Possibly the most beautiful woman in the world. The co-founder of the Weird Girl Writing Guild. Tara. (Not my sister, who is the other most beautiful woman in the world. Why so many gorgeous Taras? As it happens I’ve met a THIRD gorgeous Tara… and none of them seem to be husband stealers. Unlike the other Angelinas of the world.)
I took notes while I was in New York. I will share some of them with you.
New York Notes:
“I’m always surprised that New York accents are real.”
“I think it’s pretty horrid that anyone in this world is named Snookie”
“I’m completely fascinated by the strange relationship between New Jersey and New York. And why are Jersey people so weird?”
“The single most wonderful thing about New York is the cultural diversity. Truly phenomenal! People literally from everywhere in the world, speaking every language, wearing every style. But it isn’t just that. It’s also that there are people from every background, of all interests, every sexuality. I feel like it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that if it isn’t here, it isn’t anywhere. I’ll bet a lot of New Yorkers think that too.”
“Muggy, damp, hot, foetid, air rising from underground storage. Bodies, odor, hot gusts of air (full and rich). Ripe summer city. Blaring noise, jubilation, high heels, dripping faces (mine), stoic expressions, tans, pain, old friends in new places.”
“Is it worse to call a woman a ‘douche’ or a ‘cunt’?”
“The subway is actually a furnace capable of cooking human beings.”
“New York is everything at once. Everyone talks about what a melting pot it is, and it is, but it’s also a place where you can smell everything at once. Lots of people smoke here. Tara says a regular pack of cigarettes costs $13.00. So I don’t know how anyone can afford it. But clearly they do. I like the smell of cigarettes. Always have, so I don’t mind. There’s smoke, perfume, soaps, sweat, dirt, other body odors (!), excrement, old filth smell that plumes up from the underground grates.”
“No one should wear black underwear under white pants.”
“Instant coffee is stupid.”
End of actual notes from travel notes. I don’t love New York the way a lot of truly creative wonderful people love it. I’ve been three times now and each time I had the sensation that it would kill me pretty quickly if I lived there. The energy there is so intense that it vibrates in my blood. I can’t sleep well, I can’t shut out the perpetual buzz. A child can get so lost there in seconds, a child can disappear like vapor, invisible.
What I love about it is that when I’m walking around there it’s so inclusive (even though there are tensions everywhere) so that being white or black becomes somewhat meaningless. Being straight or gay is of no consequence. The energy that prevents me from living there is the same energy that fills me with an incredible awe for the thick human diversity.
I have been sequestered in this small town in the bible belt of Oregon and going to New York was like communing with nature, in a way. It was magnificently multicultural. I am nothing but a piece, and I am comfortable with that.
I sat outside to eat at an Italian restaurant on the east side of Midtown and the flow of people was like slow lava. It reminded me of dining on the patio of a restaurant in Jerusalem, just outside of the old city. The heat, the humidity, the light and the international languages being spoken across my salad. Deja vu.
The real signal that I needed to take a break from blogging was the post where I basically said I hate all human beings. The truth is I love them. All of them. But they frighten me. They disgust me sometimes. They are small and wretched. Yet when they rise above their base instincts and do amazing things my breath is taken away. I can’t bear a world in which we hate people for the color of their skin or for their economic background or their sexual orientation.
Walking among the yamakas, hijabs, dreadlocks, afros, waspy plastic jobs, gothic regalia, men holding men’s hands, people who’s sexuality is a complete mystery, and ordinary secretarial types… I felt as though everyone belonged, everyone was perfect.
Just as they are. And doesn’t that reflect on me as well? I am not a super-model. I am fat America. I am imperfection incarnate. I am dark and viscous. I am the gum on someone’s shoe. Still, what I love about New York is that there is room for absolutely everyone. I’ve never felt less self conscious of who I am.
Okay. I admit I felt pretty damn self conscious about being pork-chick. However, I belonged. I did. I love that New York is unapologetic. I would like to be unapologetic too. That’s what I promised I’d be in 2009. I may not have truly made the mark but I sure as hell gave it my best shot.
What felt good was to stretch my legs across forty New York blocks a day. What felt good was to see the details; the trash heaped up double width at the curb stinking thick in the night, the lights obliterating the stars (New York has its own constellation), saying a non-secular prayer for the homeless sleeping on cathedral steps because New York is so unkind in winter I can only hope they all have warmer places to stay when the snow comes, the subway rat waddling under the rail as though so fat from the crumbs of life it couldn’t run.
I couldn’t write while I was there. I wanted to invoke the rites of all writers: to stay in a hotel all day long with typewriter clacking away, making the windows shiver and the traffic stall, to not get a blow job perhaps, but to chew grit against the sharp skyline and spit words out like black Oregon teeth.
I couldn’t do it. Nothing.
I took my son to New York with me when he was three and a half. He remembers the Central Park Zoo. Barely. This time I kept thinking of him. I have this one child. I want him to appreciate the world. I want him to NOT grow up to be Glenn Beck. The whole trip I thought of this young son of mine. I believe that growing up in Oregon has some benefits and I’m happy for Max to enjoy the quiet of our little town, which he loves dearly. Yet I would be remiss if I didn’t endeavor to give him more than McMinnville. I want to take him back to New York City.
I want him to feel comfortable walking amongst yamakas, hajibs, berets, women and women loving each other, men and men loving each other, Dominican Republic people dancing on 6th avenue, transexuals, Russians, French people, Nigerians, hipsters, rappers, hoofers, South Americans, Mexicans, Midwesterners, rockers, artists….
I may never want to live in New York but I will always be comfortable visiting it.