I always have this feeling like I’m hurtling through space and time whenever I spend a night in New York City. I am an asteroid, barreling towards Brooklyn, and as the night progresses, pieces of me burn up into the atmosphere. A ring I took off and forgot on the bathroom sink, or my inhibitions as I leave one bar to find my way into the next.
I left work Friday night at 5:30 heading uptown to see our friend perform in an adaptation of King Lear that borrows text from Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas, for starters. The show was at 7:00 and I was 40 minutes away so I grabbed a slice at Pranzo, a serviceable pizza/pasta shop across from my office. I ate it quickly and headed to the subway.
When I got out, I was two blocks away from the theater in Hell’s Kitchen. I got a call from our friend’s boyfriend, who told me everyone was meeting at a bar around the corner. I got there at 6:40, was handed a cider, drank half, and gave the other half to Jeff. We left at 6:50. The show was three hours with two intermissions. I couldn’t follow the whole plot but it was a lot of fun to watch and our friend had a great performance. She got to gouge a woman’s eyes out while yelling, “Out vile jelly!”
We left the show at 10:00 and met up with our other friends who were in town for the night to see a different show. We tried to find a bar nearby but, as has been the case since I moved here, there is nothing in Hell’s Kitchen that is for our age, our budget, our music volume (which is to say: our age), for me. Everything there offends me. Everything is deceptive.
We went into a wine bar. It was blasting House of Pain. We went into the attached bar of an Israeli dance club I thought was a Mexican restaurant I had been to before. The Blue Moon on tap was $10. The bartender had a bleached blonde ponytail and large gold hoops in his ears and claimed he didn’t know the name of the bar he was tending at. A friend went to the men’s bathroom and reported back to us: There was brawling and people were doing coke. Most confusing of all, “I Will Always Love You” was playing loudly, aggressively throughout the bar. It was 11:30.
We went to a restaurant and finally we found our footing. We ordered rounds of steak fries and a few bottles of wine. Also lobster mac and cheese. I was still hungry. We could hear and see each other and laugh about the bizarro world we just emerged from.
At around 12:30 we said our goodbyes. I reached into my bag to check my phone and I saw I had a voicemail from my dad. I am reactive and fearful of voicemails left by my parents, so I listened. My dad was saying my uncle had died. Friends must have seen my face because they asked what was the matter. I told them and they were sympathetic. I did not want to be there but the night wasn’t over. We still had an hour’s commute ahead of us on multiple subways. I did not let myself process the news until I was safe at home.
The subway was under construction. When we got down to the platform it was subtropical, steaming hot but hazy because a fine layer of dust had settled in the air from the construction happening on the tracks. Our train was approaching and the workers remained on the tracks. Impressively, unbelievably, they pressed their bodies into the notches in the wall in order to let the train board and pass through. We were going towards Queens but that was the wrong way, we discovered. So we got off and took another train to downtown Brooklyn. It was after 1 AM when we got out of the train station in Brooklyn. We made the call to suck it up and get a cab for the rest of the ride home. We arrived home close to 1:30. I woke up the next morning at 9 AM for my therapy appointment.