Welcome to New York, Baby Girl



September 2, 1989

I’m sitting on my bed now in Third Avenue North. I can’t believe I’m finally here. I’m feeling really nervous and anxious, mostly because there’s really nothing I can do… which sounds incredibly stupid since I’m now living in the city that never sleeps.

Mom drove me up here with all my stuff packed tightly into her little BMW, and I directed her to my dorm. She says she’s not familiar with New York like she is Philly, and she’s afraid of getting lost. I tell her that’s ridiculous, since New York is a grid of numbered streets and avenues and if one street goes one way, the other will go the opposite. I don’t know how the hell she doesn’t get lost in Philly with all the streets named after trees. Where’s the logic in that??

We checked me into my dorm and they give you these big-ass commercial laundry-like carts to throw all your stuff in so you don’t have to make 300 trips up and down the elevator and out to your car. Afterward, we took a walk together down the block to one of the corner delis and mom bought me some groceries and other supplies for apartment living. We passed a resale shop with antiques and instruments in the window and mom said I should learn to play an instrument while I’m here. Like the flute. Um, yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.

She’s filled with advice for practical and impractical living, and made sure to ask me if I knew how to tell a man was gay. Which, by the way, is the most fucked up thing she’s ever asked me. Growing up in the restaurant business has exposed me to countless people of all persuasions, not to mention that several of her close friends are gay. I’m guessing she’s afraid I’ll fall in love with someone who won’t like me that way. And now I’m wondering if this happened to her?? At the time, I didn’t think to ask.

Saying goodbye was tough. More for her than for me, I think. I was anxious to just “get to it”… stop dragging out my former life and embrace the city. She hugged me tightly and (teary-eyed) told me she loved me and I need to call and, “don’t hide yourself away here.” I think she meant don’t hide in your dorm room, which I am predisposed to do when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I’m living in apartment-style housing, so there are two bedrooms shared between four roommates, a kitchen and common living area. There’s only one girl here right now – Jane – a senior who’s been here since her sophomore year. My roommate isn’t here yet and I have no idea when she’s coming, since I never spoke to her. I only know that she’s Greek, which is comforting since I’ve grown up half my life with a Greek stepfather.

I’m almost completely unpacked, except for a few small things. My room, on the fourth floor, overlooks the courtyard, which is incredibly noisy with the sound of those rolling carts going back and forth and voices floating skyward past my window like they’re on amplifiers. I cleaned the bathroom, which was really disgusting with all these little hairs scattered everywhere, and I’m amazed that Jane didn’t feel the need to do any cleaning last week when she moved in. She said her roommate, “A,” doesn’t come until Monday. Jane’s a bit strange, but really she’s just very outspoken and doesn’t mind being so. She doesn’t know Roxanne either, so hopefully she’s a transfer like me who’s starting over.

The next day felt a little better. My anxiety has abated, if only a little. I got up and decided to venture out, took a cab halfway uptown and wandered the rest of the way. I walked all the way back home. I’m so tired now.

Jane invited me up to her friend Linda’s room to watch movies tonight, which was really nice and I decided to go cause I knew I wouldn’t be doing anything better. They told me not to take anything A says personally, she just has a strange way about her. Great. I can’t WAIT to meet her.

The news lately has been all about racial divide and disputes, which admittedly I casually paid attention to but it got real today. While I was walking home, I passed 3 black men dressed in white and standing on the sidewalk facing a gathering crowd. Holding a microphone, one was talking about the white man and his indifference just as I was passing through. I have never felt more conspicuous in my life, not even on that bus in the Bahamas.

On Labor Day Jane and I pondered again where my roommate is, and wondered if she was even coming. If she doesn’t show up, I’ll end up with a single – at least for a little while. The anxiety hasn’t fully abated yet. This is going to be very hard, much harder than I anticipated. I have these fleeting feelings of going home, not staying here, and working full time. But I have to give it a chance.

A” seems alright – a little strange – but I like her. She’s quiet in some ways, but then she’ll drop some judgmental statement like a casual fart. Not sure how to take it yet.

I hung out tonight with both her and Jane and met some of their friends who seemed nice. It’s really nice of them to include me and I appreciated the gesture. And Jane gave me a tape. I’ll have to listen to it soon.

September 7, 1989

Today was the first day of classes. I had The Family at 9:55 and Literary Interpretation at 2:50. My roommate finally came yesterday! She’s really cool. Her sister is staying here too because she’s on the waiting list for housing. So apparently she’ll be staying with us for at least two weeks. I’m not sure how this is going to work, but whatever. I’m not the one who has to share a twin bed with her.

We’re going out tonight! First time clubbing in New York.



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