Blind Spots

I got in from New York City last night around 9:30pm. Nothing of note happened during the bus ride (s), except maybe for the Albanian man SCREAMING into his phone for SEVEN hours. Or the sub-zero temperatures. And/or the noxious smell of piss and shit from the “full service” bathrooms. Come to think of it, there¬†was this one nice lady in front of me who was concerned the bus left me somewhere in Delaware. The bus driver needed a smoke and I needed to go number one. She was appalled that none of the other passengers “gave a fuck” that I was not back on the bus. After we exchanged sighs¬†of relief that I was not left or abducted, she and I bonded over our love of being former smokers–the kind who don’t get left on a cigarette break at a bus stop off of I-95.

I knew I’d have a bus breakdown the minute I prepared to leave Richmond for NYC. I could be wrong, but the general disgustingness of any Greyhound station anywhere does not help any situation. Ever. The sounds, the smells, the bedazzled book bags. The shouting, garbled mess over the intercom. CAN’T. So it was no surprise to me that after¬†I settled into my almost-fully-upholstered seat, into the hours-long day trip, I felt a dark cloud pass over me somewhere¬†around¬†Pennsylvania. I knew¬†in my guts that something was about to go down, but I couldn’t pinpoint what that something was.

That something was–and always will be–New York.

To be clear: I do not hate the city. I hate me in the city. I feel like it’s picture day in middle school, the first day I ever got my period in eighth grade, the day I puked during the Pledge of Allegiance in fourth grade and that time I split my pants in college walking home from the bars back to campus in the snow with my ass hanging out. All of that discomfort, all the time, aggressively. We just do not get along.

That being said, the city and I are now at a cease-fire. We are sort of like middle-aged divorcees who have been forced into reconciliation for the sake of the family. (In this metaphor, my boyfriend is my family and I am the one who must save face so that I–and NYC–can share joint custody of him.) We don’t owe each other anything except showing up to smile for the camera, after which we can both go our separate ways. If I’m being honest, I am also the one who does not warn the City that it has spinach in its teeth before we pose for the picture.

Needless to say, traveling to my anti-North Star, Northern city is stressful. But I found a way to make it suck less.

Before I made it to NYC, our bus driver took a routine stop in New Jersey. I made a bee-line for the nearest Starbuck’s, where in line behind me stood a blind man I recognized from the bus. The way I recognized him was by his phone that spoke ¬†to him, the same phone I cursed at for being so loud before I realized home boy was blind. SERENITY NOW. I blushed at my own rush to judgement, then got over it by purchasing a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Because I am a white female and that seems to be something we do a lot.

I wrapped up my purchase pretty quickly. While waiting for what would turn out to be the best cup of coffee I’ve had in months, I overheard the blind man plead with the lady behind the counter to “comp” his coffee. The cynical side of me immediately assumed this dude gets stuff given to him all the time, due to his blindness. The way he approached the barista sure made it seem like his coffee should be on the house–that this is the way it’s always done and she needs to catch up. The barista wasn’t buying it. So me, being the sneaky sneak that I am, mushed myself right up beside him to lean over the counter with my debit card. I tried mouthing to the barista that “I’ve got this, whatever he wants,” but before I could HE SCOLDED ME FOR CUTTING HIM IN LINE. “Miss, the line starts back there.”

No good deed, right?

The moral of the story is, do something nice for someone with no strings attached. Otherwise, you’re in for a rude awakening.


The Victimless Crimes of New York City

I am sitting at a community table, listening to Erykah Badu on Spotify, in a bustling Starbucks on West 41st street near Times Square. I welcome the noise of the espresso machine snarling at me over my own thoughts and even my music. I remember this feeling of aloneness being here. ¬†I’ve learned how to sit patiently in public places–to walk with a blank stare, pretending not to notice I am about to trip over my own shoelaces. I always forget to triple-tie them.

I promised myself I would never come back to this city.

In January of 2009, I moved to Manhattan to attend Fordham for graduate school. I intended to pursue a degree in elections and campaign management. I had no fucking idea what that entailed (and I still don’t). I did not understand the “grid” system that makes getting around this disorienting island “easy.” I had zero nickels to rub together. I maybe¬†had two friends, one or whom was booze. I tried cocaine here for the first time. In short, I died my first enormously painful spiritual death (out of many) here. I did not know my ass from my elbow, so I drank.

Why, you might ask, would I come back to revisit that kind of psychic pain? A new relationship, of course. My karmic godfather bribed me into returning to the city in exchange for the right man. I’d have returned here long ago if I knew the payoff would be so rewarding.

And now I’ve had to make my peace with the city. I have been successful, only because I centered my bat-shit brain and bombastic heart by attending meetings in the West Village, Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen. Yesterday, I met my new best friend (a gay man, because that’s the only way). He walked with me for a couple hours after our meeting and we talked about men, sobriety and love. He helped me feel the beauty and surprise of just wandering. He also helped me find my way back to the Bronx. You could say I’m obsessed.

I guess this trip was my way to make an amends to New York City. I never got closure leaving here so abruptly in 2009. I have the opportunity to forgive myself and the city for turning me into one of its “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere” victims. There is too much possibility to walk around here with that big of a past. I’d rather just carry my Kate Spade purse.

Things seem brighter here now that I am in recovery. I don’t feel like a victim anymore. I have Bowie and Los Angeles to thank for adjusting my attitude about bi-coastal city living. I’ve gotten my nails done, I’ve eaten good food and I’ve had delicious coffee. I think I might be happy.

Midnight meeting time!