I remember back to when I wore those great old clothes. The nightlife was something special to me. This was me, back in the day, trying to sport my outfits like I was something out of a movie.
I was searching for something and weaving through the enigmatic version I had of the city and the scene of downtown, cobblestone streets, and the Merc Bar, which is where I found myself a few times, late at night, wet streets after a summer’s rain, and there was me, looking to find something a bit more than just the average occasion.
I remember a night when I was walking down Broome Street because I decided to step away from the crowds.
I looked up at the buildings and wondered what it would be like if I lived up in one of the lofts. What would I be then? Or maybe the thought was what I could have been.
I remember back when my energy was young. I was in one of my outfits of choice, trying to pull off a certain look and hoping no one could see through my façade —ah, but still, there were some nights I remember with gratitude.
These were the victories of my youth. These were the nights when I was out until the sun came up. I wanted to dare. I wanted to dream. I wanted to walk my way down Bowery and see the different people and the different places.
I walked into a bar playing swing music, which was never my thing but man, this place was like something out of a 1950’s movie.
Everyone was dressed for the part. And the dancing was nothing like I had ever seen before. It was perfect. I loved it.
I was glad that I decided to get away and explore. I was happy to be alone and be myself and be free to see what the city offers, which was more than bridge and tunnel people trying to act as if they belong.
The call them bridge and tunnel because they are not natives—they also call them bridge and tunnel people which means they either go over a bridge or under a tunnel to get into Manhattan, New York City.
It wasn’t cool to be called bridge and tunnel . . .
I never called myself anything like that. I never called myself a city kid either. I only saw myself as someone that wanted to explore. I saw myself as a person that walked down 14th Street and wondered if I was anywhere near Frank O’Hara’s place. I thought about his poetry and one called, “Having a Coke with you.”
(Click on the link below. That’s him. That’s O’Hara)
I remember walking near the Hudson one night after another fallout at a place on near Horatio Street.
I walked away and from a girl I couldn’t stand and watched some of the long-legged women sell themselves to men on the streets, down by The Meatpacking District —only, these women were not women of the typical nature.
They were born differently. And some of the Johns knew. Some pretended not to know. And some just paid for what they needed, which was a quick fix for their sexual desires, and then they ran home to whomever it was they ran home to..
I remember this. I remember thinking about love or the temporary love we pretend to feel while trying to match the fitting pieces to our life’s puzzle.
I remember the girl I just argued with and how differently we viewed the world, which was troublesome to me because I wasted time on this.
She was her and I was me and I suppose together, we made good hostages for one another.
And I laugh now, thinking back. I laugh because none of this is sad but only true. I was a young man then and trying to play a part. I was trying to find out what I would be when I grew up —only, the thing is I never really wanted to grow up. Why would anybody want to do that?
I wanted the nightlife to never end. I wanted my version of the city to always be as wild as I dreamed it would be.
I ever tell you about the time I went to the museum by myself? I skipped work the same way I would skip class as a kid. I played hooky, so to speak. More to the point, I was overwhelmed by the experience.
I walked around and I looked at the art from our history. I looked at the evolution of man as well as the evolution of myself.
I spent a long time, sitting across from things I had never seen before. There were kids there too. They were on a school trip. It was amazing to see them.
I swear this whole scene was like a lullaby to me. I was so moved, so overwhelmed and stimulated, yet so peaceful and beautiful.
I remember looking at a piece of art, which was drawn long before a life I ever thought about.
I remember the eyes of this woman in the painting and the emotion she captured. She was perfect. She was beautiful, like the Holy Mother, soft and sad, holding her child in her arms —adoringly, lovingly, only as a mother could —and as I viewed her, I thought to myself about me and my personal version of God, The Mother, The Son, and then me as I was. I thought about me and my search for purity. I thought about me and my need to feel something a little more than just extraordinary.
I wondered what I would become or if I would ever create something so beautiful to leave behind as my mark on the world.
I thought about my versions of love, which, I admit to my misunderstandings and that I often confused love with lust—or maybe it was all lust, everything, such as my lust to feel and to touch, or lusting to be felt or to be seen, heard, validated, and wanted; as in desired or desirable.
I think my love, or at least my version of love was this; —her, longhaired and wild, beautiful as ever with eyes that read me, which I could read as well like an unending story. she would have a look that would make me always want her, always need her, always wonder, always dream, always hope for the day where she and I would be this way, somewhere far from everyone and in our own little world.
I always relate this memory to my first poem. This was my first vow of love and my first time I ever bled myself to purged the feelings I had deep within my heart.
if I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts
and if I look, I can see you in my dreams
and on the movie screens behind the walls of my eyelids.
But I only hope that someday soon,
I will meet you—
so I can hold you in my arms forever.
The city has changed since then. Wo-Hop is still around though. Wo-Hop is a 24hr Chinese food place down on Mott Street but something tells me the food is not like I remember it.
By the way, I remember the late night runs after I was out with the boys. I remember the Diner stops and the orders of fries with melted mozzarella cheese over it and brown gravy on the side.
Oh, and the cheeseburger Deluxe too. Sometimes I would dig in on the Belgium waffles, bacon, ham, syrup and butter, and then head home just as the sun came up.
I am older now. I look back and think about the nightlife I had then, which is different now. I smile, thinking of how tired I am when 9:00pm rolls around.
I swear I used to go out all the time. I would go out somewhere close to midnight and promise myself that I wouldn’t get home too late —but I always did come home late, and I’d try to get in at least an hour’s sleep before heading off to work.
I’d drag my ass around the next day, thinking about the night before or the girls I’d try to talk to.
I’d swear that I was going home to crash and go to sleep —no way was I going out again.
I’d promise myself this until I’d get home and the phone rang.
“Are you coming out with us tonight?”
“I guess so,” was my answer, and I’d still make it to work the next day.
Time sure does fly by.
I had a dream the other day about the time when I lived in the basement of a house at 60 Meadow Street. A lot happened to me when I lived there.
I learned. I grew. I chased my tail while trying to find the meaning of true love.
I remember wondering if I would ever write about these things. I wondered if I did, would anybody ever read it.
Would anybody even care?
I wondered what would ever become of my family.
Would I ever have a family of my own?
I wondered if I would ever make it to the other side of the country.
Would I ever find myself in L.A.?
Would I ever get to see the pacific?
Will I make something of myself?
Or more importantly, would I ever find what it is I’m looking for?
I did it though. I did all of the above.
I’d still like to know where Frank O’Hara lived. And Jim Carroll too. I’d like to thank them both for something they gave me without even knowing it. They gave me right to see dreams in my head, to taunt me when I feel misled —and to comfort me when I find myself alone someplace.
I cannot say any journey will always be easy. I know mine hasn’t been. Then again, mine’s not over yet either, —at least I hope not.
Know what I mean?