Part 1: THE FLOOD
I looked out the picture window again, fondling the lip of my mug. Small puffs of steam were rolling off the cooling road beneath the rain, making the entire event looking somewhat post-cataclysmic. By now, most of the people had found sanctuary in their cars, after having shaken their shoes to remove any excess water before closing the car door. What caught my attention, though, was the one figure across the street who had managed to remain completely still in the downpour. He had no umbrella, no protective covering, just stood perfectly still. He was drenched, like the others. His hair was matted down and stuck to his forehead and face, his hands were hidden within his pants pockets. And he just stood.
I squinted, trying to see the face of this imbecile on the other side of the street. At first he only appeared somewhat familiar, a lingering, nameless face. As I watched more closely, I realized that this was no nameless character at all.
The take-off is the worst.
There’s this extended moment between the instant the wheels abandon the runway and the second the vehicle reaches full altitude where I’m always positive the cabin will depressurize, my eyes will explode, and a wall will collapse, ripping out limbs and organs in the slowest, bloodiest way possible. My roommate had spent the entire preceding week listening to me panic. Tired of pretending to care, she suggested that I get completely sloshed before boarding for my 7:30 flight to LaGuardia. At least then, she reasoned, I’d be too drunk to care if I died mid-flight.
In the darkness and humidity and smoke the silhouette began to play the most fascinatingly beautiful tune that seemed to ameliorate the unbearable conditions in the room. The artistic banter that had once filled the cramped space had disappeared and now only the piano could be heard. No one moved. No one coughed. No one whispered. We were entirely enraptured. His voice seductively wrapped around the notes as they danced from his mouth into our ears, even the high notes so carefully and delicately exuded from his body.
Grumbling, I shoved open the glass souvenir door into living beast that was New York pedestrian traffic. Conditioned to the insanity that was Manhattan walkways, Taylor grabbed my wrist, dragging me through swarms of business suits, Mohawks, and tourists, all of whom seemed to know exactly where they were going. As I was being carelessly knocked around by the indigenous crowd, Taylor kept mumbling useless information about buildings and streets, none of which I understood. Suddenly he stopped abruptly and I was thrown into his back by a passer-by. I supposed we were at our first stop.
I was twenty the summer that I met Taylor; he was twenty three. Although we were both past our childhood, being with him brought back the youth I never before appreciated. Being with Taylor was like being ten years old and dreaming of being grown up, if that makes sense. It seemed there were always going to be lush backyards, tree houses, grass stains, scabbed knees, rope swings, nylon hammocks, and splinters. There was this ceaseless comfort that this solace was infinite. He was the freedom of childhood I had needed for so long.
Together we lay on that sidewalk beneath a flickering streetlight staring at the absence of stars in lieu of solving the pressing issue of my neglected ex. We had never mastered the art of conversation, and finding my shoe seemed like a shoddyy excuse to start practicing.
He reached over and entwined his fingers with mine. “My favorite color is red.”
I stood outside of the doorway a while longer, watching him disappear in the darkness that was his unlit living room. He let his fingers dance across the cluttered cabinet before stopping himself to face me.
“Do you make a habit of it?”
“Of what, Taylor?”
“Leaving on a whim like that.”
Part 2: THE AWAKENING
My living arrangement too is nothing short of loathsome. When I foolishly made the decision to continue living in New York after a crushing defeat in the love department, I neglected to accept the fact that finding an actual apartment was more difficult than I could have ever imagined. Aside from the fact that the only two people I knew in the New York area were a vertically challenged Asian and a hormonal, philandering piano tutor, I was already 0 for 2 before I even went searching for a place to live.
The one thing I hate the most about New York is that one can never actually enter a building without someone else’s permission. My brilliant plan was to actually sneak up to his door and knock on it in a fit of fiery, sentimental passion; but instead I was reduced to button-pushing and standing in October wind hoping my faux perk wouldn’t attract too many young bachelors whose names weren’t Taylor.
Perched on the steps, I could see early morning joggers and coffee drinkers lining the coastline of the bay between Brooklyn and Manhattan. I lit the first cigarette and savored its first poisonous gases in eight years. Immediately, my muscles relaxed and I leaned back on the stone stairs. In the smog of carbon monoxide, I cleared my head completely.
Maybe I should just let it all go.
He returned with a stupid smile on his face and two glasses of thematic black punch. “So how do you know Molly?” I suppose he had an amazing story on how he knew her.
“Misfortune,” I drank the bitter liquid and reminded myself it was better than talking to Drew.
“I think she’s pretty nice.”
“Sure you do.”
“I just wanted to let you know that these past five years I have been nothing but miserable working under you. Good luck writing that shit by yourself.” I reached over and took his pack of cigarettes. “You won’t need them.”
My sudden burst of over-confidence quickly disappeared the minute I began descending the fifteen flights of stairs to the sidewalk with my new plastic pet turkey. That fucking bra was such bad luck.
Resolving that sprawling on the bed would accomplish nothing, I returned to my laptop and gazed at the screen. Deleting the line about needing to work at The Enquirer to better enrich my creative abilities, I filled its space with, “Previous job experiences- Professional Bull-Shitter, Official Worst Lay of New York Area, Pathetic Mistress Extraordinaire.”
Well that wouldn’t work; “extraordinaire” was far too arrogant.
“But maybe I didn’t need a ubiquitous revelation.” He kept his eyes forward, watching the horizon. “I waited for you to come back, but you never did.” Turning to me, I remembered that he always had this way of generating a gravitational pull by simply looking at someone. “I always wanted you to come back.”
I protested, but he was stronger than I was and began pushing me along the floor, humming some unidentifiable tune and dipping me at awkward angles. He loved the attention and the fact that the obese geriatric women in the corner were clapping at him and giggling with sheer pleasure. “Jesus, you and your ego,” I had to laugh.
Frustrated yet not surprised when I returned with insufficient rations, he only pulled me into bed, stripped me of the tattered blue shirt, and surrendered his efforts to domesticate me. We spent the remainder of the day tangled in musty sheets and body parts, talking about my inadequacies and his overachievements.
He didn’t stop pacing, merely paused to grab three eggs from the refrigerator in the useless effort to make an early morning omelet. In his frenzy, he dropped three frying pans on the floor and in the midst of the clutter he ran into the bathroom and shut the door.
Wrapping his arm around my shoulders, he steered me down the forty block hike to his apartment. Through the stumbling, I kept repeating the confrontation backstage. Within my drunken haze, I recognized something uncomfortably awkward about Taylor’s reaction and Molly’s persistence, but refused to question it.
I had an easy roommate and an edgy lover. That was all.
1) Wasted And Ready : Ben Kweller
2) Crazy Beautiful (UAL) : Hanson
3) I've Got To See You Again : Norah Jones
4) All I Wanna Do : Sheryl Crow
5) Killing Me Softly : The Fugees
6) Sylvia Plath : Ryan Adams
7) Wildflowers : Ryan Adams
8) New York, New York : Ryan Adams
9) Song For The Dumped : Ben Folds
10) Do What You Have To : Sarah McLachlin
11) Promiscuous Girl : Nelly Furtado
12) City Love : John Mayer
13) In Other Words : Ben Kweller
14) The Only One : Maria Mena
15) Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard : Ryan Adams