Sep 19, 2007

Almost Autumn in New York


It's not quite autumn; not for another three days. But Larry and I spent a lovely end of summer vacation in New York last week with our good friends, Dave and Heather. If there were such thing as four peas in a pod, I guess it would be the four of us. Dave and Larry are both writer-editors. Heather and I are both writers. The guys are introverts, the girls are extroverts. And it goes on. Plus we can get together and talk about art and books and story and faith, and we can laugh together. They were the perfect couple to enjoy New York together. It was Larry's first trip to New York City, so I was very excited for him to see it.

The first day we walked everywhere, from 76th and Columbus down to the Central Library. We stopped in at the new offices of IAM, where my old roommate Christy works. IAM is a great organization that fosters bridges between the worlds of fine art and faith. I love Christy, I've watched her grow as an artist and a person, and she is so excited about the work they do. It was really great to see her. And she had on this killer scarf, I forgot to ask her where she bought it.

We hopped the subway downtown and took a much-needed break on the Staten Island Ferry. Gorgeous views, mild temperatures, and a stunning view of the city. Did I mention this was Larry's first time in New York?

That night we were knackered, so we got back to the apartment and popped in one of the movies that was there. "You've Got Mail." I pretty much hate that film. Way over directed. Poor Meg was told to "act cute," and "make a face like you're reading an email as you walk down the street. Now pout." Blecch. Tom Hanks is good in everything he does, and he was spared the "act cute" direction. We groaned and sighed through it. But oh it was fun! Because it was filmed almost entirely in the area we were staying. "See Larry, that's Zabars, the store we were just in. That's the subway stop we just came out of. That's Riverside Park where we walked down to watch the boats. It was like watching a video you'd just taken. And well it's new York, it's glorious, and a glorious time of year to be there.

I also stopped in to see my agents, and they'd love to have me back in the city long-term. Which got us thinking and scheming about that. If Larry could work from home that is. Ah what fun it would be to spend a few months in Manhattan. Just to say you did.

We saw some great art at the Met, as always. Go to the rooftop sculpture garden for a great view of the park! Then we saw a fantastic exhibit at the Whitney: The Summer of Love: the Art of Psychedelia of the 1960s. One of the best shows I've seen in years, because they had this great soundtrack that went with the show.

It got really trippy when I approached a furniture installation. A sort of yellow Submarine funhouse you'd expect to see at a Timothy Leary be-in. Patrons had to remove their shoes and socks to enter, and formed a queue around the side. There was a large entrance hole guarded by a midget Ghandi. I carefully edged around the far perimeter so no one thought I was cutting in line, I just wanted to catch the view. Well Ghandi, in a very bad-karma manner, started yelling.
"YOU MUST BE REMOVING YOUR SHOES AND STANDING IN LINE!"
"Sir I just wanted to look."
"THEN LOOK, and GO!" and he shoved his finger at the back of the line."
The people in the queue startled quiet.
I looked at him: "Sir, there is no reason for you to speak to me like that."
He shouted at me again, but his tone changed: "No problem! No Problem! LOOK... and GO!" as if his Go meant "Step Right Up!" I breathed calmly and walked away. I'd watched a kid shove his way into a shoeless installation with his roller sneakers on, so I imagined these guards had been stressed out all weekend. It was the final two days, after all.

Later on, Larry walked past a guard who barked, "NO PICTURES!" Larry had worn his camera all weekend. He assured the guard he had no intention of taking pictures. "Well I'm just telling you, NO PICTURES!"
"Does it look like I'm getting ready to take a picture?"
"Th...this is my job, man. Okay? No pictures!!'
Peace out, man.
Well, we asked for a happening and we got it. That's New York.

We spent an evening walking around the East Village, checking out the places where Andy Warhol had his crew, places that now sold sunglasses, belly button rings and bongs. There's no CBGB's any more but there is a GBGB shop where you can buy T-shirts and coffee mugs and toe socks. Like most organic social movements, The East Village has gone Consumer. Is there any organic social movement going on right now? Or is everything a redux? Even the organic movement has gone Whole Foods on us.

Dave and Heather met up with the daughter of some old friends. A lovely, young, talented woman who's working in publishing and living in the East Village. She graciously showed us her apartment complex, a sprawling building populated with 20 somethings, Men in finance and women in modeling. She took us up to the tenth floor rooftop and we admired the view. She pointed out the three-story penthouse on top of a nearby building. "That's my dream someday," She cooed. "The guy who owns that is only 35. He comes into my bar. He's very lonely." I wondered if she thought the loneliness would come with the penthouse.

Memories flooded back to me, of my first days in New York, when I thought my trajectory was upward. Yet I never wanted a three-story penthouse above a bong shop. And I never felt at home among the young, beautiful, carousing New Yorkers. Not then and not now. I started to feel lonely and that creeping nausea of envy and regret and disgust seeped into my breath. She invited us out to a wine bar, but Larry and I politely declined. We walked back to the subway; through St. Marks Place, past the toe socks and toe rings, and headed back to the comfort of the upper west side. If I had been going back alone and unmarried, I'd have been really depressed. But I was with Larry. He's never wanted a three-story penthouse over a bong shop. It's so good to be with someone who wants the things you want.

Sunday the weather turned crisp and cool. We went to church, where they sang old hymns, and the pastor spoke about real things. Not some lame self-help message with stupid anecdotes, like the place we had endured last week. He spoke about God; and in his message we found more than help, we found adoration and peace. We walked home through a street fair, ran into a celebrity couple. I smiled, they smiled back and disappeared into the crowd where no one bothered them. I love New York.

So the weekend was gone. Dave and Heather had to go back. This was hard for Larry. He and Dave have been friends for over 25 years. They're family, really. And Larry feels his most alive, as a creative man of faith with family who really know him. We both cried when they got into the cab.

But we didn't let the melancholy sit for too long. My friend Chris invited us over to his eastside apartment for barbecued steak on his back patio, which he's turned into a garden. Yes, this is the upper east side, not some garden in New Jersey.

I've known Chris a good 18 years now. Wow. That's almost as long as Larry and Dave have been friends. My friend Chris. I can probably say that over half of my accents and characters sprang from silly conversations between Chris and myself. Chris is creative, talented, a man of great faith and horribly incorrect humor. Which is why I love him.

We left Monday. Larry had one last wish to get a piece of real NY pizza. So we grabbed a last slice and headed to the airport to fly standby since our 8pm flight wasn't going to leave until 11pm. We got on the 4pm plane and watched New York disappear under our wings.

I'm already missing it.

I only had time to see two of my New York friends on this trip. It was frustrating. I didn't even get to have a cup of Dunkin Donuts Coffee! Man, it burned. It made me long to come back. the way Larry longed to see Dave again soon. SO I said, "Let's remember this longing, this burn. because it means we should do something about it."

We're back home, imagining a life in New York. Maybe just a few months: Larry freelancing or working from home in some apartment near Zabars; me doing voice overs and writing and doing my solo show. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Larry's dreaming about it too.

4 comments:

Lisa Milton said...

Great pictures, especially that last one. It's quite sad, my lack on East Coast experience.

I imagine I will get there eventually. I hope it works out for you sooner.

Christopher Myers said...

Great shot in the arm description of my town. In the LA Times there is the 'Only in LA' column. And your line, 'That's New York' is the east coast equivalent; great memories and scary ones. The two go hand in hand, like a great meal and the eventual visit to the toilet. Sacred + Profane = LIFE

Annina said...

Fabulous. So good to see your prose, and to see you and Larry happy and clicking on all creative cylinders. What in the worrrrld could be better than that!

Christy said...

Hey Suz! Thanks for being so sweet - I love you too, and it was GREAT seeing you! PS - I got that great scarf at a Goodwill in Roanoke, VA. :-) Come back soon - New York is not the same without you, and I think Larry would LOVE living here (except when he hates it, but that would just make him a normal New Yorker!)

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