From Nashville to New York to the Front Door of Love and Back, pt. 3 | menrule.net
Here’s the final part of the series I sent over to It’s a Man’s World. Here are the other parts in case you missed them:
I’m sitting on her bed figuring out what to do next. I can feel her sheets boiling underneath me and it is getting too uncomfortable to be alone in here any longer. Every part of me wants to flee this fucking city but I can’t do that with any sort of proud gallop. I can’t let this city chew me up and spit me out. Not now. Not yet. This fucking place. I just got here. I just got burned in less than twenty-four hours. So it takes me a moment to find the clarity to spit myself out of her bed. My phone is pressed against the side of my face. My shoulder holds it in place as I call one of the the only two people I know in New York.
The two people I know here live together. The three of us have known each other for at least ten years. They are happy to have me come stay with them in Forest Hills. I hang up, throw my phone on her comforter. The soft, powdery exhale it makes when it lands lines up with my own sigh of relief. I sit on the edge of the bed and write her a letter. I leave it hanging halfway off her black dresser. Some kind of skin care product weighs down the top of the page to keep it from falling. I pull my luggage behind me and set it next to the front door.
“Hey, I’m going”, I say, waving in the open doorway of her roommate’s room. They were watching a movie together.
She gets out of the bed, “Hold on. Let me get my shoes”.
When we reach the front door we hold each other for a moment. In this moment I can feel her making one last attempt to see if there’s anything she missed and the deeper she looks the more she pushes me away. When our embrace is broken I step back. I tell her that I’m not leaving in haste or any other ill-will. She nods as if she understands.
“At least we tried”, I say.
“I hope you stay in the city a little longer.”
At least we tried, I reaffirm to myself. My head is now resting against the glass and rocking back and forth with the sways of the track. The train pulls in and stops just short of the yellow crash bumper. This is the end of the line. The stop is as lonesome as the last of anything can be. I have also had this car to myself over the last three stops. It’s like the world knows I need a lonely place to reflect. That alone time lasts until I get into the crowded bus that is taking me to my friends’ apartment.
On the walk down Metropolitan Avenue I notice how much more quiet it is here than in Brooklyn. There are no jackhammers or perpetual sirens. It’s just the end-of-the-workday road noise in a busy town area. I see the restaurant on the corner I was told to look for.
“Baker!”, Andrew calls out from somewhere up.
I lean my head to the side and look up out of the right corner of my eye. There is Andrew’s face in the upstairs window screen. He disappears from the window then reappears downstairs at the entrance to the apartments upstairs. I wheel my luggage over to him and we give each other a hug. It’s been at least five years since I’ve seen him.
“So, what happened?”, he asks me as we walk up a narrow stairway in the hallway leading to their front door.
I give him a brief rundown of my expectations and hope. Then the demise of them both. I tell him about a fire that got extinguished and how the heat the fire brought wasn’t worth keeping around for the sake of the light.
“Want a gin and tonic?”, Andrew asks me almost immediately after entering the apartment.
Before I can answer he hands me a glass wrapped in a damp napkin. I meet his friend, Megan, who is a fellow Sagittarius. We sit down and the three of us share a spliff before Andrew leaves to go to a show in the city. Megan and I discuss leaving one’s hometown while sharing a cigarette he rolled before leaving. We discuss how small-town mentalities are capable of keeping someone in a box they’ve been expected to stay in. She keeps me company for another hour before leaving for work.
I’m still sleepless and full from a burger I just had from the empty bar across the street. On the floor of the apartment is a rolled up sleeping bag and a couple of pillows that Andrew set out for me. I kick my shoes off and lie down on my back with my head propped up on the rolled up sleeping bag. Stephanie will be home in an hour and I need something that resembles sleep. Being on the floor I can’t help but feel like a crumpled up piece of paper with an unwanted draft of a love letter written on it. It feels like as soon as I have that last thought, Stephanie walks in. We haven’t seen each other in a few years and my excitement is muted by layers of exhaustion.
“Hey”, I say to her in an unconvincing tone.
It’s nine in the evening and we walk ten minutes into Forest Hills. The bar she takes me to is small and as full as the little place can be. We share a table outside with a man named Pete and his lady friend. Stephanie and I catch up over a beer, sangria and mussels while the couple carries on their own conversation. We never noticed the argument he apologizes for as the two of us get up to leave. I shake Pete’s hand and thank him for letting us sit with him at a table outside the crowded bar.
Our walk home is through the brick homes and apartments that make up the majority of the Forest Hills neighborhood. Stephanie takes me the way she rides her bike home from the train stop after work. In the well manicured park there are park benches with backs four feet high. She boasts about how quiet this area is and how there is never trash on the ground. Just as she says that I see a cigarette butt in someone’s lawn and point at it like I’m calling her a liar.
“We must be in the bad part of town then”, she says.
We keep walking and I am taking in the drastic difference between Queens and Brooklyn and Manhattan. The night streets here are quiet with no bitter taste like the one Brooklyn left in my mouth. At this point, a few beers in and on the edge of delirium, I’m still battered by the disappointment of the situation with the girl I came here for. We’re finally back at the apartment and I sprawl out on the bed. My eyes are going, and I finally escape.