Thursday, April 25, 2013

a decade

Ten years ago yesterday, I arrived in this city. It was dark by the time my flight landed, cold, and a little rainy if I remember correctly. I took a taxi from the airport with all of my belongings stuffed into two pieces of luggage to my friend Niki's apartment in Red Hook. I spent the next few days, walking around, looking for jobs, looking for apartments, taking in everything, so incredibly happy to be in this city that I had dreamed about on and off ever since I was a kid. 

I can't believe that it has been ten years. I still remember that taxi ride from the airport to my friend's apartment in Red Hook and how thrilling that was. I had no home, no set plans, no job waiting for me. I was in this city, New York City, and I would have to figure out how to make this work. I had nowhere else to go and little savings. The first months I did so quickly, filled with drive, getting a job at the Strand, hopping around various sublets until I got an apartment, and going to just about every reading and concert I possibly could. It was almost impossible to be tired in those first few years. I was living the dream.

Things have changed so much. I no longer talk to Niki. I no longer talk to quite a few people that I used to be really close friends in those first few years, some by choice, others just by the gradual fading away, calls to each other spaced further and further apart until at some point they just stop. When I first moved here, the smoking ban had just taken effect, and there were still quite a few bars that were taking their time complying with the ban, and my jeans carried the odor of stale smoke. The Strand had yet to undergo its renovations. It didn't have air-conditioning and I sweated through the summer, the dust from the books collecting to my sweat. Williamsburg was such a different neighborhood then. The new condos that dot every block had yet to appear. The apartment that I lived in for my first few years was a 3 bedroom apartment right off the Lorimer stop for 1500 total, an amount that now seems like a dream. I walk around that neighborhood and can still remember certain buildings that no longer exist, see ghosts superimposed over tall new residential buildings. There was no such thing as a smartphone yet or Facebook. People weren't spending every second looking down at a screen. It was such a beautiful time. People still got lost.

I moved here with vague dreams of being a writer, of living some artist life, and hanging out with cool people, of having lots of sex, of my candle burning at both ends. The candle burning at both ends part I definitely lived. There has also been a good deal of sex, of romance, and also of, its twin, heartbreak. I will be the first to admit that I have failed in some major ways though, that I have been incredibly lazy and wasted precious time. I have failed to seriously pursue writing. There has been this diary project, which I have been very good about keeping up, but I have failed to write fiction pieces, stuff apart from this diary. 

A few days, I was walking around the Lorimer stop, thinking about my time in this city, brushing my shoulders past memories on the sidewalk. They walked quick in the other direction, not stopping to apologize about bumping into me. I walked past Fly Rite tattoo as they were opening and popped in. I got myself a tattoo of 424 on my wrist, a celebration of living here for ten years, but also a reminder that I couldn't escape, something I would see anytime I looked at my hands, a reminder of what it is I moved here for, what it felt like ten years ago to arrive in this city, a call to hold on to those dreams and pursue them.

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