My bags are packed. The big black rolling one I brought when I came here so long ago and the huge, cheaply made duffle I bought on Canal Street
for fifteen bucks. I hope the weather on my connection through St. Louis
is good because this thing just might disintegrate upon contact with water.
I manage to waddle out of my building onto good old East 14th Street, carrying more than my body weight swathed in black canvas. I glance at Union Square Park that I loved, Food Emporium which I loathed, and that wierd artwork above the Virgin Megastore which frankly baffled me. Like a phantasmagoric blend of a volcano and a vagina, with a twelve-digit number above it on a digital readout, it was constantly changing.
My suitemate hails me a cab from Fourth Ave.
"Keep in touch!" (Please don't)
"I will." (I have no intention of doing so)
Going further east on 14th doesn't bother me. Driving along the river's edge doesn't phase me- I'm going home. I'm excited. On to things smaller and better.
The city recedes behind the rear window of my taxi slowly, like it has so many times before, when I came and went like through my bedroom door, always to return later.
To return later.
Sitting on the NJ turnpike I'm confident, though I did earlier violate the covenant I made with myself not to look out the rear window. I sigh and look down at the book I'm reading but not reading, and think about sleeping in my own bed. Think about seeing my brothers. And at least this way I'll miss the winter. My wardrobe is conducive to a place where it's seventy degrees all the time.
Fast forward to the point where I have been sitting on the runway of LaGuardia for two hours. I'm listening to upbeat music. I'm doing everything right, reading a comical book, eating a cookie, keeping occupied. And then, all of a sudden, hours after it was supposed to, the plane starts moving. The wheels leave the ground. The plane ascends and circles west, and that island, you know which one I mean, the one that's thirteen miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide, it starts to slip out of my vision like water slips between your fingers. I had it in the palm of my hands: homework in Central Park, weekend evenings at Limelight, that one breakfast at Tiffany with my best friend from Boston, and I'd thrown it to the wind. I turned on the light switch and was surprised to find that I wasn't dreaming anymore.
The Empire State Building was red that night, as it had been for a couple nights prior. I pressed my face against the window and pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and blinked away the hot little tears that made rivulets in my powder, stifling any sobs or sniffing noises, which didn't really work all that well, as people kept sending me concerned, perpelexed looks for the remainder of the flight. A stewardess gave me an extra cookie with my dinner and smiled at me, obviously proud of the gap between her teeth.