out these little dudes in their raver pants! Titled “Rustic Dansers” they’ve been reigning supreme since the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD).
A Jackson Pollack in the Museum of Modern Art. I’ve never been a Pollack hater ’cause I have better things to do, but I have been indifferent if not generally unimpressed. Seeing his work in person, however, was something else. The pictured piece swallowed my entire field of vision and I could not stop staring for several minutes of cerebral overload.
Holy crap, Starry Night! I also saw a number of works from Kandinsky, Rauschenberg, Monet, Warhol, Dali and others.
This camera was too cool. Designed in 1936, it’s about the size of a flash drive.
I carry cash in two currencies and limp. I need a whole paragraph when asked where I’m from.
The famed ice rink. $17.50 for rink access, $9 to rent skates.
It didn’t even look like the movies. I’m not going to pay $24.50 to relive out remembered different memories of something I’ve never done.
The lady in the water. This is as close as I got.
There was a surprising flurry of activity around the site, this, at night, on a weekday. The curious hunt along the green mesh in the fence, looking for a tear to poke their eyes through.
I was one of them.
Anna and Erik live in the East Village.
All of their windows face brick walls or the airshaft convergences of other tenements, scarred blinds and dirty little windows “like peering into a Joseph Cornell,” life-sized with graphic novel noir, pigeon crud and haunting coos. Anna and Erik shepherd mounds of art supplies and careful towers of books and clothes and collide in the kitchen hallway and let me sleep on the floor, though I dodge away a few nights to stay at a hostel, short enough to narrowly avert disaster (strangulation in my sleep by the recently released psych ward patient tweaking on her meds? or from the disease? side effects and symptoms the same: restlessness, delusion, paranoia, psychosis, pacing beside my bunk all hours of the night), but also too short to make the promises we can’t keep among new stranger friends telling tales.
When I lived in Mexico, when I was in Thailand, when I was Deep Southed young and foolish wild and weird with the tattoos to prove it, the habits to soothe it I’m reminded, I’m connected to now. To this. Way of walking jangly and wise through the city.
So strange to meet people who could so easily be my friends who I will never see again.
It is supremely uninspiring to be an American in an American hostel, and entirely hilarious—heartening—to be thusly assumed by international travelers to know the ins and outs of New York. No, I don’t know where to club or to buy a digital camera. I don’t know if the bus tour is a good deal. A young Argentinean and his friend, clearly overwhelmed but savvy-cool, damn it, we’re here, we made it! now happen! “We know what to do? I mean, we know what to do. But we don’t know what to do.” With accented English, he speaks perfect American, oh my friend, I hear you, as we say here, “Word.”
Ah, and how to begin to capture the awesomeness of hanging out with Anna. Here we are, off on the town to a holiday-themed industrial party. Wheeeeee! Getting home several hours later, Anna noticed that her dress was on backwards. Photographic evidence below clearly shows it worn correctly at the beginning of the night. Despite this potentially implicating the skeezy, it is in fact amazing. Her dress became backwards… THROUGH THE POWER OF DANCE!
We danced, we grooved, we relived and lived anew our delectably odd friendship that only seems to happen in this life as a fluke, someone with whom there is no censorship or censure, the wackier the better, where wit is admired but dada wins.
Delicious fake meats and Chinese five spices. Tea time routinely at two in the morning and sleeping until the sun shot its parting glances. We developed on-the-fly and performed in full glory the most atrocious dance moves New York has never dreamed, which I dare not describe and could not repeat or execute the first time but in that moment, in that gnarly basement rip-off club with Anna the Mad, feral brilliant in her broken boot.
Availing herself of my nervousness yet full trust and willingness, she hacked off my hair into the purdiest lil’ megh-face-frame done seen, ushering in a new era of bangs and apparent absence of dreadlocking snarls. The last time I let someone else cut my hair was in 2000; I have not had bangs for fifteen years. The first few moments of seeing myself severed, I felt the stubs in horror like any amputee. Five minutes later I fell in love.
After New York I wandered through Minneapolis and managed to see a surprising number of people—however short, it meant so much. Onward to the homeland.
I saw Dan and his living dead plants. We ate bread, cheese and chutney and wine from mugs and walked to the Red in the below damning weather with the sounds of trains memory-crashing through me. Fun, and fond.
But Fargo, mostly, was family. The Holledays heavy. My uncle had been missing since early December, best case scenario not the lie we wanted ruining, disguised in tinsel and telling. Speculation alive and welling. Logic is the prize in this family of mine, for better and worst, we must oblige. Better times ahead slept in one morning. God called in sick.
Rest in peace, Jeffrey, at last.
Beat fatigued the all of me, physically mentally emotionally, the 30th saw me nonetheless too soon on the long journey home to a bright Vancouver I didn’t spend a day in. Home’s a funny thing anyway. The next morning, New Year’s Eve, I ferried to Victoria most of my belongings already there, the rest being the baggage I carried with me everywhere. Gifts and glad tidings, heavy thoughts and words. Word.
New Year’s demands closures and predictions, “resolutions” to snags and quagmires solved, resolve to improve and prove that I am better than me. You’re better than you. In keeping with the theme of the past few years, however… there are things I cannot predict or know, much less control. Invariably the weightiest life directions and decisions. Perhaps that’s what makes them important—worth wondering about. Not my mercy to them, or helplessness, perceived or true. But what they ask of me, quietly, to ask of myself.
The deepsicks improvements suggested in the last post are not yet in the works but definitely on the docket. I have a number of projects and obligations to attend to, foremost acclimating myself to my new environment and job and establishing a productive rhythm. I slept a lot this weekend, a month-plus catch-up, and wrote a lot, too, so I’m off to a refreshing start.
I hope everyone had fun, safe and entertaining holidays. Happy New Year!