Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
After packing my clothes to leave the city for good I climbed the two flights of stairs to the rooftop of our six-story apartment building. It was gray out and just starting to drizzle. Small puddles began to form on the roof. The day looked how I felt, desolate and gray. The skyline of New York left me feeling empty like it always did.
I turned away, sadness flooding me and descended the drab mustard colored stairwell to the street.
I was going to miss her.
I walked out onto Havemeyer, then down to Metropolitan, past the brown, tan and red brick graffitied buildings with iron staircase facades cascading from the rooftops. The rain came down a little harder out of the menacing sky as pale urban hippie chicks somberly drifted past the soaking trash that lay strewn about on the ground.
I sat in the window of the bagel shop on Bedford Ave reading an underground New York paper as locals walked through the falling rain trying to look like avant garde foreigners, as foreigners passed by trying to like unimpressed locals, as tourists walked by looking lost, and out of towners walked by trying to look like sophisticated locals who were trying to look like unpretentious out of towners. No one seeming happy with themselves, except for the born and bred Brooklynites who filled in the backdrop and provided the authenticity that everyone was else was searching for, rain misting the human confusion.
As I stared out the large windows at the drizzling gray I thought about what someone had said to me the night before at work - You're like a carton of sour milk. You look good from the outside but inside you're sick. My head was filled with the familiar dark ache. A black nausea rested in the pit of my stomach. Tension gripped my shoulders and neck as a dull anxiety pulsed throughout my body. I felt like always felt of late, like I was unraveling, like the thing that was holding it all together, me, had become a shadow lost.
I started reading an article centered on New York culture. It disgusted me as it reminded me of my writing when I first moved to town - overly cute and pandering to the illusory grandeur of a city that was a false cliche perpetuated by obnoxious wannabes.
I put the paper down, finished my bagel and juice, then left, wandered down Bedford Ave aimlessly, deflecting the petrified stares of others as the light rain wet my hair and shirt, thoughts disappearing into the fog of my mind and the hurt.
I ducked through Spoonbill and Sugartown bookstore to get out of the rain, darted through the people and into the hallway between stores lined with tables and chairs where a photo booth sat.
I wanted to see if the pain that I felt on the inside was reflected in my image.
It was undeniable.
I got a cup of coffee from the Verb coffee shop.
I had trouble finding my voice at the counter then walked dejectedly home through rain that slicked the streets wondering to myself if it was best that I was returning to Austin, or if I was just running from myself again, if my depression had nothing to do with my environment, if I were simply the problem. I couldn't remember being this depressed in Austin for a long time, but it had happened. I thought about staying in Brooklyn but couldn't picture where, or how I'd live in the city and try to stay sober. I pictured myself sitting in dark bars drinking alone. I pictured walking in to an AA meeting in Austin and seeing an old friend who always made me laugh. I pictured him looking up and seeing my worn and spit out of New York visage, laughing hysterically.
I left the coffee shop and laughed to myself out loud as I walked in the showering rain, rubbing my beard thinking to myself that I must look crazy.
And I smiled as the wetness trickled down my face, stopping in the corner store on Metropolitan where I owed the Arab guy behind the counter 50 cents from the night before.
He smiled when I went in.
I grabbed what I needed, joking with him as I pulled my money out, reminding me of the scene at the end of BUFFALO 66 when he's buying the heart shaped cookie for his new girlfriend, talking with the guy behind the counter, smiling. Only I wasn't buying a cookie, I was buying roach spray, and I wasn't falling in love, I was falling out of love.
And I stepped back out into the rain...