I’ve had the last couple of days off, and yesterday I fell into what some like to call “the zone.” In addition to the stream-of-consciousness piece below, I also wrote several thousand words on a short story I’ve been chipping away at for months. It was a good day.
What You Wanted When You Moved To New York City
Here are the days you don’t want when you move to the city: the day you see a dozen cockroaches go scattering in your Bushwick apartment’s kitchen cupboard. The day you and your roommate, a childhood friend, wake up covered in bed bug bites. The day the train explodes down the track, leading to a panic attach so bad it gets you to the doctor for the first time in two years. The day you —
Anyway, those aren’t the days you want.
Today is the day you want.
You were tired and had been off all day the day before, so you went to bed at eight p.m. not feeling like you’d missed out on a thing. Thanks to that, you wake up, and it’s six a.m., and you’ve had ten solid hours of sleep.
The first thing you do is pee. Then you write. And you write and you write. And you write some more. And you’re just going over notes, just refining ideas, but it’s something beyond feeling what you thought you’d be feeling.
And then it’s the time you would normally wake up and you’ve already been through one revision and printed it, and you’re going to review it once more this morning, and after that, go for a walk.
And it happens just like that. And no one calls you and you don’t get interrupted and there’s not a problem with having your flow disrupted by anybody else’s drama, and when you leave your apartment it’s a little breezy, a little cool, but you just walk. And walk. And walk.
I cracked up when I saw this sign. Fantastic.
And when you get to the L train you just walk on board and take it out to Williamsburg and when you get there you walk up north eighth and a little down Berry towards Blue Bottle but you don’t really believe Blue Bottle exists on that strange, deserted hill, and anyways, all the coffee places in Williamsburg seem like they’d harsh your creative buzz at two on a Friday afternoon, so eventually you circle around back up Driggs and get back on the L and take it back to First Ave, where you were thinking of getting off the train on your way out anyway, but you didn’t.
And you think you’re going to Simone’s, at St. Marks and First. But you get there and it’s two thirty or so now, and the sign says that on Friday, Happy Hour doesn’t start till four, and the hell with it if you’re going to pay full price for a drink that would be half price any other day.
Besides, you’re outside and there’s sunshine and you don’t need to use the bathroom yet. You walk down First and as you pass the McDonald’s and the Duncan Donuts (and the small bar you never noticed before, in between) you think, that’s the spot where that guy and his girlfriend were sitting when I bought them breakfast that time. You felt guilty for being able to offer to buy them a bagel and a coffee each, when he reacted, but all you could do was do it. Afterwards, your family told you you’d been too soft hearted.
You haven’t bought food for anybody in a while.
You walk down first Avenue and a few times you want to turn down one of the streets; at sixth you think, it’s too early for dinner and at fifth and fourth you think, the streets there are shaded… eventually you hit a street with a development where you know there’s an outpost of Vselka, and you’re curious, so you cut across.
The shade is cooler now but it’s been about an hour and a half of walking – first around Williamsburg, now around the East Village – so you keep walking past the taco stand and onto Bowery, on westward to First, then south to Houston (not even half a block) and along the way.
A chance of timing at the lights sends you to the south side of the street, where overlapping shadows cast across the pavement. You’re thinking about a bloody mary now, the ones they serve at Lure with the little shrimp cocktail. It’s neither the time nor the day for Bloody Marys but you’ve walked enough to feel like it’s time for a sip, so…
You use the bathroom at Lure; it’s elegant and clean, and the servers are friendly (when you do drink there, you always make sure to tip well).
A bier hall in the West Village. A little piece of Brooklyn. Bigger on the inside. Something in the day’s perambulation finally clicks, and now it’s time to sit at the bar, sip a beer and write.
You have your notes with you, and something has shifted, everything is blocked out, beyond the paper and a pen made from recycled bottles.
A thousand words pass. Your phone battery dwindles to yellow, then red, and meanwhile you make your way down a strange narrative pathway that seems both inevitable and unnatural.
It’s been a seven-hour walk and there are still hours left in the day. Hours to fill, and reasonable achievement already accomplished.
You head home.
These are the days you wanted when you moved to New York City.