The Day I Became a New Yorker

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This blog has had many versions in my head today. I do that you know; throughout the day I’ll sometimes think, “That’s what the blog will be about tonight.” This one reflects the day it records. (Ugh, I don’t want the blog to become a diary!)

This blog has had many incarnations in my head today. But this is the one that it ended up being.

One version was the version that started out by saying, “No one in my family is to read this and no one is allowed to speak to my family about it. The suicide countdown clock has been restarted.”

There was one that had, “Well, it looks like I have no choice but to move back to Alabama.”

There were a few other versions along the way. Today, like everyday in New York held moments sublime. There were also some very low lows.

I actually sent someone a text today that said, “You are going to pay for what you did to me.” Minutes later I had to send an amends text.

I went and hung out with other people in recovery tonight. That helped banish any residual residue of the fleeting idea of jumping in front of the subway today.

I just really want all the apartment hunting bullshit to be over. I want to be living in my new fucking apartment and have my next gig and have my animals and my clothes and books and furniture up here from Alabama and then I want to not go to Alabama for a few years and I just want to be in my New York apartment with the door locked, sitting down writing my next play. With three of them up and running on and off-Broadway. Is that so much to ask?

And Spock is dead. And I’m not feeling so good myself.

Tomorrow I’ll go to Staten Island to stay with a friend until Tuesday or whenever I do find my apartment, whichever comes first. If Tuesday comes first I’ll have to find another friend to stay with. Jesus! I’m homeless! That’s what twenty years of– wait, that’s not fair. There are people who really don’t have a place to go tonight and that’s not me and that’s not fair for me to say.

I’m tired. Bloody-eyed tired. Muscle and bone tired. It’s been a long day. It’s been a long two and a half years. But let’s try to stay positive shall we?

This will actually go down as the day that I absolutely refused to give up and leave New York, the day that I said that I would rather sleep in the streets than live anywhere else. The apartment broker (Mia, she’s become a friend of mine by now) has been helping me look. Because I have shit credit and little money and no real way to prove what I’m capable of earning, and because I have two dogs and a cat and because I’m having to get a veterans’ organization to say they’ll vouch for me on the rent– well, let’s just say it’s not the best scenario for trying to find a place to live in New York. At one point late this afternoon, standing in the apartment that I really want to move into and realizing that apparently the (Jewish) company that manages the property considers sundown on Friday to be about three in the fucking afternoon and that since I have to be out of the place where I’m staying by noon tomorrow– I just looked at Mia and choked back the tears. “My plane ticket back to Alabama is on Tuesday. I’m supposed to be going there to get my pets and my things and bring them to my apartment in New York–only I don’t yet have an apartment in New York!” I said, “I guess I’ll just go back to Alabama. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and apparently God or the Universe or whateverthefuck wants me stuck down there so I’ll just go back to the “Heart of Dixie” and die there.”

That’s when I sent the evil text.

Mia’s so sweet. She assured me she’d keep looking and I told her don’t bother. If anybody needed me I’d be down in the land of sweet tea and bible-thumping fag-haters. I’m sure she could literally see the black cloud surrounding me. We rode a couple stops together on the subway before she got off. She kissed me and told me she loved me. Angel.

After that, there was a blackout. I don’t know how I got there but I found myself in Times Square. Moments (or hours) earlier I had resigned myself to returning to Alabama and just looking for a regular job. I was willing to finally give up on my dream like my father encouraged me to do. But then I looked around me, surrounded by mountains of colored light and people from every corner of the earth, I could smell the roasted nuts and Falafel stands. From a hundred-foot lighted billboard, Elphaba looked down at me with a wry and knowing smile. Then I heard myself say out loud, “Fuck no, I’m not leaving. No matter what. No matter what it takes. This is my home. I am part of this city and this city is part of me. I will do this or die trying.” I texted Mia. “I’m not giving up. Let’s keep looking.”

I spotted a hot dog stand across the street. My stomach growled. I walk over to it and the man inside said in a sexy Middle Eastern accent, “What will you have my friend?” He was one of the best looking men I have ever seen in my life and I have seen a lot of sexy men in my life (many of them up close). This one had shiny black hair, black eyes that sparkled like polished onyx, a body like a statue of a Pharaoh, and a smile that made the lights of Times Square look dim. “Hotdog,” I told him. He grabbed a large wiener from the vat, sliced it open lengthwise and put it on the grill. “Hey! Has anybody ever sung the hotdog man song to you?” I asked him. “I don’t think so. How does it go?” While he prepared my hotdog with all the deftness of a five star chef de cuisine, I sang him the song. I sang it loud. I sang it with all my heart.

“I know a weenie man, he owns a weenie stand!

He sells most everything from hot dogs on down!

One day I’ll change his life, I’ll be his weenie wife!

HOT DOG! I love that weenie man!!”

 

The weenie man loved my song. He was smiling from ear to ear. “Where you from?” I asked him. “Egypt.” he replied as he handed me my dinner. “Shukran!” I said. (Arabic for “thank you”)”Where you from?” he asked. His simple question elicited from my heart what felt like a pledge of allegiance: “Well, I grew up in Alabama. But this is my home now.” I said goodnight to the weenie man with a wink and walked away with more pep in my step. Then I took a bite of what was probably the best hot dog I’ve ever tasted.

This is the day I become a New Yorker.

See y’all tomorrow.


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