Hard Times in New York Town

(Part Four in my series on my six years in New York)

This is life — it’s not all summer fridays and springtime in Central Park, you know.  Even under a bright blue June sky, with the blue-suited men breaking out their Hermes ties with the anchors (finally!) and the women stripping off their stockings, they still kick you when you’re up and knock you when you’re down.

In New York, there are nights when you don’t sleep.  The Second Avenue Subway sonsofbitches are working all night, and you wonder why we need a Second Avenue Subway in the first place (and then you wait for three 6 trains to pass at 7 o’clock the next morning, and remember). 

There were nights when you were sleepless for other reasons — it used to be the view up Park Avenue, unobstructed all the way to Westchester; paperclipping documents instead of stapling them; catching hell for whatever choices you made the next morning anyway.  Years spent toiling away in dungeons 30, 40 stories up in order to justify the Esq. at the end of your name, and the Mrs. at the beginning.  For what?!  Sometimes it was yelling all night; and sometimes it was screaming all night.

New York hurts, sometimes.

People disappear, and you never know.  Some stay forever but they’re invisible; some stay for only a year then they’re gone.  You don’t know it until you hear it from a friend of a friend of a friend that they’ve left New York — and you — behind.  Friends come to visit, and they only want to see New York — you are incidental to the trip.  They want lines, lines, waiting in lines — nightclubs, bars, bathrooms.  From the Staten Island Ferry to the Empire State Building; lines everywhere, buzz buzz buzz.

It wears you out.  There are lines on your face that weren’t there before you were here.

The streets are dirty; they’re full of strangers.  The filth piles up on the curbs — freezing in the winter; stinking in the summer.  You’re hiding in the open; a no one; a nobody; a number, maybe. 

Sleepless; creased; stinking, you stagger the numbered blocks; the named and ordered avenues like you are charting a course to somewhere.

But somewhere is nowhere; nowhere but here. 

So you sleep another sleepless night, and you wake to another garbage-filled morning, and you do it again.


Leave a Comment

  1. As one who lived here in the early ’80’s, escaped for nearly three decades, and now find myself here again, I could not agree more. There are wonderful things and people here but they are often (nearly always?) obscured by the less-than-wonderful things and people that seem to be everywhere. Save me.

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