This week’s reports from the city’s reality
There is an old expression that says, “New York is a mirror,” essentially meaning that the city will reflect whatever your outer or inner turmoils are and send them back at you. It seems that there’s some degree of truth to this. Whenever I’m in a rush to get someplace or running late, the subways are moving at a snail’s pace, but on days when I’m not, you could set your watch to the New York City Mass Transit Authority. The other day I was rushing to get to a job interview, when seemingly any obstacle that could have gotten in my way suddenly manifested itself. A boy with a small dog on a leash nearly clothes-lined me when he went one way and the dog went another. A city bus decided to make a right turn down my street just as the pedestrian light turned green. The elevators were roughly the size of a telephone booth and painfully slow. To top it all off, when I finally did arrive at my destination, dripping with sweat in my best power suit, the office bulldog (this company has an office bulldog) caught wind of the sandwich in my bag and decided to have himself a look. I politely shooed him away only to get a vindictive growl for my efforts. Here’s hoping the guy interviewing me didn’t have the same reaction to my resume. I plan to take all the goodwill I can muster and put it forward as I continue on my strange new adventures. So as I write this, I’m politely envisioning that the subway will be kind and not give birth to a deadly strain of parasitic bacteria on the way home. That wouldn’t be fun.
Certain things should simply be illegal during a morning commute. Public displays of affection are one such offense. On a recent early morning trip downtown on the A train, I was baffled by a couple sitting near me. They looked like magnets, constantly drawing their lips together and making a sucking sound each time. I simply couldn’t stand it. Not only was the sound grating to my ears, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how downright unromantic a subway car is. Is the smell of excrement and the music of the Mexican cowboys so intoxicating that you just can’t keep your hands off of each other? I don’t get it. It’s 8 a.m., how do you even have the energy to love anything?
In book publishing, employees operate on a “Summer Friday” schedule, where everybody works negligibly later during the week in return for half-day Fridays. As a member of said industry, I’ve done my best to take advantage of this glorious opportunity, whether it’s by going to the beach on a nice day or catching a non-crowded matinee on a gloomy afternoon. However, I’ll have to stray from my usual routine this Friday when my immediate family stops by the city for a visit. The night will be reserved for a Yankees game, but the hours beforehand will be dedicated to leading my parents to their hotel, schlepping my brother’s belongings to my apartment and improvising a plan for our late lunch/early dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for their arrival — I’m just a little bummed that one of the spare moments in NYC that doesn’t feel like a huge ordeal will most likely become one. Once the logistics get sorted out, though, my family will finally see why I’m so enamored with this place.
Now that summer has officially begun, I’ve been cursed with a growing restlessness. Maybe it’s because the heat break has made it more bearable to go outside or the fact that I’m in the midst of rereading a gripping book series, but I just can’t seem to concentrate. The restaurant is fine, so that’s not it. Katie is as lovely as ever. My multi-week long throat infection has begun to retreat back the way it came. I even went to a spa for the first time the other week. No, this one goes deeper. Somewhere along the way my drive got dulled by my duties and has since been overtaken. It’s time to get back in touch with the city that inspired this whole crazy enterprise in the first place. It’s time for a vision quest.
I have always hated summer. I’ve always run hot (and had a little more insulation than most), so the heat would drive me up a wall if it didn’t also make me so goddamn sluggish. Yes, there are the joys of the beach and ice cream and barbecues, but I’ve always enjoyed those things no matter what the weather. What it basically comes down to is the fact that, when it’s cold outside, you can always bundle up — adding so many layers you become unable to bend your arms. In the heat, you can only strip down so much. To that point, nothing makes me feel so slovenly and disgusting as sitting almost naked on a couch. Maybe it’s the fact that I remind myself of John Goodman’s character in Barton Fink. Maybe it’s the fact that I leave a sweat imprint on those really bad days. Either way, I’d rather walk through eight feet of snow — even in Brooklyn, the land of the Vanishing Plowmen — than deal with sweated-through clothing and heat rash before I even get to work.