I had so many cups of coffee today that I think I’ve developed an ulcer. There is some sort of bloated knot in my stomach and all I have to show for it is bad breath. If anything, the weight of the acid had dragged me down, and I feel even slower than I did this morning when I sat on the subway, staring at my own face in the window across the way, thinking “Hello, 1 train. Hello, you.”
I wonder if this is what pregnancy feels like, the heft and the bloat and the drag. I’m not pregnant. I would know if I was. I have always been extra sensitive, always a feeler in the worst sense of the word.
Everyone on the subway this morning looked drained except the tourists. You can always tell, because no one else could be bubbling over with such emotion, so much visible anticipation and zeal that it makes you feel sick to be awake so early to have an ordinary day. Their excitement probably cripples their ability to absorb anything real. “Hello 1 train!” their wide-eyes shout. “Hello, you!”
Some people, if they say something enough times, begin to believe it. Not me. The more I repeat myself, the more I see through my own lies. I was never a good liar.
I saw a therapist when I was in college who, after three semesters of unloading my problems on him, told me I was my own worst enemy. He said I was standing in the way of my own happiness, and there was nothing he could do to help me. I obsessed that for years until a friend told me she saw that same therapist and gave her the same speech. He had been a therapist for twenty years. I wonder if he told everyone that. I wonder if you tell enough people something enough times, everyone starts to believe it.
No, standing in the way of my happiness was a group of tourists. They meandered slowly down Columbus Avenue three abreast, gawking at the museum to their left and the menu of the Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill to their right. A tangled dog walker approached from the cross walk, two aging retrievers pulling in his wake. Across the avenue, the green market vendors wrapped up their unsold produce and organic chicken. The scent of warm, rotting berries mingled with fresh dog shit. That group of tourists stopped in front of the bodega, allowing themselves to be counted by a man with what sounded to me like a German accent. I wove through the roadblock. There must have been at least fifteen, all of them sweating and smiling feebly.
One of them had his shoes off. He leaned against the glass window of the bodega and wiped his brow. His shoes, tied neatly together, dangled on either side of his shoulder.
here was something else my therapist said in college, but I had forgotten it. He didn’t dispense much advice, which was okay. He was in his forties or fifties — it was hard for me to measure middle age when I was barely twenty — and went barefoot in his office. I respected that about him, at least more than I respected the degrees or piles of paperwork I had to fill out before each session. His bare feet was a badge of authenticity that alleviated how clinical and foolish the hour felt. I was depressed, but I was also staring at a grown man’s bunions.
When I asked my friend if he had taken his shoes off during her therapy sessions, she said she didn’t remember.
Wait — I remember when he had said. He told me to stop doing drugs. No, not exactly. He said something like: “Of course you’re depressed. You’re fucking high all the time.” And just like that, I didn’t feel depressed anymore. But I still got high. I got high every single day because I was in college and I was bored and had no idea what to do with myself except smoke pot. I listened to music and drank, too. But mostly I got high on a couch with a rotating cast of roommates, classmates and friends. No one, I had instructed, should ever wear any shoes or socks when they’re smoking with me.
It’s that week when New York is flooded with slow-moving tourists with expensive bags and eating disorders. The women are taller and the men are gayer. It’s fashion week. Help.
The 25th screen at the AMC Empire 25 is so high up your nose begins to bleed. After your journey of seven escalator rides to see the stars, you look out the window, high above the treacherous hell of Times Square, and swear you’re in… Midtown East. Sure, it’s not better, but somehow it is, isn’t it? You feel like everything going to be okay. As you settle into your unbearably bouncy seat, as your spine begins to strain from the pressure of folding itself into a chair built for a man two feet taller and two feet wider than you, as you look incongruously down from your raised stadium row at the screen, you forget about New York. You forget it’s pouring in Times Square. You forget about the throngs of umbrella pushers lined up outside the Duane Reade to rush at the opiate scented tourists like linebackers. For now it is just you, high above the masses, watching a movie, your hand wrapped around a sweating Diet Coke, finally feeling somewhat alone.
Posted in City, Vignette
Tagged alone, AMC Empire 25, chair, Diet Coke, duane reade, escalator, linebackers, midtown east, movie, movie theater, nose bleed, okay, pouring, pressure, screen, stadium seating, Times Square, tourists, umbrella
So we walked out on the building on 8th avenue. It was surrounded by slow-moving fat-assed tourists gawking at Columbus Circle from over their floppy Sbarro slices.
Instead, I find myself moving to an apartment in Stuy Town. If I was any more east I’d be in the river. But if I had to deal with anymore mice in this tiny little bedroom uptown, I’d throw myself in.