And behind the hijinks, this is a also a post that proves last week’s post completely true. Ah, how I love when life parodies art.
But, seriously. The last 14 hours or so have certainly given me pause. As a series of events unfolded, I watched as my stock responses boiled up, my instincts were stronger and I worked to make new decisions. Really, to write new stories.
To illustrate what happened, I’m going to write how I believe I would have reacted during the first 36 years of my life in red and how I actually chose to respond instead in black. Black font being the winning reality of this blog, and all.
Here we go.
I am currently in New York City. The city, someone once told me, that is so nice, they named it twice. And last night, I was supposed to meet up with a friend rather late in the evening, to catch up, yes, but also (and this next part is very important to note: so that I would have somewhere to sleep).
Why late? Because I had fabulous plans to hear Chris Velan play his music and then go out to dinner with him and several other lovely friends, old and new. And because said friend was arriving back late from a Labor Day vacation. How late? About 11 pm.
Scene 1. So, there I was. Out. Having a grand old time. When I got word from my friend that, alas, she couldn’t get back in time. Oh well, no big deal, we’d catch up later in the week.
Past: Panic, freak out. Pissed. Sure that there was no solution. I was homeless in NYC. I might die.
Present: Pissed off, yes. Because it was a big deal as now I was finding out last minute that I had nowhere to sleep. But took a deep breath and knew that I could either get a hotel or sleep in my office. On the couch. Annoying, but fine. I wouldn’t die.
Scene 2. After much annoyance trying to find the number of the hotel where I often stay and being told by 411 that it doesn’t exist and trying uselessly to find the number on my Blackberry (which uses Bing as its browser for some stupidly stupid reason). I got through, not to the hotel, but to a reservation service that I’m quite sure was located far off shore. Natalia, from Calcutta, told me that there were no rooms available. It was 9 pm.
Past: The world is against me! Now I’m going to have to sleep in my office. This sucks. Everyone hates me. I’m going to die.
Present: Really? This is ridiculous. Oh well, I guess I’ll just sleep at work. I refuse to fall down the black hole of despair.
Scene 3. I finished dinner with my friends. And jumped in a cab to head to the office—figuring that I at least deserved a cab ride over a subway ride, since I was about to get a couch in lieu of a bed—when one of my dearest friends called me and said, “Just go to the hotel, I bet they have a room.”
So, I did. And they did.
Past: Still in a crabby mood. Still angry in the change in plans. Still unable to just move on.
Present: Snuggled up in a wonderfully warm bed. Thrilled it had all worked out.
Scene 4. What is that noise? The air conditioner. Rattling like there was a mutiny of air conditioner bugs inside shaking the vent’s grate and trying desperately to get out.
Past: I swear to god, if one more thing goes wrong, I will shoot myself. Hard. Oh, and, wahhhhh.
Present: Air conditioner, you are no match for me, you don’t have a chance. Turned the light on. Looked at the air conditioner. Put my hand on the grate. Stopped the rattling. Looked for something to be my hand so that my hand could go to sleep. Found something heavy. Put it on the air conditioner. Problem fixed. Went to sleep.
Scene 5. Woke up at 5:30. And all I wanted to do was go running. But I didn’t have my shoes. They were in the office as I hadn’t wanted to lug my stuff all over Manhattan, or Tarnation, the night before and had only packed my essentials.
Past: Dammit! Now I can’t even run. I’m going to be obese and feel like crap all day. I might kill my friend that screwed all of this up for me. It’s all her fault.
Present: I could just go to the office and grab my running clothes and run from there. Perfect plan! Especially since, yesterday, I got a keycard to let me into the building during off-hours.
Scene 6. All fired up with my plan, I threw on my sun dress, jeans and flip flops that I’d been wearing the night before. I left my bra in the hotel because I’d need it when I came back to shower and get dressed for the day, I couldn’t really run with it and I’d be putting my running bra on in 10 minutes at the office.
A very astute cabbie saw me from the other side of the street, u-turned and came to get me. Five minutes later, I was at the office and I pulled out my new keycard and…and…and…and…it didn’t work.
You have to be fucking kidding me. And this is the last of that past voice we’re going to hear. Do I even have to go through the motions here? I didn’t think so. You know exactly how negative, whiny, defeatist and miserable she was.
I stood outside the door to the office, on 5th Avenue, watching delivery guys do their thing, willing someone from my office building to randomly show up for work at 6 am the morning after Labor Day weekend.
Tick, tick, tick, tick.
Scene 7: I waited for 5 minutes. And then I looked down at my self. Little cotton dress. No bra. Blue jeans. Cheap little flip flops.
I thought about Born to Run. And the Tarahumara. Who ran 100’s of miles at a time in sandals that rivaled my flip flops for foot cover.
And I started running. Felt great. Told myself I could stop if it hurt. It didn’t.
Towards the beginning, I saw a gym, and I ran in and asked if they’d found any size 6.5 women’s running shoes. They hadn’t. So I kept going.
Scene 8. And then I saw the cops.
It was on 36th street, just off the West Side Highway. There were tons of them hanging out. One clump in particular was lined up, waiting to go into a big white NYPD truck. As I ran by, I caught the eye of a young, good looking cop. “You guys lining up for your shots or something?”
On hindsight, it wasn’t the best thing to say to a cop at 6:45 in the morning. Or ever. But, I thought it was rather amusing. He did not. And, I swear to god, the cop next to him told me to ‘shut up’. Not very neighborly.
As I approached the corner, though, I found myself next to a much nicer demeanered cop. And I asked him what they were all doing. As they like to do, he thrilled at telling me nothing except that I, “shouldn’t worry, we do this all the time’. I told him my joke about the shots…and he laughed.
But then, we got to the corner. The light was red, the sign said ‘Don’t Walk’, but there were no cars coming. Usually, this is a signal for me to go about my merry way, but with the cop next to me, I recalled something about jay walking. And how it’s illegal. But then, he stepped right into the street and I followed suit. And we broke the law together.
Scene 9: I ended up running six miles. It felt great, though sticky in my jeans. And bouncy without my bra, though surprisingly not so bad, something about the fit of my dress, I ‘spose.
It did cross my mind that I must have looked rather odd, or at the very least, peculiar. But beyond some fascinated/appraising looks by the many men I passed (interestingly, there were several times more men than women out in the early morning)—no one seemed to notice.
Because this is New York. And a woman running the streets in flip flops can’t come close to some of the weird shit their eyes have seen.
In this story, I am the me that I’ve always been. The piss and vinegar that my dad (and some others) has been telling me is me was still there, DNA intact, I just poured it out in a different way.
Image credit: Neil Krug