I am in Manhattan, the right place to be, and it is summertime. I like the heat. I like the ground under my feet. I like the early mornings in Riverside Park that feels as fresh as the country and I like the sidewalks. I walk them fast. I walk from my newfound apartment on West 91st 50 blocks downtown to my office near Bryant Park.
I have just moved back to New York and I feel huge energy in my body. I wear sneakers to work so I can walk and walk. And when I get to the silly office I don’t change. I keep them on all day with my long skirts, like the blue dress that my friend Thea gave me. It’s kind of a perfect dress with long sleeves and buttons down the front, a bright soft royal blue cotton with a pattern of small flowers. It was expensive, a dress I would not have been able to buy. It’s one of the reasons I like it so much.
Thea is rich because she’s a model. I’ve never known a model before. She didn’t use to be a model. She started off just being the girl in the room next to mine in the dorm about 4 years ago. But then she became a model – I don’t know how – and she gave me this dress. I want to be friends with Thea. She fits my idea of a friend. She is beautiful in an interesting way. She and I talk often in small restaurants about how we want to make art. She has a big loom in her small dark apartment. She doesn’t use it much. But she tells me when she does. It is a big accomplishment. Just like I tell her when I write something. We talk about the books we are reading. she works in an art gallery. But she always seems far more lucky and well placed than me. She has a lot of friends in that gallery world that I never meet. I just hear about them, fabulous people. I am afraid to meet them and she does not suggest it either. I am not part of that world, but I wish I was.
I am released in these first few months from all the years that have led up to this. I have spent five years with one boyfriend, deep with one boyfriend in a small private world, and I have been creeping out of it for the past year, first moving out from the little Hollywood cottage we shared for three years, a white Hollywood cottage shaded by almost jungle greenery, lime-green shag carpet inside, a kitchen floor of yellow linoleum sticky with oil spilled from his plug-in fryer, the living room with it brown vinyl-topped coffee table grey with ashes from the blue ceramic pipe we light every day, the color TV on a small table with wheels, the brown couch, the small cloudy fish tank tucked into a built-in bookshelf that has one creature in it that looks like a mushroom. Jeffrey has not cleaned that tank for months and months. He cleans the two other tanks, large ones on wooden stands, colorful with saltwater fish – he doesn’t want anything so normal as freshwater fish. No, they are saltwater tropical fish that he buys at a large store on a broad, half-empty street south of here, outside the activity of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, some boulevard that has no palm trees or flowers or plants of any kind – just this big aquarium store he can go to during the day while I am working to find another colorful fish to bring home. He used to go shopping for used records. Now it’s fish.
I got out of that house. I didn’t know how to leave. Though I thought about it often. It was easier to stay and do the same thing over and over. I left in a furious fight. The kind where you leave in the middle of the night and slam the door and don’t care where you go next you just have to go. Except this time I knew where I’d go. I’d seen that building with apartments for rent and I drive there and I park outside in the dark on the street and I put the driver’s seat back as far as it will go and I sleep uncomfortably until morning, until the place opens up and I rent a furnished apartment there, just one big room really, but I like the bright blue of the bathroom and just that it’s mine.
And a year later now in Manhattan, alone now, acting out the part of a girl who doesn’t have a longterm boyfriend anymore though I know I could turn around and go back there so easily, I drink in all the energy I can take from the being here, as if I were shot out of Los Angeles on a rubber band and I can ride it and ride it and I hope I can ride it long enough to get somewhere before I run out of certainty.