Last week I wrote about weather, how it affects our lives and how we rely so much on the weather to produce a great experience or how it can manifest into something downright awful. Now that the hurricane is behind us on the east coast, we are now left with the damages…the aftermath. As the news reports continue to come in about electricity being restored, subways beginning to run again and people returning back to their offices. I couldn’t help but think about how we all suffer from some form of an aftermath. Think about it. After a divorce, you have the aftermath of what you are going to do next with your life. A death and you have to deal with the aftermath of grieving and putting your loved one to rest. A loss of a job and you are forced to handle the aftermath by updating your resume and hitting the pavement again. In life, whether it is a natural disaster, a break-up or the loss of something or someone, every single day we have to endure some sort of aftermath. How we chose to handle them is entirely up to us.
It is funny because while New York City is known for their tiny apartments, close quarters and eight million people living on a tiny island; I never feel like I am suffocating. In fact, most of the time I feel as if the city is so huge I will never be able to see and experience it all. However, after last week’s ordeal, I suddenly felt claustrophobic in the city. I needed to get out, I didn’t want to breathe the air or even hear or see another story about the hurricane. Fortunately for me, I had my girlfriend working in my office this past Friday and she was still without power so she was going to go to our friend’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I had power but my apartment was giving me anxiety and the minute she suggested I come with her. I left my desk, rushed to my apartment to pack an overnight bag and came back to pick her up. There was just one stipulation to our journey to Brooklyn and that was the fact that her and I would be walking across the Queensboro Bridge where our friends on the other side would pick us up in their car. It made no sense for them to drive in the crazy traffic to the city to simply turn around and get stuck again. So, as my girlfriend and I walked across the bridge getting yelled at every five seconds from bicyclist (apparently we kept going on the wrong side) we finally made it to the other side.
As we drove to Park Slope, we passed by the gas stations that had lines wrapped around the block waiting to get a gallon of gas. It really was like nothing I had ever seen before and extremely sad. As we were driving, it was there that McSweaty sent an email to me. He was asking how I was doing and what was going on. Of course, it takes a hurricane to have people come out and see how you are doing. I responded and told him that ironically I would be in his neighborhood that night. He said he would love to meet up with my friends and I. I thought how nice it was to get to see him, granted, he is very hot and cold but I have enjoyed our time we have spent together so far. Our friends that we were staying with made reservations at this new restaurant called, Woodland, and boy, was it ever good. Of course, by the time we got to the restaurant I was already buzzed but the food was rather tasty.
When I excused myself from the table to go to the bathroom, when I walked out, there was a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. I had no idea that he was there but he said he had seen me at the table and was going to say hi. I told him that our next stop was going to be this bar called, Sheeps Station. He agreed to join us and I even told McSweaty where we were going to be. McSweaty all night long dangled the notion that we were going to meet up and finally around eleven, his last message was that he forgot he got invited to a birthday party and won’t be able to meet. It was a bad move on his part for after leading me on for most of the night to change his plans, suffice to say it did not boast well with me. I told him to have a goodnight and to not contact me again until he gets his head out of his ass. The rest of the evening was just spent drinking endlessly and somehow, we ended up going to some pool hall called, Ocean’s, where we watched our friend’s try and play pool. As I looked at my watch and noticed that we were all fading and it was almost 2 am. We called it a night and got in a town car to take us back to our friend’s apartment.
Once we got back to my friend’s apartment, they had asked us earlier in the evening before dinner, if we could help them take a mattress down to the street so they could get rid of it. Turns out, there is a law in New York that you must have your mattresses wrapped in plastic before the trash collectors will remove it. So, now I am drunk, it is cold and 2:30 in the morning and we are all trying to wrap a tarp around a mattress. It was not our finest work and turns out, we were so out of it that we couldn’t even wrap it. So, instead, I am carrying this mattress around the corner with a friend and dumping it in front of a preschool. Again, not my finest moment but I was too tired and drunk to give a shit. Got upstairs, changed and got into the fold-out couch and passed out next to my girlfriend.
My girlfriend and I both got up early in an effort to get back to the city and miss the traffic. We found a town car that was free to pick us up in ten minutes. So we both took a quick shower, packed it up and got in the car and on our way back as we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge, we saw the city slowly but surely coming back to life. Once we entered the lower east side, you could see the deli’s starting to clean-up, people taking down the boarded up windows to their homes and store fronts. Of course, since most of downtown had received their power back on Saturday, I was sure that most people would be inside their heated apartments taking a million showers and turning on every light they could just because they had been without for so long. When the car dropped me off at my apartment, I was looking forward to some solitude. I did the laundry, finally worked out and even took a nap. When I woke up from my nap, I saw a group text message from a friend that was craving a margarita. Of course, the message sparked a few of us to pick a place, time, etc. We agreed to meet at, Boxers first and go from there. As soon as I got there, I was the first to arrive, so I ordered a beer and sat there by myself. I actually didn’t mind it at all. Then the location changed and we went from a bar to a restaurant. My friend wanted to meet at, Rosemary’s, in the West Village. I had been dying to go there, it is always packed and seeing that it was only 5 o’clock in the afternoon, it shouldn’t be so bad. Turns out, it was empty and perfect for all of us. Truth be told, I was saving going to this place for an actual date. It is such a great spot but seeing that there are no dates in the foreseeable future, I decided to meet up with the crew. The minute I sat down, ordered a red wine and took my first sip, I told myself that while this may not be a romantic date, I somehow became so lucky to have five wonderful dates sitting at the table with me.
As the wine continued to flow, the weather getting colder and the day turning into night; it was time to pick our next stop. We all decided on hitting up the old time bar, The Monster. We ordered some beers and just enjoyed the conversation. We didn’t stay there too long (or maybe we did, I was losing track of time) but before I knew it. We were in a cab heading to my friend’s apartment for snacks and of course…more to drink. I think the past week of bad food and our drinking bender’s had finally all caught up with us. It was barely midnight before we were all saying goodbye, blowing air kisses to each other and all going back to get some rest. I got a cab on the corner of 25th and 8th Avenue and as the cab driver drove through lower Chelsea, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate I am to live here. I have witnessed a city where you didn’t walk down to Alphabet City to where it is trendy now (well, maybe not now), to 9/11, the Blackout and several other shattering experiences. The one thing that remained consistent throughout these events was how we all come together. This city has such a bad reputation for being rude and obnoxious. The only time I really ever feel that way about New York is when I am standing in line at Duane Reade and the cashiers are always inconsiderate. Aside from that, there are rude and obnoxious people everywhere, but this city will always help a tourist when they need directions, will always put loose change in someone’s cup when they need it and will rarely turn the cheek when they see something is not right.
I decided to spend yesterday doing something that I don’t let happen that often; I spent it alone. No drinking, no eating bad food but it was just me reading, watching bad TV and writing. I can’t speak for all my friends but I think we all needed some time apart from each other to decompress and miss each other all over again. I think like most of us on the east coast, we were all looking forward to going back to work and getting back into a normal routine.
This morning on my way to work, I was thinking about what to write and how I wanted the day to go. I walked up to my regular morning coffee cart right on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 52nd Street when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around, with my coffee in my hand and there he is: Jeff. He was literally my very first boyfriend I had ever dated when I moved to the city. When I met him, I was barely 18 and he was 33 years old. It was wrong for us to even date but he was the first person to pay attention to me while I had a mouth full of braces. We dated for three years, lived together, traveled the world and even got a dog together. When I left him in 1999 after finding out he had been cheating on me while I was at work, I vowed to never see him again. And for the past 13 years, I had managed to keep that vow until now. When he said hi to me, my hands literally gave out, they went numb and so my hot cup of coffee fell and it didn’t hit the ground but my shoes. As he went to the coffee cart to grab napkins, I was bent down trying to gather my thoughts. As I wiped off my shoes, we moved to the side of the coffee cart. The good thing about this situation was that he had aged, hair was grey and his wrinkles were rather deep. He told me that I looked good and that I hadn’t really aged at all and as he was saying that; there it was. A gold wedding band on his left ring finger that was so blinding that I was desperately wishing I had been wearing my sunglasses. He could tell that it caught my attention and so he let it out. He told me that after I left him, he met this guy and they have been together ever since. They recently got married and bought an apartment together in Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn (the exact part of town that we used to live in). I asked him what he was doing in this neighborhood and he said he is a VP now for some company and they have a meeting here but that he mainly works in Union Square. As he went on and on about work and his life all I could think was, “Please don’t ask anything about my love life or I will run across the street even if there is oncoming traffic.” All he asked me was if I was still pursuing my writing and I was glad that I was able to answer that with confidence. Before he even had a chance to ask me anything personal, I told him I was on a deadline and that I really needed to get my ass in front of a computer. He told me that it was great to see me and went in for a hug but my body wasn’t allowing it and so I stuck out my hand, the hand that doesn’t have a ring on it and shook it with as much pride as I could muster up. I walked across the street and congratulated myself on how I handled that entire situation. Yes, my shoes might smell like Folders coffee and yes, I did get a few bombs dropped on me left and right but then I thought that maybe the aftermath of me leaving Jeff was in turn him meeting his future husband and living a wonderful life. We were never right for each other, regardless of how it ended, and in turn the universe brought him his husband. Of course, it would be better if I had also been married, a thriving career and a town house on Perry Street but he doesn’t know that and for all he knows I do have all of those things.
Ok. So it wasn’t the perfect way to start my week but it did give me plenty to think about. As we all get back into our normal routines here on the east coast, it is now time to focus on the present and the future. We have a lot of rebuilding to do and thankfully we have a ton of support to do so. We also have to make sure that tomorrow we all vote for the right person to make this country a better place (we all know who that is, don’t make me write it out). Aftermaths come at us all the time. Sometimes we are prepared for them and other times they come from out of the blue. Again, it is how we handle our aftermaths that will in turn give us the results we so desire. This week, take responsibility for every action you do. From voting, volunteering, work, school and even relationships and every time you do so, ask yourself; “How do I want my aftermath to turn out?”
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