Sunday, July 23, 2006

One month later...

Things in New York really don't change that much. I work, I eat, I watch Arrested Development, and I sleep. That's life.

There have been a few things of note in the last few weeks, however. Lately, I spend my free time (much of which is while J slaves away in the food industry down at SATC-infamous City Bakery on 18th St.) looking for a place to stay this fall.

I feel a tinge of regret about decided NYC was the place to be for fall quarter. J will be leaving me here alone come September, and I might be living by myself or with some 37-year-old guy with cheese for teeth. After the mild pang of what might be an infant-ulcer passes, I remember that the reason I chose to live in NYC for fall was one of independence. Let's face it. You start dating your best friend, live with him for all the time you're dating, hang out with and depend upon your friends, and know that your family is always there for you, and you start to wonder if you still have the muscles in your legs to stand alone. I think this fall will be a good experience for me. Maybe a quiet one at times, or lonely, but a good experience in the end.

New York seems to be a place where chance falls in your lap, or hits you with force in the head. I'll elaborate.

J's cousin, Nick--a 47-year-old investment banker with a wife and two teenage sons--took us out for dinner at one of New York's swankiest after-work restaurants. I ate until I hurt (I considered purging in the corner of the subway station while waiting to go home that night). He, upon noting that J and I are normal, responsible 21-year-olds, offered to take us on his yacht for the weekend to Nantucket. Unfortunately, a mild tropical storm befell Nantucket (and New York) and that will have to wait a weekend.

Julie, J's sister, invited us to the This American Life NYC office-warming party. At said party, we made the acquaintances of everyone from NPR's Iraq War correspondent, A (really, really nice), to B-the director of Capote who I was too in awe of to actually talk to. We also exchanged numbers with R, a condescending 20-something who recently released a book about his time spent in Baghdad. We promised to call one another before his book release party at a swanky club downtown. However, when the gin-and-tonic haze lifted the next morning, we thought better of our promises to R, and he must have done the same, for none of us called one another.

Last weekend, J and I took the advice of two Columbia professors we met at the NPR party and went to a swanky Harlem restaurant, Native. The thing about Harlem is that it's definitely stuck to sterotypes--old men on stoops, kids riding bikes up and down the sidewalks, fried chicken and people yelling "my nigga" all over--but it also is slowly becoming gentrified. This restaurant, tucked between a new bank branch and luxury condos, was also surrounded by rundown apartments and shut-down businesses.

Native's food was delicious, the wine even better, but in the midst of being served our entrées--three gunshots rang out down the block. People in the street screamed and ducked down, and our waiter quickly put down our meals and scuttled away.

It's a strange dichotomy here--people give you dirty looks because you're white or look slightly successful. (Hell, I don't even have a job, man.) But, once you've been in the neighborhood for a while, they adjust to you and say good morning rather than how they greeted you the first week ("You don't belong here, do you?").

Perhaps the biggest moment of chance falling in laps and bitch-slapping heads has been a trick of coincidence. J's ex-girlfriend, L, who I have met and like and who attends Fordham University during the schoolyear, emailed him a week ago. She had not emailed J in over six months, and last J knew, she was going to the south of France for the summer to live on a farm and work. Instead, she explained in her email, she was in the city. After a few more exchanged emails we realized that she not only still is living in the city, but she is living across the street from us. Literally. Here, see for yourself:

And now L is living with her new boyfriend/ex-professor, V. I'm something of a nervous wreck every time I go anywhere in our neighborhood now. I wear my sunglasses more often and am constantly looking twice at people around me. At the laundry mat, Is that one 30-something white guy V? At the grocery store, Is that blond ahead of me in line L? I better switch to another line...

Whether or not J and L meet up to have one of those once-we-dated lunches or something else is yet to be seen.

Oh, and in news to come, J and I may attend a Long Island beach party in honor of the birthdays of two gentlemen who are being filmed for an MTV reality series about rich, do-nothings and their travails. Look for us in the series premiere?

That's all from New York. Oh, except that I miss Chicago and desperately miss Ohio even more... or maybe visa versa. :)