I was walking home from the Meat Packing district to my home on the upper west side last night. I walk a lot. Miles and miles every single day. So much that my legs hurt when I finally get inside my fifth floor walk-up. It’s a time for me to clear my head, to really think and have a rare moment to myself and my many mixed emotions and feelings.
I decided to walk along Columbus Avenue so that I could easily get to the Whole Foods on 98th to pick up a bottle of wine to be my companion down the cerebrally intensive road of a How I Met Your Mother marathon. The air was cold last night. There was a chill in the air that was unseasonably harsh, biting at my green combat coat and riding boots. I tucked my hands into my pockets and walked into the wind.
I suddenly found myself walking by the sushi place that was near our old apartment on 75th street, the one PW constantly told us was complete shit. I never even ate there. It was just a landmark conveying that I was almost there. A wave of nostalgia came over me. I could smell the familiar scent of soy sauce and waves of memories washed over me, emotion welling in the depths of my belly. I couldn’t help but really look around this block that was once so frequently visited—that I knew like the back of my hand. It felt like there were ghosts there, haunting the bodegas and Italian restaurants, shadowy memories all around me containing a past life.
I met Grey out at a bar, last summer, while living in that apartment. That summer was unforgivably hot and PW, Dandelion and I frequented clubs just to avoid the heat—and to drink the free booze. The air was thick and heavy and the electricity bills were astronomical. I spent lazy afternoons on the uncomfortable futon watching reruns of The Golden Girls with JT. We drank cheap wine and homemade sangria on our rooftop.
It’s the way the few surrounding blocks smell that make the most memory. Not exactly sadness but a sort of aloof wariness that comes with the knowledge that what has happened will never happen again. A kiss on our front steps, a certain night out in a smoky, underground club will never happen again.
I think about the people I had in my life in what was really not so long ago on those upper west side blocks. I think about how most of them have gone away, how most of them are fallen soldiers of my past. I briefly pass over those who have come and gone since then. They seem like spirits, not quite tangible to me. They don’t seem like real people you could reach out and touch.
The air around me is dry and cold but the memories deep in my soul are hot and raw like good bourbon. That year on 75th street was the year I became a New Yorker, it was the year I began to become an adult. It was the year I decided that I had a burning desire for success and was willing to fight in order to have it. It was the year Green went away to the marines. It was the year I met someone new. So much of my mind and experience is rooted there, on that block, in that apartment with its too many skylights.
And as I looked up from my day dream, shaken all over by a sudden chill, I realized I was at 90th street and that I was almost home.