Thursday, September 16, 2010

New York

In the year 2001, for some reason, I kept a journal. I began on April 27 and finished on December 30. At the time it seemed like a pointless exercise but in revisiting it nine years later, it's actually quite interesting. I say that not because I'm self-centered (which, of course, I am) but because in reading it now, it seems as if someone else wrote it. I don't recognize myself. A lot of it is banalities, much of it repetitive and boring, but I wrote so much (nearly 82,000 words) that some of it just happened to hit the spot. I was suffering some sort of catastrophic depressive episode at the time, the likes of which (Thank God) I've never experienced again. Serendipitously, in my writings, I happened to cover my move to New York. It's odd reading about how new the city seemed to me, every neighborhood revealing itself to be something slightly different than I'd expected.

The move to New York, in September, was a difficult one. I had packed up pretty much everything I owned in my Nissan hatchback and drove from Philadelphia to New York. I'd lined up an apartment on 112th st. between Broadway and Amsterdam, where I would share a place with a new faculty member at Columbia. I didn't really know her, had met her only once when I checked out the place. I didn't have any friends in New York although I had a few acquaintances. But the whole move was basically a solitary affair. Here's what I wrote:

Today was supposed to be the best day of my life. And it is, in some ways it is. After 16 years in this country, I’ve finally come home.

But it’s also the most bittersweet of days. The most bittersweet day of my life. This was today. As I drove on the NJ Turnpike, my emotions ran the gamut of sheer euphoria and excitement – to sadness and despondence. From hope for a new life to wishing my car would just veer off the freeway and I would die in some conflagration. Each feeling lasted seconds. Nothing too serious. But dusk on the NJ Turnpike (generally an extremely ugly stretch of America) was awesome. I arrived in this city alone. And that will prove to be the best part of all of this. I did it all by myself.

There's something odd about moving to a new place alone, without a goodbye (from the old place) or a welcome (to the new place). You really feel completely cut off from everything, completely free.

Anyway, what I listened to on my headphones that fall of 2001 was this song, over and over and over, as I walked in a dirty winter jacket, my Converse, crazy hair, chain-smoking cigarettes in the dirty New York winter winds, which later soundtracked one of my favorite movies of all time. Both the song and the movie on my mind today:


Anonymous said...

Kate 4 Richard!

spaceman said...

Yeah, Kate 4 Richard indeed, mainly cuz that relationship inspired Jason Pierce to write some of his best "broken heart" stuff....