I step out of the door of my apartment. Shoulders back, my mother would be shocked by my perfect posture. The moisture in the air is at just the right percentage to make my hair flow in perfect Taylor Swift-esque waves. Most people complain about this level of humidity, especially in late September, but I relish it.
When I first moved to New York, ever day I left my apartment with the giddy feeling of I live in the center of the universe. Anything could happen today. Now into my fourth year here, I’ve left my apartment thousands of times. That feeling has subsided, sometimes replaced by the likes of I live in the center of the universe. It’s exhausting. Why is it so hard to make things happen? Not tonight. Tonight the city is my oyster. Anything could happen. It feels great.
I step out the door of my building. I’m six feet tall. Both metaphorically and literally thanks to an attitude adjustment and surprisingly comfortable strappy sandals. I am so confident in their comfort that I am walking the 18 blocks to the evening’s destination. There is nothing I love more than a New York City walk. Lately though, in true city fashion, I’ve become obsessed with time. You know the cliché that New Yorkers walk faster than anyone else in the entire world? It’s true. Even so, my single gear bicycle is five times faster than a New York native who is late to work. In the interest of fractioning all commute time, I’ve taken to biking every where.
Biking the streets of Manhattan, sometimes I feel I’m in a racing video game. Dodge a jaywalker, get a life. Throw dirty looks at a speeding cab, 100 points. Avoid a series of potholes, move up a level. The stakes are high: no do-overs. The level of concentration required is a hell of a lot higher than for any video game, though I haven’t touched a gaming system in two years I say that with full confidence. “CONSTANT VIGILANCE” (stolen from Mad Eye in Harry Potter) is my biking motto. I miss truly taking in my surroundings, people watching, viewing the world and imagining its description in a novel. I really miss that part of a walk and I’m excited for these 18 blocks.
The first person I pass on my walk remarks, “Beautiful outfit.” I smile, Thanks! A black button-up shirt and a red and white polka-dotted skirt pulled together with a red belt, I put thought into this outfit for several reasons. Among them are: I am going to a big invite-only musical theater party. Which means lots of gays, and gays judge clothes. Musical theater isn’t quite my thing and when I’m a bit out of my element, I like to look awesome. I’m not feeling so awesome, so looking the part is even more important.
I spent the day watching episodes of Ally McBeal on Netflix. That wasn’t my plan for the day. My plan for the day involved a date. A date that was planned in person and not confirmed 5 million times via text message. In this day and age, that’s a date that’s not happening. But I’m an old-fashioned girl. I keep hoping to find an old-fashioned boy who doesn’t consider his iPhone second only to his penis. What am I thinking, right? This is NYC, the only men like that are homeless.
Dating is really starting to frustrate me in this city. I’m beginning to hope the problem is me. Then at least I’d have some control here. On some level, it’s probably true. I pick the wrong men. Scratch that- I pick the wrong boys. I so tired of dating boys. But they are not intimidating, even the wickedly handsome ones, and I exude confidence around them. With men, I’m more unsure. Then of course, there’s also the issue of going out to parties celebrating musical theater openings… There might be one single straight male at such an event and chances are I’ll be looking down on him thanks to my shoes.
I’m pondering all of this on my walk when suddenly I eat it. I swallow a scream, amazed at the speed in which my feet fly out from under me. A great thing about working in theater- you learn how to fall so it doesn’t hurt. I fell several times a day this summer while playing a silly pirate and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My hands catch me. They smart a bit but the cement does not draw blood. My knee grazes the pavement and is not so lucky. A small trickle of blood runs down, like I nicked myself with a razor. For the first time in months my legs are not covered in bug bites, the scab from a recent spill on my bike fell off today; for a few hours hours I had flawless legs. So much for that.
Ally McBeal and Carrie Bradshaw are always falling down in the world of TV. I always thought it was an element of slapstick. Now I see it’s just the way of life in high-heeled shoes. “Are you alright, miss?” I’m fine. I blame coursing adrenaline for making me snappish. I glare back at the offending side-walk. There is a huge gap of at least an inch between two cracks. That’s what did it and it makes me happy: I didn’t trip over my own feet, phew.
I continue my walk. I see a baseball game in the park across the street. I wait at the light so I can walk by it. I need the ego boost. The men in their blue uniforms seem happy to provide it, many turning their heads as I walk by. Thanks guys. My knee stops bleeding before I reach the woman with the clip board. Things are looking up. I give her my name and walk up the stairs. I spend the rest of the evening schmoozing, drinking free wine, and trying to be the first to appetizer trays.