Economic crisis, climate change, and world drama not withstanding, there it is, or rather, there it was … again. That skyline. It happens right before you get anywhere near the tunnel, before you reach the bridge — coming from any international destination, or even Omaha, you can’t not see the lights from the window of the plane. But from the car, there it is. Wizard of frickin’ Oz, Emerald Cityesque, and just glowing. I love this place. It’s always the girlfriend my girlfriends deal with. Hell, my night job as a musician is second, even. I need the cave. New York City. Manhattan. The Big Apple. Home. For real. Forever. Love at first sight. I’ll need bigger arms eventually.
But here we are right before Thanksgiving and the holidays are coming, the other ones, the kind where the city gets even emptier than when it’s very empty. It snowed one time I think (unless I was high) during Christmas. Of course, I don’t know what Christmas means really. I am one of those latchkey kids who got the key yanked from his chest by over-qualified analysts. But here they come, again, like it or not. Yikes. And I just got home. My last trip to the United Kingdom and abroad left me wide open to all the news of the world. And yes, yes, I heard all the glorious news as I was away, attentive never, ever, to flip on a television when I travel. It just makes things feel lonelier. It just makes it worse. And I don’t like to stay in touch really. It’s just me. Me and the job. Then, me and home. That is how a lot of people are here in the city I think. Us and our work. Maybe a friend or two. Maybe a place we love to eat (for me it’s Republic … Bladerunner-esque inside, and good vegetarian eats plus counter service to match, and loner-friendly). The world is scaling back. Our money doesn’t match our dreams. And some of those dreams are just to stay in clothes and to have food enough to eat and a roof over your head. And it’s cold outside. Not like I remember though. Not like it was when I first moved here. Still, something is different. Maybe it’s me. I’m 34 now. And I never spend the holidays at home. I’m one of those people who doesn’t go even if the remains of a home exist somewhere. New York protects you from that, too. Holiday Blues. Life Blues. You just hit the streets and find 5th Avenue and the Chrysler or the Empire State Building shine those foggy lights into the near-always daytime sky and — whammo! — you feel something. A closeness. You see others just like you: alone, together-alone, embraced by the walls, inside the gates of a place designed to hold its loners like a lover’s arms, where there are none. Anyway, here come the holidays and the feeling of being trapped, or isolated or even doomed. Well, I suppose if nothing else, the thing to still celebrate, if you don’t know exactly what to celebrate anymore, it is just right there in front of you: the construct of your home. The one outside where you sleep and take the trash out. The park, or the tree in the park someone planted so long ago it’s only there for you to see, that person faded into the swell of time. Economic crisis, climate change, and world drama notwithstanding, this holiday, if nothing else, I will say some silent prayer of consolation that we’re still here. And those who aren’t, those we lost somewhere along the way, if we wanted to or not, we still stand in their light. And it shines outright for anyone with eyes to see, or a heart to know it can expand past the dates and the times that mark the changing of our little worlds. My how they collide, and how precisely. Happy Holidays and see you at the counter, or under the skyline, swooning feverishly.
Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews.