Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you."

Eight years and a couple of days ago, April 24, 2003, a young gay boy recently kicked out of college in Florida and ready for the next stage of his life, moved to a city he had always dreamed about, a promised land where things would be magical and full of art and meaning and beauty. There was no real plan, no job, no apartment lined up, just a desire to live here and a small amount of cash in a bank account. I had little savings and all of my belongings in two big pieces of luggage. I arrived late at night to Niki's apartment in Red Hook, a cab dropping me off in front of her house. I buzzed her apartment, this still before I had a cell phone. I had arrived and was so excited.

Every year since then, I have tended to celebrate this day, this anniversary, it an important one for me, a birthday of sorts, the day I decided to really take control of my life, it no longer being dictated by certain geographical demands, by being under my parent's care or by being in college. It was the day I set into motion a greater independence and a more assertive say in what type of person I would be. This is a city of refugees and immigrants, some domestic ones. We all came to Oz, the Emerald City. In certain ways and on particular days, we have discovered the little man behind the curtain, have seen this place for what is, and longed for the comforts of Kansas. There are days when the flying monkeys are really just too much to deal with.

Luckily, the weather has finally improved and spring seems to actually have arrived, comfortably warm temperatures and bursts of brilliant sunshine showing off the buds on trees. Sunday, one of these warm days, the actual anniversary of this date, I went to the piers and read from Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name, my shirt off for the first time this year, my skin again being touched by sunshine, cute boys nearby looking around at cute boys, beautiful dogs, blankets spread out, a city set free from their prison towers they had been confined to for months. I met up with Jacob after he got off work and we walked along the Hudson River from Battery Park City up to the West Village and then ate some good food at Westville. A rainstorm, light, had started by the time we left the restaurant, and we stopped in some shops on the way back to the train. I purchased a copy of Paris is Burning and when we left the store, the storm had turned torrential, buckets of rain dropping from the sky, us without an umbrella. We ran to the subway and rode it home dripping wet, soaked and happy.

Those are the days I moved here for. Yesterday was the day I moved here for. I met up with Erica and Alex at Wreck Room early in the evening and we shared drinks and chatted with the bartender who kept pouring us shooters to drink with her, us getting more and more wrecked, very appropriately. We then got on the train and went uptown to Providence to see the Drag Race finale and meet up with many old co-workers who we had convinced to come as well. The line was two blocks long, was insane. There was no way were ever going to get in. Everyone was ready to give up; plans were already being made to go elsewhere, conversation about what bar to go to. I was not about to miss seeing Carmen Carerra, Yara Sofia, Raja, Manilla, and all the rest of the girls in the flesh. I was determined to get into this shindig. I led Erica and Alex, the only ones who had something close to my interest in seeing this, up to the front of the line where I was about to pull out some tricks. I told the lady at the front of the line that we were on Manilla's list.

Manilla doesn't have a list, she said, shooting me down.

Well, we're also on X's list, I said, pulling out a name of someone else I thought might have a list.

Even if you are, she said, you still need to get in line.

I was not having this. My brain was devising potential schemes, looking for any chance, and one soon presented itself. She just let a big group into the venue, and while she was busy with her list and the line, I followed them inside, trying to get Erica and Alex to join me. They were hesitant and were left behind, casualties of war. I had made it in and was so excited. Even once inside, it was still not the promised land. The place where all of the drag stars were was the main level and the plebeians were cast downstairs into the basement. You have to have a special stamp to enter the world of fun. Again, I pulled a similar stunt and when I saw a big group of people being ushered into the main room, I quickly mixed myself into their group and flashed my wrist confidently and quickly, pretending I had a stamp, and he didn't look close enough to notice I didn't. I had arrived and soon was near all of these beautiful ladies that I gag over each week. Alex was soon calling me, begging me to tell him get in somehow, and after numerous attempts I got him into the building and also got him a magic stamp granting him access to the fun room. I had so much fun there. Drag Race makes me a bit delirious with glee and I was so happy last evening. At one point, I posed for some pictures with Raja, got her to sign my chest, was a mess, but a lovely mess and a happy one and the spell was cast again, this city seeming like the coolest place on the planet again.

I worked a long shift today, collecting some overtime, this job I have been doing for near three years now and this job that I don't particularly love. When I left Florida I was working a job at a hotel, and let me tell you, when I had all these grand dreams about moving to New York, this was nowhere in those dreams, to be again working in a hotel. I was already a really famous writer by this point in my dreams and living in a really awesome apartment and staying out really late every night and being a hot mess able to balance that with producing great work. And yet, I am again working in a hotel. I sometimes get sad that I don't have much to show for these eight years other than a face whose skin is not as tight, not as young looking, and a few gray hairs emerging recently. But I am living in an apartment that I like with a boyfriend that I love, that I want to spend the rest of my life with, and who is just about the cutest thing ever. I like my body and like making it more to my liking by working out, an immense pleasure in that. And my job, despite not being what I would like to be doing, despite not being what I ever envisioned myself doing, does pay enough to live my life comfortably and eat nice food when I so desire to. But then there are always those fears that Party Down articulated so brilliantly, that weird moment in one's life at which point they accept a career they never wanted for themselves and as they dream less and less about the ambitions they once harbored, essentially the slow process of dreams dying. I've got to move. The window is smaller and smaller, almost closed, in which I can still start a job path I am interested and in which I can still produce writing that comes from a place of fire. And though it may seem otherwise, I am really excited about my life in these upcoming months and days and the potential that I can seen in them.

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