Let's preface this trip by saying I thought we were going to die.
When my Dad walked around the east corner of my house I tried to imprint his face into my brain just in case I would get to take it into the next life. That's Dad. That's the last time we saw each other and we said I love you and goodbye and smiled and that was a good way to go.
When Kim got in the car in Memphis it was only after she had two sweet kisses with Mark in front of the car. They looked at each other like people do in the movies and said two lovely, soft, looking into each others' eyes goodbyes. Sitting next to me all buckled she said, What? when I said, That was a great last goodbye.
Then she laughed when I told her that we could die on this trip so it was important to say good last goodbyes. Then I backed out the driveway.
I had an immediate problem with the city. Okay, I'll be honest. I had numerous complaints with the city. All of which I verbalized to Kim.
First thing to tell the friend who will be traveling with you.
Though we have been friends for over thirty years there is a high probability that we will no longer be friends after this trip. Are you willing to accept that?
Kim said yes which either meant she was really hoping to lose me as a friend or she wanted to watch as I lost my mind and the ability to walk without pain.
Kim stands at four foot eleven and missed her calling as the head of a boot camp. When she goes to places with Mark she tells him what they are going to do and he says, Whatever you say, Parker.
I said, What tha hell. Kim. Are you kidding me?
For two days we walked it. No cab. No bus. No subway. All pavement and ankles and calves and hips. On day two I looked at the flow of people in China Town and simply said, I'll sit out here on a bench. I'll be out here. You go in there.
Then I looked for a bench and there wasn't any and I followed her into a hustle of salmon swimming upstream and eyes averted and a camera around my neck but never lifted. Kim maneuvered it like she had a map in her head because she had one in her purse to accompany her atlas in the car and an iPhone.
While I was busy preparing for death Kim was finding ways for us to survive.
|Virginia is for lovers.|
It's just that New York made me uncomfortable in one of those ways where we have to confront ourselves. Standing and walking within all the reasons tourists go to the city I had to look in a mirror of how and what I sell. what I give. what is the difference.
I had to find someone who claimed that city as their own to tell me what and why they loved. I didn't want a t-shirt. I wanted an intimate experience. I wanted to feel love in New York City.
It happened at 3am on the third morning. I was alone under a covered stoop, drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette. I heard a guy's voice getting closer on my left. He said, Fuckin' gish.
The girl he was with laughed.
And I smiled at her laugh and the word gish because I had never heard the word gish. And all of a sudden I had a New York word which was said in the best New York accent and I smiled again as I pulled the coffee to my lips and he walked by and saw me.
Once past me he stopped, returned to my cave, looked inside and said, How are you today? I did a thumbs up, laughed and replied, Really good. Thank you for asking. And you? How are you doing?
Really well. I am doing really well.
That's it. That's all it took for me to fall in love with New York. It's people.
Today I am grateful for how huge the smallest of moments can seem.