When I left L.A. it was a little like awakening from a dream – at least for awhile. I’d gone to L.A. with Jeffrey because I had nothing else to do and he wanted to be a movie director. I’d stayed there three years. I had often wanted to leave, but that took money and I never had any after pay day. And then my publishing job invited me to go back with the company to New York City. I didn’t hesitate for a second. Yes, I said, count me in. I want to go back to Manhattan. I never liked this palm tree town. And buy my plane ticket and pay for my records and my books and my stereo to all go back with me. It was a dream come true.
It wasn’t so easy getting out of L.A. Jeffrey made a huge fuss. When he didn’t like things I did he had a way of throwing them back to me as crimes, like all of a sudden he loved me in ways I’d never imagined and I must be the most cold-hearted person in the world. So he had me crying a lot and freezing up into depressions, trying to twist my insides so that when they showed they looked right, but I made it out of town because the company was waiting and even Jeffrey couldn’t take on the company. So I flew out of town in February 1981, 23 years old, reading The French Lieutenant’s Woman and seeing someone with a Walkman for the first time on that plane.
I thought it would be so easy. Slide into Manhattan, join the crowds with their brand new Walkmans on the sidewalk. They would propel me along with them.
But the very first night, my first night back in Manhattan, I am in my friend Thea’s apartment. She is out of town and letting me stay a few nights and she’s not that great a friend like I had once thought. She’s a Vogue model now, traveling round the world and buying $500 cowboy boots in Soho when she feels like it. Her apartment is a squalid, dark studio on Sixth Avenue just north of Eighth Street and I’m stranded. I don’t know why. Now that I’m here, it doesn’t seem so easy to go out and join those crowds on the sidewalk. They will not take me in.
I call Jeffrey back in L.A. and there is his sweet familiar gravelly voice, the only person I can say “I feel terrible” to. “You’ll be okay,” he says. He is watching TV. I know he’ll fill up the bong and make dinner on the couch. He will just keep on going. He doesn’t need me for his routines.
I don’t think of the word “lonely.” No, I think of words like: what is wrong with me that all I know to do is to go to bed at 9 o’clock? How come I don’t know how to be part of all that noise out there? I feel like I’m in a foreign country, not home – and I am ashamed and must not let this feeling of being on the outside show.
It’s like when I was in high school and I did not know how to join in. Now I’m in New York City and it’s the same. I don’t know how to join in.
Thank god for the office. And that’s what I hate most of all. That I need that 9-5 corporate office to get me up in the morning, to give me a place to go like everybody else. It’s all I have, that warren of offices for people with no imagination.
I like walking to work though, wearing sneakers with my skirt, walking so fast in the fresh morning air that I feel like a sprinter, my body elastic –and I feel a tremendous new energy surge through me at times that I know has nothing to do with my old life with Jeffrey, an energy that only runs free when I am away from him because such things are too wholesome to interest him.
But more than anything , I must find a new boyfriend. I can’t bear that Jeffrey will be with some new girl – I am sure it will not take him long, he likes so many girls – I must beat him to it, must find someone just so he knows I am strong and happy and independent – and so I know it too – but even the one or two boys who come around, the ones I corner at parties where I don’t know anyone – maybe they look cute for a minute or two – but they never feel like home the way Jeffrey feels like home. I don’t let myself call him though I long to.