She Goes to Gotham City...

Gotham City is gothic. WE’RE HALF AWAKE IN A FAKE EMPIRE. 

Gotham City is alive in the dark. WE’RE HALF AWAKE IN A FAKE EMPIRE. 

Gotham City has water under it. WE’RE HALF AWAKE IN A FAKE EMPIRE. 

Gotham City can’t burn, but my heart can, and so it did.

My loves have moved to New York. My family is from New York: we speak fast, we talk loud, we curse hard, we laugh exuberantly and we love without permission. I’ve never lived in New York. New York is somehow always home. 

Before the trip, my sister had read for me and deemed them marriage cards.

The lobby is cast in half light and echoes low tones, it’s a scene from a Wes Anderson rendition of film noir. I lost my ring at the oyster bar, eating oysters with my loves who live in New York. I’m going to dinner. It’s not really dinner. It’s nice to meet everyone. The weekend is for ideas unto understanding unto action. Fitness means many things. His father had suffered a stroke and still won’t get to the gym. When my own father had suffered a heart attack, I kicked his ass into gear. Cantankerous, but compliant; old Italian men giving us grief. They’re probably the same age. He has his mother’s eyes. 

Other meandering conversations, with others: “So, do you work out?” “Yeah.” “Do you not talk about that?” “I do, I just don’t think the topic has ever been broached in that manner before.” “Well, nice talking to you.”

I’m sitting atop the wooden credenza in the middle of the room, next to the aquarium case with the taxidermy honey badgers, with one of my loves who had moved to New York. We’re having midnight herbal tea. We’re having a kind of love, in low tones.  

In the morning: the mist, and the cacophony. Two of the four of us are colocated, the other two are not; fifty percent in one time zone, the other fifty percent in the other. We get up in arms. We fight like lions. We sip more coffee. I stare into the void, I find the words and write them down. We agree! I get roped into a metcon of 4 minutes of thrusters, and later, a piano karaoke bar. I sip Henny. Jared Harris sings Meatloaf from TRHPS. I sing Fleetwood Mac; Jared Harris approves. The Activity Roper gushes over me. I’m in a kind of love: with the beauty of being, in time; with the melancholy gothic of the watery lights upon the city on the first of December, and, with him. He ropes them into another activity, at an After-Hours Elsewhere. I walk three blocks in the wrong direction on my way home, and pass a stand selling Xmas trees on the street in midtown Manhattan, at 2 AM. A bearded, chubby twenty-something sits in the booth, sheltered from the strengthening drizzle; the harsh staccato of death metal emanates from within it. The whole of this scene catches me in my corrected path, and I stop in my tracks to turn to look at him, giggling perceptibly. He looks at me, he waves inquisitively. I say, “This scene is amazingly absurd and nonsensical, and a perfect cross-section of New York.” He says, “It’s awesome, right?” I give him a high five, and Laugh Out Loud. 

I lay on the couch in the lobby, under the half light and the low tones, and call my sister. Perhaps they were not marriage cards.

In the morning, I want to sit outside on the bench stashed in the foreground between the store fronts, covered in potted plants and a dying cinderella pumpkin; I wait for a break in the clouds. The bench is occupied and so I perch on the sill outside the hotel cafe, instead. Later, we venture out to Brooklyn, to have Sunday Family Dinner with my loves who live in New York. Off the late train ride, we remark about the character of cities and the emotions they evoke. He’s thoughtful and I love that about him. He says I talk like passages in English literature. We order it all, we eat it all, my friends are hungry like me. I kiss them all goodbye, three times, my little family in Brooklyn. Some of my loves I missed, this trip. 

To love is to find yourself in conflict. To love is to trespass, unknowingly. To love is to fight to understand. To love is both to dedicate to, and to keep time on… 

In the morning, the sunlight was muted by New York. I awoke too late for the meeting I had called, and joined it from between the sheets and under the left-most pillow. I should like to live in that window frame, but only sometimes. A quad shot latte to sip on, under my scarf and behind my sunglasses, atop the windowsill, outside. I should like to live on that windowsill, but only sometimes. The stream of meetings were temporarily dammed, and my Baby Bee lost her bicycle chain 3 times on her way to Manhattan. We have catch up, but not lunch. I pay for a late checkout, and go upstairs to prepare myself to exit what feels like a year of Three Days. I live here, right here, in this room. Don’t I? The stack of records under the record player boasts The National’s Boxer. I’m upset that I didn’t find it until I was leaving. 

The city is cast in light, not lightness. I train at open gym time in what’s essentially a crossfit sports club, and still it’s another kind of home. The character of this city is evocative of every sense, and every emotion, simultaneously: roasted cashews and caramelized sugar, cirrus clouds scraping the skyscrapers, and a constant and cornered juxtaposition of old and new; the dialects of the boroughs, the languages of everywhere else. New York is a city with loneliness like the rest of the cities; New Yorkers live, despite it. They flirt — with familiars, with strangers, with babies on trains. New York is alive, in the dark. 

“Grace, don’t let them die on the vine, it’s a waste.”

Everything happened. Nothing happened. And then, I went home. 

Clementina Russo5 Comments