Friends and Seinfeld. Woody Allen, Ed Burns, Dave Letterman. New York, New York. Fifth Avenue and Times Square and the Upper East Side. Oh, to have address in the Seventies near Central Park, but not in a building of white brick, not embarrassing white brick, oh god no. Stand at the corner of Lexington and 54th and listen to men in suits say fuck this and that and fuck so-and-so and ride the B train with the tightest-packed bunch of silent people you’ve ever seen and be scared at first because you’ve never been somewhere so big and fast and mean and keep one fist tight on the strap of your bag and your wallet in your front pocket, then get off and meet the woman you traveled so far to see at Hurley’s because you know it from Letterman and eat the most delicious chicken caesar salad ever made served by some happy stranger with a strange accent and decide maybe this town isn’t so bad.
Don’t walk the streets at night, not until she says it’s okay, then go out at night while you wait for her to get off work and walk and walk and find new things and neighborhoods and girls walking dogs alone and find a park, not Central Park, but a small, stupid, beautiful park by the water with more dogs and people and walk back, and pass by those things you see right after the commercials and right before Conan comes back and say to yourself there that thing is, that’s all there is to it? it looks bigger on TV.
Find a movie theater and pay way too much to see Mel Gibson even though you can’t stand Mel Gibson but the show starts at six-thirty and it’s raining and it’s six-thirty right now. And walk back sixteen blocks in a wind that blows the rain that won’t stop that’s soaking your backpack that’s been with you since you got off the plane and be angry and pissed at the wind and rain and absence of cabs that cost too much anyway and stuff your cold hands in your pockets and curse god — and suddenly laugh, because you’re in this place that’s not so bad and so is the woman you just fell in love with all over again just now in the wind and rain.
Meet her at her work as she clocks out and wraps her arms around you and smiles and doesn’t care you’re windblown and wet simply because you’re here, in this big, fast, and mean town that’s much too big to be called a town. Walk to the subway with her and change trains until your home. See her new place and watch her shiver in the cold when she opens the door to show you the balcony. Meet her roommates and wait for them to go out so you can be alone with her, with this one who had the courage to come here absolutely alone. Sleep with her and wake up in the morning and ride to work with her and do it all again, and maybe then you’ll know how it hurts when you tell her you’re going to stay and she says you can’t.
Ever wonder what’s so special about New York? Why every other TV show, movie, and bestseller is by about and for New York? This is why, right here. It’s big and fast and mean and beautiful and full of life and love and fuck yous and beggars and guys playing flutes on the subway. It can make you fall in love all over again with the woman who was brave enough to come here alone and then tell you she wants to stay here, alone.
And every Friends and Seinfeld and Mad About You and Letterman writer is from Montana or Muskogee or Botswana or Texas, and they all want big and fast and mean and beautiful and here they have it and now they know it. Look ma, I’m in New York. And Fifth Avenue this and Uptown that. Downtown, the F train, the Village.
Do I sound angry? It’s only because I am. Came to see the woman who left to make a brand new start of it. She wants to wake up in the city that never sleeps. She wants to make it here, but without me. That would be too easy. She wants big and fast and mean. No one to turn to, no comforts, no distractions.
No distractions. I’m a distraction. Don’t stay. I know we talked about it. I was scared then. I’m still scared, but not like I was. I need to do this for me.
Good for you. Do it for you. You will make it. How long am I supposed to wait? Because you don’t seem to know. Five months, a year, two years? What if they do send you to London? Do you have to make it there, too? Alone? And how long will that take? How long will it take for you to prove yourself to you? And why must you push me back with your eighteen-hundred-mile-long arm?
Maybe I’ve seen, like the song says, too many romantic dreams, up in lights falling off the silver screen. That song sucks and is full of shit, and so is Ed Burns when he decides to go to Paris with that girl in She’s The One. In real life she would have told him she was going, and maybe he would have wanted to go, but he wouldn’t have. Maybe he would visit her, if he really loved her, and fallen in love with Paris and with her all over again and wanted to move there to be with her because that was what’s important. That’s when he would know it was over.
With apologies to Junot Diaz for stealing his title.