Friday, November 13, 2009

That East Coast Melancholy

It would be good to go down even for a day or two and wander about a little. I'm running out of autumns, at least when I won't be rather old and past any kind of commisserate-meaningfully-with-the-magic-of-New-York date. I know it grinds people to dust and all of that if they fail to achieve their desires, but just because you can't possess whatever it is that makes the whole area so special, you still sense that it is there. I knew it was there when I was there as a teenager for 4 days with $17 to my name, sleeping half the night in Central Park and Madison Square, spending the other half wandering all over the deserted streets. Obviously I was mostly unhappy at the time, and exhausted, and cold--it was in October--and I was cutting a pitiful figure, but in spite of all that I still found it exhilarating to be there numerous times in the course of a day, especially when I was able to pass as a semi-normal person--sitting in the main library, or taking the Staten Island ferry, which I think was a quarter at that time, or observing people my age taking a real part in life, with things to do, and romantic interests and so on, which was inspiring to me. Wretched as I was, I didn't want to leave, and I had consumed enough media to believe if I hung around long enough something might happen to me--indeed, to be honest, if I had had an appetite for gay sex, it is quite possible a number of things might have happened to me, but I didn't want New York quite bad enough to embrace it on those terms.

One item which serves to show you much things like parenting have changed in the last 20 years, when I finally gave up and called home to explain that I was in New York and didn't have any money (I had hitchhiked there, or actually to Newark and then taken a commuter train into town), hoping somebody might wire me some cash, or, I suppose, offer to drive up and get me, they didn't do either of those things, so I tried to hitchhike by one of the tunnels, I forget exactly which one, but the police told me I couldn't do that, that in fact I couldn't hitchhike anywhere in Manhattan, so I had to get off the island somehow, and I ended up walking all night the length of the island up to the George Washington Bridge--it was only about ten miles, but by that point I hadn't had a proper sleep in days and my feet were also all calloused and were very painful, so I was pretty much spent. This entailed going through Harlem of course, which at that time was supposed to be much more dangerous crimewise than it is now, but I didn't have any incidents on this occasion. Certainly I did not present an image of any person who was carrying a lot of money. So I walked across the George Washington Bridge around 7 or 8 in the morning and set out with my thumb on I-95--again, you allowed to do this kind of stuff anymore, not that I would want to, but at the time I was just desperate to go places and I had a terrible work ethic and sense of future orientation and I couldn't think of what else to do. Eventually I got back home that afternoon and I slept for about two days and it was the best sleep I've ever had in my life I'll tell you, but when I woke up everybody was really mad at me or thought I was on drugs, which was the popular explanation at the time for any kind of inexplicable behavior. Apparently not one person understood that I just wanted to go to freaking New York for a couple of days; (and apparently no one does still).

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