The good kind of hurt

First trip up was in the U-Haul. She drove. I rode shotgun. Had a few breakdowns along the way, not mechanical. I said the wrong thing, her pupils shrank, she went shields up, pulled onto the shoulder, unbuckled her seatbelt, ran back into the cargo space with her furniture and boxes. I sighed and rolled my eyes, unbuckled and found her curled up on the futon. I hovered over her and went into soothe and stroke mode, thinking goddamn it’ll be nice to be free again.

I had the video-camera out when Manhattan surfaced, started filming out the passenger window as we saw it rise through the bridge wires, started singing Frank Sinatra, spreadin’ da news. I thought it would make for good video; made me laugh, anyway.

I was alone in that.

We found Hoboken, pulled up to the apartment she’d signed for online never having seen it. It was nice. Hardwood floors, her own room, not a railroad like I later learned the friends she’d made had to deal with, my god. We moved her in and met her roommates. I wanted the roommates to go away, and they did, they had plans. We found the balcony and I filmed her against the skyline, asked her how it felt in the big city. She seemed put off by that, that pupils thing again. I said I wanted to see some of the city. Had only 24 hours before my flight but lots of battery left. Not what she wanted at that moment.

In the morning, walking Manhattan, she scowled at me, said I looked like a tourist as I narrated with my camera pointed straight up towards the tops of things, or straight at Radio City. We stopped for pizza and she coached me through quickly moving to the side and stuffing my change in a pocket. Said we couldn’t be slow or we’d upset the locals.

At the airport she waited with me as I checked in. Held my hand, squeezed, thanked me, told me how wonderful I was for helping her, didn’t say love. I told her be brave, be strong, you can do it, see you soon. She said she couldn’t have done it without me, hinted she didn’t want me to go, didn’t say don’t go. I didn’t see the big deal. I’d be back. Could use the break.

Second trip up, I flew. Got the whim, missed her, missed the city that had been so cool. She met me at the airport, came running and threw her arms around me and I think her feet left the ground. Lots of sex that weekend, and a carriage ride through Central Park. She took time off from work and I swear I took a great picture of us at the Statue of Liberty at the same angle as that one with John Lennon, except without John Lennon, but when I got the pictures back, it wasn’t in the package, not sure what happened.

The goodbye at the airport was a good goodbye, and I think we talked about me coming up to stay but now that I think about it she said more than once that I should think about it, make sure it was a good next step, whatever that meant.

Third trip up, she emailed bus routes from the airport to the city. I had to get help from some locals. The most helpful locals, I found, were the relocated ones, the ones who’d made a brand new start of it, having come up from somewhere else, just like her. I flagged a cab after getting off the bus, found her new building, got there early and waited on a couch in the lobby for, like, a long time. She came down smiling, and greeted me with hands on my forearms, then on second thought decided I was worth a hug.

There was some lackluster I guess we have to do this sex, but now I think about it, that might have been towards the end of the second trip.

I paid too much for a bad Mel Gibson movie while she was working, then walked back to meet her in a howling wind and rain. The street ran straight forever, skyscrapers lining each side, magnificent, and the wind and rain made me slide back and float. That was the moment I fell in love with the city and with her. One or the other. Maybe just with being young and free in the biggest place. Maybe that’s what happened to her, too.

We broke up waiting for the subway to Little Italy. I was the one who got damp in the eyes. I wasn’t going for impact, but I noticed it had no impact. She smiled, and she was so fucking beautiful, her hair blowing forward from the train rolling up behind, so loud.

At the restaurant, the Italian restaurant in Little Italy, maybe run by mobsters, she joked, I mean look at these guys, she went on, and how I had my back to the corner and could see the front door, and how that was a good move by me, a wise guy move. I smiled, wishing we had something more to say. Thought about my lack of impact.

The rain came off the awning out front like a waterfall. I opened the umbrella, she started to say something lighthearted, a smile on her face, and I grabbed her, pulled her close. Our shoes filled with rain. We held each other for what felt like hours, or maybe I held her, on the sidewalk outside a restaurant in Little Italy, in New York City, young and broken up, me about to leave and her about to stay. Again.

I feel her head on my shoulder as I type, feel the rain, hear it patter on that umbrella. What a sound. Her hair soft, skin so smooth, she smelled like… her. She fit on my shoulder. Her shape fit me.

Next day at the airport, small talk and coffee. When the boarding call came, I said goodbye but didn’t feel it. Not for years. She didn’t need to, already had.

That rain on the umbrella. The patter. Wet shoes. Not caring how long, her head on my shoulder. That hurt pretty good. I could hurt like that again. I could…

73 thoughts on “The good kind of hurt

  1. This is so manly. Ok, let me explain. I mean, if you would change the ‘her’ in the story to a ‘he’ it has to be about a gay couple. The first person can’t be anything else but a man. I tried to write from a male point of view in my last entry but now that I’ve read this, I doubt if I succeeded. That doesn’t make me sad because it’s too interesting. It’s fascinating how painfully clear a man’s feelings and thoughts become in this bit. Love it!

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    • Thank you, Ber. I totally get what you are saying. I tried to write from a female perspective once, not sure if I was successful or not, I never shared that piece with anyone. Gillian Flynn wrote a male character in Gone Girl and I remember thinking that this dude sometimes has lady thoughts. Like, you could tell he was written by a woman sometimes. Interesting comment, thanks for reading and sharing!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s not all or none though, I don’t think. I mean, men tend to be one way and women another, but there’s a matter of degree to it in some. Some are closer to one end of their spectrum and some drift towards center, or maybe even cross over. I think. Maybe. I could be wrong. Makes some sense though, to think it’s not always black or white.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting perspective, but I will agree, because we are talking about the same thing. Hey, sorry for this question here, but I always wanted to ask you, is Chekhov your favourite write?

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      • Ah, that is a question I’ve gotten a few times. I should probably change the avi at some point. No, it’s just my favorite writerly image — I mean, that’s a heck of a good look for a writer to have. Very thoughtful, wise, slightly intimidating. I love the look. And quite honestly, I didn’t think very many people would recognize it. Not sure how many people have, you are maybe the third or fourth to bring it up. My favorite is J.D. Salinger. What about you?

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      • Mine? Good question. I got a new favourite a week ago. But I don’t think you know him. His writing is unique and magical. In one word can live a whole poem, his name is A.Platonov – that’s from Chehkov’s followers and J.M Coetzee from modern literature. But Chehkov was aesthete, so as he said: ” In man everything should be beautiful: face and clothes and soul and thoughts”. May be that’s why he is so close to you?

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      • I do not know A.Platonov, but I like the unique and the magical, so I will have to investigate. I do think we should aspire to higher things. I don’t know what Chekhov meant by face, clothes, soul, and thoughts, but I would bet I’d agree with the soul and thoughts part. I would assume that a Russian of his era must have meant something much different by face and clothes than what we in the current era might interpret that to mean, so I would probably agree with him too, there. Because I’m an old soul. I don’t belong here.

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      • You know, I think lots of writers (or people who have to put their thoughts in writing) are old souls. And Chekhov’s 19-th century wasn’t much more different from our days, he meant exact what you mean by “clothes” and “face”- you have to put an effort to, as you said, aspire first of all yourself and others. There is no “halfway beauty”. Recently French guys made a movie about him (it is with English subtitles), have a look if you are interested. It is not all exactly accurate, but a good image of him. Why not?

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      • Thank you. Now I’m ashamed, nervous and excited. Like W. Allen said: “I will hate it any way. If I don’t like it – I hate those kinda stuff and questions. If I like it – I ll hate you”. This thought doesn’t leave me now.

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  2. There is something magical about beautiful and complete writing, something that pulls you in and allows you to feel long after the words have stopped. I felt the raindrops.
    Beautiful writing Walt.💜

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  3. I’m going to sound like my mom when I tell you this, because she often does this, and say OK this one is my favorite, best so far. So real and joyously told. You had fun writing it I think, it shows. People I’d like to get to know a lot better, right here. Bravo. Bill

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    • I like how you are always making me feel like I’ve reached new peaks, many thanks to you and your ma. I played some of your riffs, you know, but it wasn’t intentional. That’s what happens when I read a lot of one person. I can’t help it. You know that though, we’ve talked about this. This one was more stream-of-conscious than most, and not overly edited, like some. I tried not to kill it in the editing. Just tweaked it for structure, mostly. I like how they change places/roles. The voice of it came on it’s own, and I thought jeez this sounds like someone else I know. Glad it all came together. Safe travels wherever you are. I have a feeling that at this moment (you should be with us) you are ‘en route,’ as they say, those who travel.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I wanted to ask about the editing because I sensed you hadn’t much, it had its skin on it still. Thanks for sharing the background and the warm wishes. I’m taking my family to the airport tomorrow and the pets on Thursday (with me). And just noticed it’s snowing here now.

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      • The other thing I liked, thinking about it more, is how you captured the immediacy, or intensity in the feelings of the characters. I wish I had more of your sense of structure, but I’ve been hanging my head out the window just to feel what it’s like before reigning it back in. Perhaps you could hang your head out the window some more like this (“trust your feelings, Luke”)…or you’ve got your chocolate in my peanut butter, which sounds dirty somehow. We couldn’t get away with this in a traditional writing workshop I don’t think, so why not. You are reaching new peaks, though: helps you see more distant ones when you get higher, and reminds you it’s not as high up as you might have feared. Leave the fear in the glove compartment, in the parking lot.

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      • I’ve never been in a writing workshop, so I don’t know what’s traditional and what’s hanging your head out the window, but I like the idea of workshopping, and also hanging your head out the window. Now that I think about it, I sometimes feel like the guy with the cigarettes in his shirtsleeve who pops the hood and talks about the mods he put in that sumbitch. Shop talk for wordsy folk. I’m for it.

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      • Hahaha Yes it looks like it’s still ‘spritzing’ a bit out there, best to be safe than soaking ! Missed your posts. Hope you feel regenerated – not ‘Dr Who’ style, obviously!

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  4. Love, love, love this… Brought me back to the city, to the restaurant in Little Italy run by mobsters. I didn’t want my back to the window either, but I volunteered because I’m Italian and I reasoned they’d give me pass. Well done.

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    • I can’t sit with my back to the door in any restaurant, no matter what its cuisine, or sleep with my back to the door, for that matter. Clearly I have a thing about backs and doors, and cuisine. It’s been a really long time since I was in an Italian restaurant in Little Italy, I hear it’s kind of a shadow of it’s old self, but I mean seriously, at one time, mobsters, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is divine. No spoken words, no names, but I know these characters exactly now, and how it feels to intertwine a city (my favorite one in this case) with a person. This is expertly written, I’d like to say, but that’s not really true, it’s simply written as writing should be. This is excellent.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are too kind, Trent, but thank you muchly. Glad you feel like you know these characters, that must mean I picked the right things to say about them and left some other things out that maybe didn’t need saying, so thank you for that. I felt like I dried up for awhile with nothing to write about, or at least no desire to write about anything, so I’m glad this one went over well. Thanks, man.

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      • Your absence was noted, actually. I was thinking of popping by to bug you. But glad you’re back, and with something like this no less. This is the type of thing I’d expect to read in one of the better literary journals, not on a blog – you may be too good for this place, Walt.

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      • I’ve learned a lot by being here, and reading and interacting with other good writers, like you and Bill, just to name two in this particular comment chain. Plus, what would I do without my ‘platform?’

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  6. Pingback: The good kind of hurt | Little Bits of Heaven

  7. Don’t disparage the tourists. We need tourists. Without tourists, this is just another generic town.

    Sometimes it takes a visitor to show you how nice this town is. You let that feeling slip away and then it gets reeled back in. That was pretty good, pal. Made me late for work but totally worth it.

    Waitaminute…was that autobiographical or made up?

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    • Thank you, good sir. Hate to make you late for work, though now I’m thinking If only I could make everyone late for work, what power I’d have. If I could impact commerce, that would really advance my cause. I’d need to have a cause though. Or maybe just a dollar amount in mind. Anyhoo, this is a true story, which is why I posted it under ‘musings.’ The made up stuff goes to the ‘fiction’ category and is tagged that way. Hadn’t been to NYC before her and haven’t been back since, would love to go back, it’s an awesome place. I know lots of New Yorkers are born and raised there, but I felt like everyone I met had come from somewhere else. I also have a theory that every woman will at some point in her 20s want to move to one of two places, NY or California. But that’s another story.

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      • It’s true that there are a lot of native New Yorkers, but there are many more immigrants. New York is a highly transient city. I, myself, immigrated from Ohio. There are three categories of immigrants: people who hate it from the start, people who last about five years and then give up, and a small minority who settle for life. People who reject New York initially or eventually I call “normal.” The long-haul requires some psychological damage, which, I’m happy to report, I have an abundance.

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  8. You know what…i’ve never been to the big city but I felt like it I was there. I felt their presence you see, the emotions surrounding it. I totally related with this particular read and it was so surreal. I really enjoyed it. Always a pleasure.

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    • It was surreal writing it, just kind of came out. Glad you enjoyed it. You should visit NYC sometime. Lots of fun, very vibrant. Don’t worry about stepping out of line quickly, no one really cares. But everything costs twice as much.

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