November 15, 1987

We’re back from our weekend getaway. We got in around 10 p.m. Friday night at Jeff’s parents’ house. I met both parents and they’re very nice. Jeff and I went out driving later – very fast, but I wasn’t afraid. We talked about very strange things, like death and the afterlife.

Saturday morning Mike and Wendy picked us up. We went to the Mall and I absolutely loved it. There were some really great stores, like the Sharper Image. A great many “catalog” stores. Afterwards, we went to see Scott in the hospital. He’s doing fine, has a pin or two or three – I don’t know – in his leg. I don’t really know him, so I stood back feeling uncomfortable while the guys visited. I felt like I was somehow invading his privacy.

Wendy and I saw the cutest little girl in one of the rooms down the hall. She was all alone and crying, and we got her to stop crying and actually fall to sleep. Afterward, the four of us got sandwiches at a deli and waited for the train into New York.

I LOVED New York. We dubbed our trip “Jeff’s 20-minute tour of New York City,” since he sort of took charge of where we went and what we saw and because we seriously ran through the city. We had taken a train in from Hoboken, and got off in Greenwich Village.

I saw lots of neat stores everywhere to shop in, if only I had the money and we weren’t on a whirlwind tour. We stumbled onto a sex shop called the Pleasure Chest, and the boys dragged us inside. It was wild! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s way more kinky than Spencer’s. There were glass display cases full of dildos in every size, shape, and color, and other things I had never seen before. And they had these little penis erasers! Now those I would have loved to have. I can’t imagine the looks I’d get in class with them!

We raced through Washington Square Park – this beautiful park surrounded by trees and a huge fountain in the middle, and a huge arch on one side that looked like Paris. There were people everywhere, sitting on park benches and children in the smallest playground area, dogs on leashes, legions of artist-types lounging around the empty fountain, and students with backpacks.

There, and on several of the streets we walked through, I saw purple and white flags hanging all over the place. Turns out this is NYU, or, New York University. It never, ever occurred to me that people go to school in New York. This has to be the coolest place ever to go to school. How cool would that be?

Anyway, Jeff’s Whirlwind Tour came to an end and we took the train back to Hoboken. We went out to dinner at some restaurant there, and had a great time. I love going out to dinner and getting served. Wendy got trashed and so did I – we had an excellent time together. We stopped at Mike’s sister’s apartment. Mike kept dropping the keys at the door, on purpose, because he knew I had to pee.  Everyone was laughing. Except me.

**Disclaimer: I don’t use the upgraded service; therefore, you will see ads at the bottom of my posts (ads I don’t see because I’m not you). As it has come to my attention that certain ads may not align with my world views – I am compelled to add the following statement until further notice.

I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP. NOT YESTERDAY, NOT TODAY, NOT – EVER.

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Flashback: February 24, 1990

Tuesday morning I had my Medieval Lit in-class paper – I didn’t even finish. Then yesterday my Irish Renaissance paper was due, and a Math test I didn’t get to finish.

Last night we partied in the dorm – Roxanne, Julie, Chris, Ian, Luke, and I. The living room looked like a tornado went through it. I left around 11 to visit Michelle and Lori in South Tower and apparently they all thought I was out wandering the streets alone. Ian was so worried he went out looking for me, wandering all over the village. When he didn’t find me he came back to the dorm and wrote me this bizarre yet very creative poem that didn’t rhyme, in which he called me an “infant arachnid.”

Roxanne is feeling paranoid about her weekend with Bryan. She thinks she’s pregnant. Her period is so irregular it’s entirely possible that it’s coming soon, but worrying about it just makes it all seem worse. Meanwhile, I’m having doubts again, about the whole thing with John. It’s so easy for me to be away from him right now. I think it’s time for that whole “space” thing again. I keep having doubts about him. Thinking about the future just scares me to death.

I wish I could talk to James Joyce sometimes. I feel like I’m struggling to realize myself, and perhaps he could help. Mom and I got into a fight on the telephone yesterday about silly things. I started to cry.  She called back a little later, we cleared the air, and I realized we share the same irrational fear. We both feel like when one of us gets mad, the other will stop loving us. It’s a sad realization – our bond is so powerful that sometimes it hurts, sometimes I feel like I can’t leave her, and it’s like a force is pulling me back to her and when I resist it tears me up. I wonder if she feels the same?

Sometimes I get so messed up that it frightens me – because occasionally I feel like I just want to die.  To close my eyes and sink into nothingness. Let the tears stop flowing and reach a higher plane, full of light and warmth, for eternity. God put me on this earth for something – I don’t think He wants me back for a while. But who is out there? I sometimes can’t find her. The fog moves in and becomes so thick I can hardly see her, and then she drifts away. God, please don’t let me fall into boring patterns when I grow up. All my life I wanted to grow up, and now I’ll be 21 in a few months. What then? I still don’t have a clue.

 

A 20-something’s “Bucket List”

I’ve saved college papers, creative writing, bits of prose, writing prompts… and recently stumbled across a list of things I wanted to do, written during my years at NYU – at the tender age of 20. I didn’t know this was officially called a bucket list. It’s silly.

Cruise around Manhattan (Booze cruise). There were a number of these going on at the time, not a few of them NYU-related events.

Empire State Building. Never been, unless I was there when my dad to took me to New York when I was 6. I’ll have to ask him.

Statue of Liberty. I was there when I was 6. I have no memory of it, only the memory of the plastic statue souvenir I had for years afterward.

Go to Italy – Florence, Rome, Venice. I spent the night in Rome when I was 11, on a lay-over to Greece. Doesn’t count.

Soho. I’m not sure what I meant by this. Soho isn’t far from where I lived and we did some serious shopping there.

Balloon Ride. Must’ve sounded appealing, though by the time I was 27 I had absolutely no desire to do this. Specifically – I had a friend who operated them and I flat out turned him down on a ride. *I’ve got an interesting story about this I will share in another post.

Weekend in New England (Bed & Breakfast). I spent a few weekends in New England visiting friends… does that count?

Waterskiing. I had a friend in my mid-20s who owned a boat and waterskied. I’m sure my neuroses kept me securely in the boat by this time.

Go to an antiques auction. We had a close family friend who was a world famous antiques dealer, so I guess he inspired me.

Rollerblading. This was a new craze, everybody was doing it, and it was a fast way to get around the city. I wanted to do it too. I did buy a pair and tried to teach myself. Embarrassing.

California. A short and boring trip to Laguna Beach with my parents when I was 16 wasn’t enough. Years later… and several trips to San Diego and Santa Barbara… it was wonderful and reinforced my desire to live there, though I haven’t been back in 19(!) years.

Study abroad program. I really, really wanted to go to England, though I never pursued it. If I had a do-over – I would go for sure.

Ballroom dancing. Two of my roommates were on the NYU team, and I really wanted to learn. I’m still thinking Todd and I should learn together. And I’m sure he’s laughing right now.

Acting. I really wanted to try acting, and fantasized about being on a soap. It sounds laughable now; however, there really was a summer course in acting at NYU that was taught by people in the biz, including soaps, so this wasn’t so far-fetched an idea. At over $3,000, it was costly for its time. I didn’t take it, but did take an impactful acting class at my college.

Picnic in the Park (with champagne). I emphasized champagne on this list, like it was mandatory. I did do this once, on a meaningless date, so I guess I “could” check the box. However, there was no champagne involved and I have a confession to make. I don’t really like champagne. I really REALLY want to do this with my husband. With wine instead.

Buy a wig. This one is just bizarre. I will write it off as a Gemini thing – the chameleon tendencies we have.

Work in retail. Now this one is a real stretch. Hasn’t everyone worked in retail at some point in their lives? In my 3rd year at NYU, I got a job working mid-town at Express. It was a blast, and I met a handful of soap actors who shopped our store because it was around the corner from the studios. Retail beckoned again in my mid-twenties when I went to work at Macy’s. There might be money in retail, but not at an hourly rate or when it’s commission-based.

Dog show. What in the -? I have no idea why or what even made that enter my mind.

There was a lot of New York-based stuff I never did: A helicopter ride, Strawberry Fields, Central Park Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, Chinatown’s Mott & Canal Streets, Mulberry Street between Grand & Canal, Feast of San Gennaro, Battery Park, Wall Street and the NYSE.

I passed through Chinatown a handful of times, though I ate in this really fabulous noodle house on the fringe once. I walked on Wall Street, does that count? I spent a bit of time in Central Park, sunning myself on the hill next to the Met while I studied, but I never visited the zoo. I listed the Guggenheim, which for some reason I never went to; I did go to the Frick, MOMA, and Met many times.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My roommate and I stopped in there during the holidays and it was breathtakingly beautiful and, not surprisingly, filled with people.

Tavern on the Green. I got my wish on graduation day with my mom and my dad. We had lunch there with a bottle of Dom Perignon and I don’t remember what any of us ate except the exquisite lobster bisque. (The Dom was not my idea, by the way).

Comedy clubs – Caroline’s, Boston Comedy Club, Comic Strip, Dangerfields. I frequented the Boston Comedy Club for its proximity to where I lived. One trip to Dangerfield’s was an unfortunate blind double date. The comedy was great. The date was not.

Top of the World Trade Center. This is bittersweet. I never did go to the top, though I passed through the WTC on the subway to downtown many times.

Tony & Tina’s Wedding. This show had only been running for a few years by the time I got to New York, but it sounded like so much fun I wanted to go too. Never went.

Carriage ride around Central Park. I saved this for last, because it was quite an elaborate fantasy I had created. I imagined myself in this beautiful forest-green gown, riding in the carriage with my man. There was no man at the time, but the dress was real – I found it completely by accident while I was shopping with my friend at Bloomie’s. Silly as it sounds – I imagined this event in more detail than my own wedding. And I never forgot it. Perhaps I will one day live it out?

This find inspired me to write a new one. I wonder what will be on it?

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to New York, Baby Girl

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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.

 

 

New York, Early Spring 1991

 
Another generally irritating day, where I had a list of things to do and only accomplished half of them. I’m carrying this annoying bag filled with the work of the day, and it’s so heavy that when it swings it nearly knocks me over. I had to stop at the store to pick up a few things, so now I’ve got another bag. It’s pouring down rain out, and the wind is threatening to invert my umbrella. So there I am, struggling with these three things and dropping my mail on the wet floor at the guard’s station as I struggle to locate my ID and at the same time keep the soaked umbrella away from my pants.
I stumble into my apartment, violently thrust forward by the weight of my bag as it slips off my shoulder. I sigh heavily with an air of annoyance, and I feel the tears burning behind my eyes. All I want to do is sit in my bed in the dark, with the covers pulled up to my chin, clutching my lifelong friend Teddy. And cry. What an incredibly frustrating day! Nothing went right.
Instead I find my roommate stretched out on her bed with the blinds up, listening to music. She’s doing absolutely nothing. Most of the time she does nothing. She’s been sleeping all day. I am instantly pissed to find her there, invading my right to privacy again.
“Hi!” she sings cheerily. She’s only a sophomore, and already she has her life planned out as far as graduation from Harvard Law. She’ll probably do it. The only thing she seems to worry about is not getting into Harvard because she only has a 3.7 GPA. It really irritates me to hear her complain about this.
Last semester I was contemplating law school – I even have a dusty white box in the back of my closet with about twenty bulletins. Criminal justice is fascinating, and I’ve always been interested in helping people (and the money doesn’t look too bad either). But then I changed my mind because I knew I wasn’t ready to handle the workload, and I sure don’t have a 3.7.
It really bothers me that she worries over such a tiny little thing, when she already has planned out everything else. This summer she’s studying in Korea. Next year she wants to do the Washington semester.  She’s already got an internship for next fall. I don’t even have that – I haven’t even begun the search for one. That’s just another thing on my long list of “Things to Do.” It bothers me that she already knows what she wants to do after only two years in college and I’m still playing the guessing game after four. I want to know too! When I talk about the uncertainty of my future and worry about graduation and finding a job, she looks at me blankly like I’m a lunatic.
So I stumble into my room. I can’t even look at her. If I open my mouth I’ll say things I’ll regret.  I want her to get out. I swear she hasn’t left that spot since she crawled into it last night. I toss my bag on the floor, rip off my jacket, kick off my shoes, and fall into bed.  I pull the covers up over my head, and lie still. I wait. The tears are stinging my eyes. I slip one hand out from under the covers, groping for Teddy’s leg somewhere behind my head.
She either gets the hint or is getting hungry. She turns off the radio, closes the blinds, and leaves me in the empty darkness of our room. I close my eyes and try to envision something peaceful – a warm, sandy beach, blue ocean, me, and nothing but the sound of seagulls soaring overhead. But, as usual, it doesn’t work. Something is gnawing at the pit of my stomach, and I just want to cry and cry.
I want someone to come along, take my hand, and show me the way. I’m on some rollercoaster ride to nowhere and I just want to get off. I wish the end of this road wasn’t so dark and scary. I wish I had some answers.
©taraversus2016

 

Snowfalls, Remembered

Over a glass of Knob Creek, and after an impromptu cleanup of an overflowing toilet in the kids’ bathroom…
 
All this snow – and a Facebook post by a friend who lives in New York City – had me thinking about snowfalls past.
While I was a student at NYU, I loved the days it snowed and blanketed the city in pristine white. There was this one magical snow that I have never forgotten. It was the end of 1990- the beginning of 1991 – I was home on break but returned to the city one weekend to spend time with this guy was I was dating. We decided to go to the movies – we saw Awakenings in an intimately small midtown theatre and I was blown away by Robert DeNiro’s performance. I was feeling hormonal and particularly emotional, and tried so hard not to cry and embarrass myself.
It had started snowing during the movie so that the scene outside the theatre was positively beautiful. The side street was white and unadulterated by tire marks, and there was the occasional cab skidding by on 3rdAvenue. Otherwise, just the snow falling silently all around us, ghostly steam rising out of the manhole covers, and people leisurely walking –so black and white, like a scene out of a silent film. I could hear the sound of my own heart beating. He took me by the hand and together we walked the distance back to our dorm. I don’t remember what we talked about, or even what I felt – other than overcome by the magic of a silent, white New York on a snowy night, telling myself I never wanted to leave. If you’ve lived there, you know those moments don’t last. The next morning would be brown and potholes full of icy, dirty water would have to be navigated, along with slippery sidewalks and cold, gusty winds.
I don’t often remember whole events in my life, but certain scenes just stand out. Kind of like old photographs in an old dusty album. They are memories, but only tell a tiny part of the story.
Another snippet – a frigid, snowy night on 3rd Avenue again. My roommate and I were distracted from our studies by the sounds of our neighbors in the suite next door, making a ruckus from their window catty-corner from ours. They had started an impromptu baseball game with a stranger in an apartment across the street, baseballs crafted from snow collected from the rooftop above the 12th floor. Snow they carried down the elevator. Our friend was pitching the snowballs across 12th street and the stranger was hanging out his 4th floor window hitting them with a frying pan.
Most magical snowfall ever? The night Todd and I stole a kiss under the moonlight while the snow fell silently all around us, just a few weeks before we went public, the second time.
What’s your most magical snowfall? Tell me, I wanna know.