DAY 1, june 15 – JFK, my plane held up on the runway or whatever they call it, on account of a thunderstorm, for 4+ hours; „new york doesn’t want me”, i think, knowing at the same time that my thoughts are silly, because i’ve seen the myriads of lights expanding way beyond my eye’s view, and there’s a place in NY for everything, even panic, then in the visitors’ queue (at 2:30 a.m.) i play with two black girls, one of which has a plush toy plane: we make the plane sit on the floor, and stomp our feet at it and beg it to fly, then finally we lift it up and make swooping circles in the air. the rest of the people in the line may be not so amused.
4 a.m, i’m just off my taxi on the corner of 3rd and sullivan, and matt pops up right next to my shoulder, in his ceska red T, and we start this new bit of our normal crazy english-romanian conversation that always goes on and on, and it’s so hot i shed my two vancouver blouses off and we’re strolling west village (but i don’t know it yet) because all the bars are closed, but there’s still people in the street, and not even the stores that are still open will sell alcohol, which makes me giggle because i’m still not aware how expensive alcohol will turn out to be, and we’re walking to 29 jones and matt says „you’ve made it here, it’s amazing”.
we wake up round noon (matt works from 6) and go for coffee (latte+bagel 🙂 ), which lasts 4 hours or so. we sit on a bench in front of the coffee-shop and i tell him „all about” vancouver and cluj; and all these people passing by the brick buildings, with dogs or no dogs, stopping for their own conversations, lining up for coffees. not like spoiled children (i’m trying to remind myself) whom life has placed at the center of the universe – but as young people living by different rules and still making it- with projects, pets, ambitions and their own small whims, like a latte in a place very close to the waterfront (summer rain) in a city where they must have wanted to live all their lives. the place of their choice.
early morning – i walked the area with a map matt drew for me, i sat in the window at ‘doma’ for 2 hours writing about how i’ll never be miranda july, then i’m at his workplace during the emptiest night of the week, drinking wine and eating gelato, and just waiting (already??) for brooklyn. there’s something about the tiredness of a sunday night dragging on in spite of reason, that spells incomprehension…right next to me two women keep ordering other and other glasses of wine, and going through a very long list of their affairs.
DAY 2, june 16 it’s Bloomsday, i tell matt, and we relocate to brooklyn, after we talk about china over brunch; we take the subway, go under the BQE, and there’s red hook and his place, with mary, and with bonz who promptly licks my face all over. i go out for a walk, with a small google map, and there’s coffey park, and van brunt street with ‘baked’, and finally the waterfront from where the statue of liberty is outlined so clear, even on this muggy day. the feeling is a bit rural, a bit desolate; i walk among the identical looking dozens of brown buildings of the red hook housing projects. clinton street in brooklyn is NOT the clinton street in cohen’s song, which makes me incredibly sad.
matt goes to a meeting and sends me out to chinatown: „if you don’t like how you feel about it, face it and change it, make yourself a better person”. he walks with me (on court and smith) to the bergen stop, and shows me the places he drinks at, along the way. i’m alone on the F for the first time, and a bit panicky, i’ve already adopted the W4th and washington as THE stop where i go to feel safe. but from there to chinatown i have to walk, and i walk, through a bit of rain, past one of the NYU buildings, past areas with no chinese lettering – and shortly after 8 i stop to chat with some old guys sitting on crates in front of a chinese store; they are greek and sicilian, and drink cheap beer, watch the passer-bys and feel very satisfied with themselves, especially tonight for getting me to sit and drink with them. i laugh so hard, knowing i have to stand up and walk away, then one hour on there’s this other guy michael, black, younger than me, who has joined the group for a while, offering to take me for a walk around the east village. so we go, it’s me and michael and an austrian guy (i’ve stopped trying to make sense of this) and we drink indian malt and energy drinks and this is the first time i hear about hookah bars and ‘alphabet city’. rivington, allen, avenue A,B,C, E 2nd…up to &7h…somewhere we enter a place called ‘sidewalk’ that has an open mike and we listen to a guy singing and one reciting, then another bar called ‘max fish’ that’s supposed to be famous, where the guys end up playing pool and i watch and start waiting to go ‘home’.
home is red hook, and michael takes me to my east broadway stop (thanks matt for not freaking out, i won’t stop to consider what bad stuff could have happened, just because), but now matt is supposed to be waiting for me at ‘jakewalk’, but when i walk there he’s not. it’s 1 a.m, and i worry that he’s worried, and i scold myself (on account of no cellphone and general thoughtlessness) and circle the livingroom, talking to bonz and trout. he returns at 2, we swap stories and eat out of mary’s paella, for a few minutes there’s loud music and bonz barking, mary and her friend skateboarding across the room, then everything’s dead quiet.
DAY 3, june 17 – central park (it IS big), and ground zero, „just because i have to”. there’s nothing at ground zero, but people trying to take pictures, not very sure about what should be photographed: there’s the fenced site, the fire department plaques, there’s a chapel close to there…i end up walking along the esplanade at Battery and pondering if i’m really intimidated by high-risers, and if not, why not. i phone matt from a payphone and we meet in his neighbourhood, to hang out with half of the ‘birthday boyz’, and drink a lot of beers on the ‘social side of the street’. but we still return home pretty early, i eat icecream, he explains about the china documentary some more, we stay up til past 3, and when we go to sleep (matt in mary’s room, since m. is away) we leave both our doors open; bonz comes in the dark and settles down on my feet. i feel mean and grateful.
DAY 4, june 18 – so i wake up at 6, and assume it’s hangover. it’s also the sun through matt’s drawn blinds, and voices at 2 millimeters from my ear, and bonz shifting on top of my legs, and the multitude of things my mind has to take in. i go for a walk in red hook, to the water (as always), and it’s all empty the nice sunny way, with just someone maybe buying cigarettes at the corner, and school buses going by, and not yet the icecream van. so next matt wakes up and we take bonz for a walk in coffey park, then we go to ikea brooklyn, that’s just opened, and is being made a big fuss about. next, i go to coney island, on the beach mostly eating icecream – it’s kind of cloudy, but when the sun comes up all that sand is simply golden (so much better than west coast beaches); about 5 people are swimming, and as i trail my feet through the water, it gets warmer and warmer. the smell is so good. i never look at the amusement park itself much, just because i find these places sad, generally.
next, i go grand central terminal – times square. the subway trip is long enough for me to catch up on sleep. the terminal is impossibly crowded, and i finally realize, 4th day in, this is what people mean when they talk about new york. the towers, the ant-like people; there’s fascination in it, but definitely not the nice fuzzy kind. i find the building of the ‘new york times’, and it cheers me up a bit, but then in times square it starts raining a lot, and the screens are flashing everywhere, i get slightly lost and cranky, then there’s a rainbow.
on the way back i stop by 2nd avenue a bit, a small flea market, some good grafitti, but it’s late and i know not to overstay now, matt’s working from home and we have pasta and coffee, i nod off with a movie, then he shows me his prague film and we sit outside in the yard for a while, with bonz and rollies. we just talk a lot, gossip and plans, and it’s beautiful. the transvestite matt wrote to me about goes by; the night is so good.
DAY 5, june 19 – i leave late (dunno why – maybe because i wake up later this time, we walk bonz again etc, ) anyway i want to do MOMA, but first i go to the met (i don’t go in, only at the entrance) and then i spend like 3+ hours at the MOMA after which i already have to go and meet matt at ‘good world’, because there’s a free party we can go to from there, even if everyone assumes it’s going to be lame.
the party IS the mother of all lame parties, but i’ve had at least one beer before, and then red bull+vodka, and matt had sensed right away that (maybe because of the museums?) i was already on edge. we sit on the sidewalk in front of this club and talk about marriage, responsibility, choice, people i look up to :), and i even forget how we go back to brooklyn then and end up at the „brooklyn social”, i’m not the only melo one, he tells me about the prague days during which he shot the film, the unexpected obstacles, the sheer chaos of it. it sounds so much of a better story than just sitting in a basement in front of the computer for weeks on end. as he gestures towards the outside, and walks out to stand by the wall for a rollie, i come out after him saying „i’ve lost it”, and i’m already crying. he asks why, and i blurt out „you can just speak so well about the things you do” – then i pretty much cry, amidst the talking, for the rest of the night.