Monday, March 23, 2009

The Week in Review: Foreign Territory.

When leaving the ease of a familiar routine or the comfort of a shared 600 sq ft of space in the sky you call home, it’s safe to say that you won’t know what to expect. What you expect might not be what comes to pass. Now this can be as spectacularly exciting as it is extraordinarily disappointing. And somewhere in the middle of the is-she-self-medicating-highs and cut-yourself-on-purpose-lows, you realize that this is life and if nothing else, at least it’s interesting.

Let’s start at, well, the beginning of this theme I hope to pull together into a complete thought by the end. I’m going to say something, and then I’ll hold a minute for you to pull it together. I gave up alcohol for lent. …………………………………………………….. It wasn’t my idea. My good-Catholic-girl-BFF-roomie decided to give it up for lent. Like a lemming, I followed and said; yeah I’ll do that too.

When you give up alcohol, one thing you most certainly don’t miss is the hangover. One thing you do miss, however, is the alcohol. This is why I caved and as I began to write this, I opened up the finest bottle of $8.99 sauv blanc that the wine store downstairs has to offer. For the rest of lent, I’m just hoping to cut back and be healthier, which will no doubt turn into some concrete resolution to maybe, “lay off at least four out of seven nights a week,” and then evolve into, “seriously, no more day drinking… during the week.” At least I am aware that my rationalization sounds about as sensible as, “well I’ve shut down the meth lab, but I still shoot up once a month or so to keep my edge.”

Regardless of my lack of ability to commit to a measly 40 days of self-started prohibition, I can still celebrate the end of Doobie’s sobriety at brunch on Easter Sunday. Because that’s what the deprivation is all about, right? Making one of the two Whiskeypalian-raised, requisite church appearances per year and then following up with liquid lunch. Needless to say, this venture into foreign territory panned out just as everyone expected it to. No one had faith in my 40 days of sobriety. Then again, I’ve never given anyone much of a reason.

The next undertaking into the unknown panned out with an unexpected ending of the most unpleasant nature. I recently ventured to San Francisco for the first time to visit a friend of mine. To say I was excited to see him is a gross understatement. Two days in, to say I wanted to teleport myself back home to New York, or get hit by a bus, is also a gross understatement. On the bright side, I saw two cousins and a dear friend from high whom I hadn’t seen in nine years (who took me through the “gayborhood” as he called it, and accounted for such a pleasantly surprising highlight of my trip out there). On the down side, I travelled 3000 miles to find out that the boy I fancied recently started seeing someone else. Special. Again, on the bright side, I had some unexpected, self-directed acting lessons. What the hell else are you supposed to do with a full 48 hours to go than put on a happy face and act like you’re having fun? I’ll tell you. Average about 1000 TMs per minute to Doobie/Chanita/Casey/Jamie/Chantelle/Michael detailing what you’re really feeling (unadulterated misery) and outlining what you’d really like to be doing (drowning yourself in a bucket).

Restoring balance and perspective in my universe, I ventured back to the birthplace the next weekend for a dear friend’s wedding. Now, this was a weekend I’d been dreading for reasons other than the wedding, much of which is just general anxiety generated when I’m not in a major, metropolitan area. It turned out to be better than I could have imagined. There’s nothing like a few nights (read: gallons of wine) among friends from the home front to make you see how, in the eternal words of Bob Marley, everything’s gonna be alright. And there’s nothing like seeing a best friend live out the wedding she always wanted to make you see what happy really looks like. And there’s nothing like Elmer’s school glue for children to adhere the ripped leather back to the heels of your shoes after sinking into the lawn all night. Unexpected highlight of a casual wedding, where the bride and groom are actually already married before the ceremony: taking your wine glass down to the river with you for the service.

My last and most recent expedition into the unfamiliar actually wasn’t that unfamiliar. Like any good New Yorker in training – 5.5 years to go till the title is legit – at lease renewal time, instead of doing the easy thing and staying put, we decided to surrender to the soul-sucking process that is moving in Manhattan. Getting evicted a mere year ago wasn’t enough. It was time to set out and spend $6 grand I don’t have, but would need in order to call a new neighborhood home. Or would I?

In an unexpected turn of events, the second apartment we saw was a go. It was cheaper than our current place, in real Soho (not “Soho”/a refrigerator box in an underground tunnel by the Spring Street E train), the rooms were equal size and my ginormous couch would actually fit up the one flight of stairs you had to climb. Too good to be true? Yes and no, but mostly not really. One hiccup was that they wanted us to each make about $30K more than we currently do. Let’s be clear about something. If I had a $30K addition to what is already a comfortable salary, I would be looking for a more expensive apartment. Still, to end the search at apartment #2, we were ready to move forward. That is until I went out for cocktails in celebration of the return of a dearly missed NY transplant in from Chicago for the weekend. After a few rounds and a quick, “ja, I’m moving again” conversation, I learned a valuable lesson: good things can come from shitty bars, in particular Black Bear Lodge in Gramercy. BB will forever have my seal of good karma approval, for it is there where we started the conversation that led to getting the best apartment ever.

The best apartment ever is the entire 5th floor of 118 Hudson. It’s situated in Tribeca proper above Bubby’s and across the street from Nobu and Mr. Chow. Yes, I’m culinary name-dropping. The elevator opens up into 1700 square ft of space and there’s a washer/dryer in the unit. Enough said. But is it? No, because the finished roof deck wasn’t mentioned yet. And it plays host to a tiled bar, fridge and a grill that, unlike others I’ve seen in NY, would not be easily confused as part of a “kitchen-set” accessory for a child playing with dolls, not to mention there are lovely panoramic views of the Tribeca skyline. Not to be outdone by apartment amenities was the process itself. I’ll lay it out for you: we looked, we wanted, we took. No broker, no fee, no deposit, no lease. Just an amazing space in a low rise building full of guys who are all friends with each other, and perhaps soon, with us too.

For a glass-half-empty kind of gal like me, this foray into good luck was a welcome change. An old coworker recently told me, “The sum total of splendor in the universe is always the same. It just keeps changing locations,” and I take that to mean that my luck will once again become depressingly shitty. I find strange comfort in that, probably something to do with familiarity of the situation. I was also recently told getting your heart broken makes you feel alive. Alive? Maybe, but only because you’re painfully aware that you are. I liken that tidbit of advice to telling someone it’s good luck to see rain on their wedding day. File that under, “you’re definitely being told this for the sole purpose of trying to make you feel better, not because anyone actually believes it.” Finally, I was most recently told - by a psychic I saw this weekend on W Houston – that July and August would be good months for me. While that has potential, as it coincides with a mini Fire Island share I just got in on with one of my most favorite partners in crime, I also think it was Miss Cleo’s last ditch effort at selling me on more “psychic services” since I would only shell out the $10 bare minimum. You see, I’d never gone to see a psychic before and I didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of faith in what she said, but none the less, it was interesting enough to try something new. And maybe continuing to try new things is the big take-away here. Putting yourself out there could be the very thing that makes you realize how much you actually love everything you left behind, chief among it being white wine. And no matter what happens, New York is always there to fall back on. So whether you’re coming back from a foreign land, foreign coast, foreign borough (less likely), or a foreign state of being, i.e. sobriety, nothing compares to the homecoming with that skyline. And seeing it from a new neighborhood is certainly a refreshing point of view.




cckarl said...

um, HELLO!? You left the 1700 sq/ft + roof deck + washer/dryer out of the equation. When am I coming over?

austin said...

Receiving TWIR is a return to normalcy for me. Hope we can hook up next week.