The floor is hard smooth cold linoleum. It is my first Manhattan address. I am so glad to have my own place in New York City. It is something I have wanted for a long time, especially since I met the New York City boy who became my boyfriend. He has a place in New York City. He’s always had one. He grew up here, which is something I will unfortunately never be able to claim, that will always be a drawback, but at least I am here now.
I feel at home in this city, moving on its subways and sidewalks. I feel like I belong here, but somehow when I come inside into this room New York City leaves me, its influence recedes and I am exposed as the girl without friends and nothing to do.
But who can I be friends with? The girl in science lab? She’s so drab. The other girls in the suite? I like it when they’re there when I come in, sitting around the table in the hall by the black wall phone, but I can’t sit down with them, they know each other, I don’t know what to say to them, my words sound hollow, I hate saying empty words like: how as your day, like: it’s so cold out – I say a few things to them and then I slip into the room at the end of the hall that is mine.
My boyfriend has an apartment where he goes to school in another town, a place with Salvation Army furniture and a tiny kitchen that he cooks big meals in. He has a TV and a stereo and a long shelf of records he’s been listening to for years. He has a phone and a bong and an electric typewriter. When I am there it feels like something is always happening. He is always on the move, always moving – lighting the bong, wanting to go out for pizza or Chinese or a movie, watching TV, buying a record. I do all these things with him.
And then when I am here and he is not, none of those things interest me though I know he is in his town, doing that endless string. He never says, I don’t know what to do. Never pauses. Never walks just to walk.
At night, it’s cold out, I return to this room, so small. Thank God no one can see me in here with these books I have looked at, lined upon the shelves, so many times. There are no curtains or shades on the window. It is a blank black square. How can I get through the few hours of evening. I must stay awake until 11 because then my boyfriend will call. He will be wide awake and I will pretend that I am too.
But I long to hear his voice, the tangle of his scratchy voice that wraps me in a blanket, wraps me. I clutch at its comfort, wondering when it will be taken away.