After the winter when the ground began to thaw, I felt a certain indescribable feeling, which came over me as the sun grew warmer. Finally, our side of the world moved closer towards the sun. It was springtime and there was a feeling that came over me, which was more like a sensation than anything else. The ground had thawed and the trees were turning green. The sky was blue with patches of white, pillowy clouds, and at last, the air was warm enough to shed the coats and jackets.
I was south of 14th Street after separating from my crew of friends. They were all together and staying at an apartment over on 23rd Street in Stuyvesant Town.
Rather than stay, I decided to go. I took a walk along the Westside and meandered through the sidewalks of Downtown Manhattan. I always wondered what it would be like to live somewhere, like say, perhaps in Gramercy, or further Downtown, like say, in a loft in Tribeca.
I thought of poets like Frank O’hara and his poem, “Having a Coke with you.” I thought about the way his words related to my life and I wondered if I would ever write something as meaningful.
Of course I thought of Jim Carroll too Then again, I always thought about Carroll when it came to poetry because he was the poet that inspired me to write.
I thought about my casualties of love and the near misses of love, which I swore off as lust.
I thought about my younger days and the trips downtown. I recalled the wild nights with the wild ones, and the times in places like Wiley’s that was off the 94th Street exit on the Grand Central Parkway.
I thought about the girls that worked the stage. They were dressed in little to nothing and smelled from cheap perfume, vodka, and body odor. They were eager to please for as little as one dollar bill. And when you left, you’d swear you would have to take a bath in Purell to sanitize yourself.
I thought about friends like Johnny the Rug and his incurable need to say the stupidest thing at the worst possible times.
I thought about the sheer genius of his simple, yet hopeless ignorance. But still, Johnny was a good man to have around. He was funny and sometimes funny was enough.
Making my way with no destination in mind, I walked towards a small playhouse not too far from Hogs and Heifers in the Meatpacking District.
Man, this place was sleazy.
After nightfall, the corners crawled with street girls. Only, these are no ordinary girls. They were extraordinary girls.
They were the kind that were either born in the wrong body. Otherwise, they were the kind of girls that were boys that used to play dress-up in their mother’s wardrobe.
I knew this all too well because I dated a girl over on Horatio Street.
Well, in fairness, it would be inaccurate to say we dated. Instead, it would be more accurate to say we spent time together. At the time, both of us were transitioning from the end of a relationship. She was there with her excuses and I was there with mine.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved this city. I have always felt a sense of belonging. I cannot say why or what it is. I can’t say whether the attraction has always been the same. All I know is there is a connection between me and my City. I love it here for so many reasons.
This city (I swear) she has seen me through so many different times. She has seen me through different struggles, but yet, she has never rejected me.
Somehow, she has always taken me in with open arms.
I used to take these walks to get lost, but at the same time, these walks were the best way to find myself (If that makes sense.)
I walked to contemplate the people from my past and I considered me lucky in comparison.
I thought about the friends and so-called friends, which I inevitably had to move away from.
I thought about the friends I had that swore they would make it rich by the time they were 25.
And some of them came close too. They were very close until the feds came in and took them away for inside trading.
This was amazing to see because in the world of braggarts, these guys always bragged most.
But when the feds came to take them away in cuffs; all of their high priced cars and high priced clothing were liquidated like a diamond ring, sold by a crackhead junkie for ten bucks at a pawn shop.
There are certain recollections I always thought about during walks like this. One of which was a girl that lived in a small cramped apartment down by Broome Street.
I remember the cobblestone streets. I remember the back and forth conversation, which for some reason is necessary before having a one night stand. For some reason, although I was never sure why; we had to talk first and sift through the lies and bullshit before making our way to the point.
I recall her asking me to stay after we exchanged ourselves in her apartment. I told her that I had to go but she asked me to stay anyway. She asked that leave in the morning.
“Let me just go and move my car,” I told her.
After I left, I always wondered how long it took her to realize that I was never coming back.
I always felt odd about dating. I have always been awkward, felt awkward, and believed I was awkward; therefore, since I saw me this way, safe to say, I assumed everyone else saw me this way too. And why wouldn’t they?
I remember a Jesus freak once told me, “You are what you thinketh,” which to me, this meant if I thought I was awkward, ugly, or everything short of amazing and beautiful, that means I was all of these things because this was how I saw myself.
These walks of mine around the downtown scene were incredible. My City has seen all of me. She has seen the good the bad, the sick and the crazy, the young and terrible, as well as older and more responsible.
She has seen me through phases of divorce. She has seen me through crazy nights of wild expression. She has seen me during the late night at after hours places, like the one on Mercer. I stood at a bar and had a conversation with a woman that held a leash that was attached to a collar and placed around an old (perhaps wealthy) man’s neck.
I remember the club days and a night at the Red Zone. I remember the fight at Rock Ridge over on Varick. I remember the long nights at Elixir near Broadway and the fun times at Live Psychih on 84th Street.
That was the first time I ever landed two girls at once. And this is not to say that it went all the way. It was enough though. It was enough to make me look cool during a time that I felt uncool. But yet, uncool or not, somehow, I was able to land two college students that wanted to see if I could tell which one kissed better than the other.
I remember one night in my City, which I retreated to in sad surrender. I was post divorce and living regretfully. However, I agreed to a date with a girl that was much younger than me. She was also very different from me.
We were originally supposed to go to an S.M. club, which did not happen. Instead, we ended up at a bar over on 35th Street.
For some reason, this girl took offense because another girl sat across the way and staring at me. She was looking like she knew me. Either way, my date thought this was disrespectful.
At first she was angry at the other girl but then she became angry with me.
After a few short spurts of arguing, the mood settled. But then the arguing came back and my date was considering a fistfight with the girl across the bar.
I diffused the situation, but my date persisted. She argued and then finally, I had enough.
“You’re wrong,” I said
“And in a minute, I am going to show you something that will show you just how wrong you are.”
“Oh, so you’re gonna show me something,” said my date in a slightly flirty, yet sarcastic way.
“So go ahead and show me,” she said.
“Go ahead, tough guy, show me!”
“Show me,” she repeated in a flirty way.
Then she leaned in as if she believed that I desired her more than before.
“Show me,” she said.
I told her, “I will.”
My girl asked me, “When?”
“In a minute,” I told her
“Show me now,” said the girl.
“When,” she asked.
“In a minute.”
She told me, “But I want to see what you have to show me now.”
“I’m gonna show you,” I said.
Tugging on my shirt like I was flirting with her, the girl said, “But I want to see what you have to show me now . . .” with her eyes flickering in the dim light.
“Okay,” I said
“I’ll show you.”
“But when I come back from the bathroom, you are gonna see how you were wrong.”
Smiling, the girl asked, ”So you’re gonna show me?”
“I will,” I said. “As soon as I come back from the bathroom.”
Truth is the girl across from us was looking at me because I worked in the area and she recognized me. Truth is I never would have noticed had my date never told me about it. Truth is I was too old to play the push/pull mind games and too old to go back and forth.
Also, truth is I never went to the bathroom. Instead, I slipped out the door and went home.
Truth is I always wondered how long she sat there and waited until she realized I was never coming back . . .