The One About the Whale

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
– Winston Churchill

New York City is filled with lies.

Men, women — everyone loves to lie.  Separate, together.  But there’s a difference, grammatically, between to lay, and to lie.  You see, when you bed someone, you say that you laid someone, or you got laid.  You do not say that you lied with someone, unless you were part of a conspiracy, or maybe you lied to lay someone.

I cannot say that I have not been a New York City liar myself.  To say so would be a lie.  And I cannot say that I have not been lied to in New York City, because this writing has sometimes been a travelogue through those (real and perceived) wrongs.

What I have learned in eight years here is that this is a mean city.  And the truth travels much slower than fiction.  If the truth is the 6 train leaving 77th Street, then falsehood is the express in the bowels of 86th street — both bound for Grand Central, but one is fated to travel father, faster (unless it’s raining, or the wind is blowing in a north-westerly direction, or someone spilled a coffee, or it’s the third Monday of the month, in which case, all bets are off.)

What I am saying, too, is that, after eight years, I have learned not to take it as personally, but I have also learned that my choices make me part of the problem.  And I have learned that some people simply don’t know better.  They come here, and this is a mean existence.  People come here and live six to a sardine tin, and they scrape by as best they can, and they try to catch the express train by shoving their way on.  So they can leave their railroad apartments just to be sardines again on the subway; guppies in the big office pond; maybe, if they’re lucky, they can be Jonah swallowed up by the whale.

What I am saying, mostly, is that I once lived three terrible New York City days, and those days have informed Everything Else — they have been the capstone of my experience here.  What I learned is that you can be a sardine, or a guppie, or whatever kind of big or small fish — a humanoid one, even — but in the end, the only way out of the whale is the slow and truthful one.  It is the way in which one begs for forgiveness and mercy; the one in which one looks for a sign; and the one in which one hangs the hell on.

New York City may be filled with lies, but one need not be consumed or defined by them.

(Throughout the month of June, I’ll be writing a series of New York-related posts, and/or inviting some friends to guest post about their New York experiences, to celebrate my eight years in New York City.)

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