We wasted another half hour like that, laying in complete silence. Come to think of it, I was slightly offed that I'd been sleeping with this guy for a month and didn't learn his favorite color until that night. Shot for cash, we decided to walk the forty block hike back to his apartment in Tribeca. For the first time wince we'd met, we didn't' touch, let alone look at one another. It wasn't until we reached his door that we spoke again. He lingered in the doorway, having placed the key in the lock without turning it. Clutching onto the handle he turned his face toward me, "Is it okay if I have one of my lessons here tomorrow?" I was slightly disappointed that he didn't have something more profound to say, "Sure," I half smiled, "I was planning on shopping tomorrow anyway." This was a blatant lie and he knew it, but there was no point in bringing it up. I wasn't sure if I should sleep in his bed that night; suddenly he was a complete stranger. Considering, though, that the only other option was his broken leather couch, infamous for gluing itself to skin on these humid nights, I opted for the bed. Somewhat estranged from him, I made cozy on the far edge of the mattress. "Kate, what are you doing?" he giggled, noting how obviously uncomfortable I looked. Embarrassed, I kicked off the sheet and groaned, "I don't know." That phrase seemed to be popping up a lot lately.
"What's up?" he smoothed the sheet back over me.
"I'm not sure," my back was still turned to him.
"It'll get better when your classes at NYU start; you'll have a little more structure," he thought for a moment, absently strumming his fingers on the mattress in the pattern of his latest song. "When do those classes start again?"
"Well, hm, that's just it." Funny thing, really. "I never applied."
"You never what?"
"Kate, what the hell were you planning on doing?"
"I don't know!" I gathered my pillow and hopped out of bed. I could suffer the sofa for one night.
He remained in bed yelling, "That running away to solve a problem thing is not going to work forever, Kate!"
"I'm aware!" I just wanted to sleep.
The next morning when I finally peeled my body off the couch I realized it was only seven. My fitful and sleepless night had left me feeling like shit, and I was in no mood to gussy up to shop. Seeing last night's ensemble stuffed in the corner, I threw it on and left the apartment. Maybe a day away would give me time to figure out what was going on.
One of the many perks of living in New York was the boundless window-shopping opportunities. For those of us too impoverished to actually purchase $200 jeans, window shopping was the greatest thing to happen to us. Within two hours I went from Tribeca to Fifth Avenue, was completely exhausted, and still just as confused. What was I trying to escape? Frantically I paced around the block, muttering and pushing into commuters. Without a doubt, I warranted strange looks but I figured since I was in New York I may as well *act* as a New Yorker. When the answer finally struck me, I took off back down Fifth for Tribeca.
Honestly, I hadn't run since I was in gym class five years before, but I had to get to Taylor and explain everything. I managed to run the entire stretch back to his place, but collapsed in the elevator on the way to the seventh floor. Panting, I rammed into the door he never locked when he was inside and toppled onto the pile of clothes I had shed earlier that morning.
"I'm escaping fear!" I proclaimed, swimming in the dirty clothes. "I'm afraid of the future, I'm afraid of the unknown and that's why I left Chicago!"
Taylor still hadn't emerged from hiding, so I pulled myself up by the couch and stumbled into each room searching for him.
"I mean, I know that running away to somewhere even more unknown and uncertain makes absolutely no sense but maybe I just needed to change everything about my life so I could remove the confusion!" God, this was a rare epiphany, where the hell was he?
I staggered to the door of his piano room, still catching my breath. "Everything about my life is-" I stopped myself when I noticed the thirty-something piano student's breasts all over Taylor. "Hi." I directed toward her.
"Oh!" she blushed. "We're almost done."
"I see." I turned on my heels and ran to the bedroom to fetch my suitcase. Without thinking, I stuffed whatever clothes I touched into the bag, including the pack of cigarettes sitting on his dresser.
He ran in after me, "Kate, stop."
"Impractical. Everything about my life is impractical: my major, my existence, my ex, my living in New York, you. None of it makes sense."
He pulled me to my feet, "She just leaned over and attacked me, I swear."
"God, I should've known."
"Stop, Kate, just calm down."
"I'm leaving. I can't stay here right now."
"Taylor, should I come back later?" the elusive woman danced in front of the door, grinning.
He closed the door in her face, leaned against it and looked at me. "That woman is seriously bothering me," he laughed.
Unimpressed, I folded my arms over my chest and glared at him.
He relocated to the small chair in the corner. "You can't leave; where are you going to go?" He didn't let me answer. "What are you going to do, Kate-"
"I wish you wouldn't say my name like that."
"What did you plan on doing about school?"
"God damn it, I don't know! I'm aimless, apparently."
"Aimless and running."
"Why is this suddenly your problem?"
"I just want to help you figure this out."
"Why does it matter? Is it pulling you down? Afraid that it'll hurt you precious reputation as a philandering piano teacher and underpaid jazz club musician?"
"At least I have a real job."
"Jesus, why are you even with me, Taylor?"
"I'm sorry, you're questioning that now?" He was so goddamned cocky.
"You don't love me; do you just keep me around to fuck?"
"What?" his eyebrows made a straight line across his forehead in shock. Infuriated, he started yelling, enunciating every consonant. "You're the shittiest fuck I've ever had, and believe me I've had tons; you just happened to be the easiest one of them all. Sorry Kate, I don't keep you around for the fucking; I keep you around because every good musician needs some arm candy. And someone to split the bills."
I took a step back from him as all those nightmares my mother had about me and men were finally coming true. "You fucking son of a bitch," I almost whispered it, shaking my head. "You are such a goddamned piece of untalented shit!" I lost all rationale, and with enraged passion I started grabbing things from his dresser and flinging them in his direction. "You and your fucking ego." I started crying in the midst of my tantrum, "God, I hate you!"
"That's remarkable; I've never heard you talk about someone besides yourself so much since I've known you."
Ferociously, I pitched his alarm clock at his face and screamed.
"YOU'VE RUINED EVERYTHING!" I was starting to run out of steam and suddenly wished I hadn't sprinted for seventy blocks to get to him.
He stepped aside to dodge the clock. "Well that was melodramatic. You think you're the only one with problems, Kate? You think you're the only one who doesn't know what she's doing with her life? Wake up, sweetheart, none of us do, but we cope."
There was nothing left to say, so I slid down the opposite corner of his room to the floor and hid my face as I cried. He was uncomfortably right.
Picking up the misplaced alarm clock, he approached me. "I didn't mean any of it, Kate," Was this remorse, you asshole?
I couldn't talk to him; I had to just leave. Still blinded by puffy eyes and tears, I shoved him out of the way and onto the floor, grabbed my unzipped, partially empty bag and ran out the door. As it shut behind me, I could hear him calling my name.
In my fury, I had run halfway down the block before realizing what I'd actually done. Clutching my still unzipped bag, I looked up at the immense building I'd considered home for five weeks. God damn my rash decisions.
I began slowly walking down the empty sidewalk, wondering why no one was running after me. Briefly, I stopped to turn around and screech "Fuck!" in his general direction before returning to my stride. Rendered hopeless, I did the only thing I could; smoke his entire box of cigarettes and wallow in self pity.
Luckily for me, after only six hours and ten cigarettes, I stumbled a job as a sales clerk at a souvenir shop in Brooklyn. Evidently, Brooklyn is not only much less appealing that Manhattan, it's also much less expensive. My boss was a little man who spoke only Cantonese and broken English. If I'd understood correctly from his gibberish, there was a one room apartment that needed an inhabitant. He'd let me stay there as long as I agreed to let him take the rent out of my paycheck.
That first night when I saw the apartment was horrifying. The walls were a filthy shade of moss green and the floors were damp concrete. Shoved in the corner was a three legged table beside a brown mini-fridge. I threw my bag into the white and brown tub that sat in between the door and the table and collapsed onto the bed, which, to my dissatisfaction, sunk immediately to the floor. Oh my God, what had I done?
Lonely, I wandered back down to the souvenir shop where I found my quirky manager. Within half an hour we got sufficiently drunk of five dollar chardonnay. Fantastic as it may have been not understanding any of his slurred gibberish, I was still miserable. When I managed to stand up on the counter, wine glass in hand and Statue of Liberty crown on head, I proclaimed to all who could understand that I was officially the laziest fuck in town. It was at that exact moment that I collapsed onto the gray speckled carpet and realized how truly dire my situation was. Not only was I aimless, single, and a lousy lay, I was utterly pathetic.