20.11.07

Back from NY

New York was cold. But it was a cold that constantly threatened to warm up at any second. The clouds moved fast and never lingered long enough to do anything but produce a substance my friend called "snain." If you new the right places, if you knew the right people, the city and the weather would cease to chill and it would open like a well heated subway car.

I don't necessarily like seeing touristy sites. I'd rather go to a place to live as the natives. There's a reason places are popular, and most times it's not because of a statue or building or garden or event center. Popular places have all those, but there's something else that makes Los Angeles or Paris or London or Tokyo or New York destinations as they are. People wouldn't flock to these places in millions because of a statue. I never want to be a tourist, tourists are people that need help moving from block to block. Tourists pay $9 for a $2 beer. Tourists sleep in biologically and culturally sterilized environments and move around in a bubble in which the only way to see is through a lens-finder.

I didn't want to be that, I wanted to just be. I wanted to hang out as though I was just meeting up and not coming in to visit. And I got that. The majority of my time was spent on trains and in pubs. And not pubs like we have here that are run by weathered punks and hot college girls paying for their premed courses. These pubs are run by and patronized by Irish. The neighborhood my friend lives in is an Irish heavy area and it was wonderful to me. You can keep all the glitz and pageantry and chaos of Times Square, I'd be happy living in Sunnyside Village, drinking Magners (no ice, heathens) and weathering the NY winters in a small apartment with wood floors. It's the same feeling I get going anywhere, I don't want to SEE the place, I want to BE IN the place, as though it were my own. And that's probably why it's hard to leave at the end.

But that's not why I went to New York.

I went to New York to visit a friend. I've never written about this friend because there was such a distance and such a time dilation that it made my eyes fill with cobwebs just thinking about it, even if my heart and stomach traded places. This was a friend who I'd shared a tumultuous few years with in Colorado when I was in college. The details, while good for a few chapters of a dime-store novel, are not important. What's important is that I've always had these feelings and these memories. This girl was always my missed opportunity, my if I had another chance. My trip to New York was to see if there was anything left in the tank worth setting a match to.

I'd sent this friend an email a few months back detailing my current life and what a train wreck it had been. I also decided it was a good time to share some additional facts about my emotional state as it pertained to her. I had already opened the floodgates with the separation info, what would it hurt to also let her know that she was still important to me and I'd always kept that small chance alive in case anything ever happened.

Well guess what, something did happen.

So I didn't go to see Ellis Island or Ground Zero or Rockefeller Center or 42nd Street. I didn't go to get away and relax. I didn't go because I needed to find myself. I went to find out what happens when your "if ever" chance came along. Sadly I still don't know. I apologize to all those who I told I was going so I could get away from Austin for a few days and just relax.

I think I even have to apologize to this friend.

This friend invited me to visit after reading my 20 gut pile up of an email, but we did little in the way of talking about anything once I was there. I can't blame her. After so long I dump on her with a galactic ton of emotional detritus and looking back I can't exactly fault her for not having a lens with which to focus on the revelation. Her life, and I will never do it justice with simple phrasing, has been a singularity of violence, abandonment, debauchery and disdain. The last day of my trip she gave me a letter she'd written in response to mine.

I'm glad she didn't give it to me on Friday, but I wish it had a better answer. The answer wasn't, "Go away" or "What are you kidding?" or "I'll call the cops!" and I'm not stupid enough to think that it was leaving any kind of door open. I'm left with an unsure feeling stronger than when I left. Before it was just pie in the sky imagination, with lack of a strong discussion and consensus it hasn't moved much passed that, but now I'm reminded of why I had such a soul upheaval the last time we were near each other.

I didn't want to be a black cloud because it was a weekend a lot of her friends had plans as well so I did my best to not be a hindrance. It was awkward and for nearly 72 hours I held back and held my tongue and when I just couldn't anymore, well...fuck, I don't know. All I have are clich├ęd words to describe it and I know none of them will work. And knowing I'm talking about a poet, I don't want to use words that seem like I'm trying too hard.

Ironically, I think the gist of the letter was, "I like you as a friend." There was more to it and reasons behind it and I think that's why I'm still swirling is because I'm thick and apparently impervious to poetry. She says she's a broken person and I wanted to scream that I already knew that and it didn't matter, but I never would belittle someone's looking glass. So I said thank you and went to drink more.

Reading that letter was the only time anything I wanted to talk about came up the entire weekend. No one to blame but myself, I went out there saying I had no expectations when inside I had a list of check boxes the length of highway. And it was completely selfish, but right now I can't think of anything else. I can't think of my job, my kids, my art (laughable) my friends. This is about me and my happiness and it's been too damn long since I did that. It's probably really out of character, but there it is. I can't unthink these things, it's who I am and what my brain does. I've always wanted to be close to this person and in a lot of ways very sad I couldn't.

And it's not because I moved to Texas, she was long out of my reach before that. But things have changed since then for both of us, and yet I don't know if they've chanced too much.

...

This is probably more than any one person would want to hear about any vacation, but you know what, it's better than making up a story about why I can't focus at work or why I don't feel like drawing.

Plus, my camera busted and I have no pictures of the trip. Probably best I didn't.

Carry on.

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