“New York doesn’t need anyone,” I said, a pro-lifer holding a fetus poster in front of an abortion clinic – unnecessary, over-emotional.
He didn’t agree or disagree, he told me he was working on a film with David Bowie.
“If you get hit hard enough, long enough, you go numb. It isn’t until it stops that you feel the whole-body heartbeat of pain. It wasn’t until I got away from there that I realized it was killling me.” I said, and sighed one of those below-sea-level-sighs.
There was at least five seconds of dead air. She was flabbergasted; it reminded me of my mother’s reaction when I told her Lily Tomlin was a lesbian.
“New York? It’s like being a drum major of a marching band, 24/7 – the music’s getting loud, my arm’s sore from holding the baton and I’m starting to wonder why I’m wearing a Q-tip on my head.” I said, sad, but smiling about it.
He nodded with aware ignorance and said he’s always heard it’s a different universe.
The first time we sang “New York’s not my home” (Jim Croce and I, he on vinyl and I on vodka) I was singing about Orlando. I was done with French Onion Dip and a Play Misty For Me admirer and Paradise Island and Uninformed Film Instructors and…I was done.
Now I’m sober and we’re singing about the same place. Dammit, it’s happening again. I’m swelling under the skin of my city. I have to leave it behind and move on. New York was supposed to stick, it was supposed to be the super glue city, but it’s just a post-it like every other place. But He knew I had to exorcise my ambition, so He let me be Macbeth for awhile – just long enough for me to realize how worthless it all is.
Because it is all worthless, except for when I’m in the church sanctuary, in my ripped jeans and white undershirt, my arms reaching upward like trees, and the sun humbling itself to meet them.