The Unbearable Banishment: <i>I met my old lover on the street last night</i>

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I met my old lover on the street last night

I went into the city for the first time since being commissioned for a freelance project in New Jersey over three weeks ago. I hadn't been away from New York for that length of time since I was in my 20's. Take it from me pallies, that was a long time ago.

I was worried that something might have changed. That suddenly, New York and I weren't an item anymore. I was afraid of long, awkward silences and uncomfortable truths that might be revealed. Working close to home has its charms. It affords some important things that cannot be had when I work in the city. Sometimes, shiny toys lose their luster when you don't play with them for a while. From a distance, you begin to wonder what you ever saw in them in the first place. Sometimes, you have a change of heart.

I timidly walked out of the subway at 50th Street and Broadway.

It was like seeing an old friend you've been worried sick about. Hello, 7th Avenue! Did you miss me! (Yes, she did.) My feet missed the sidewalks. My senses missed the disharmony. It was the first time I noticed how odd the mounted NYPD look strolling up an Avenue.

* * *

I saw David Mamet's Race. Full disclosure: I think Mamet is a great writer and am predisposed to liking his stuff before the house lights dim. I sat next to a black couple and I suppose the fact that I squirmed in my seat over the racial issues that were addressed is an indication of how expertly constructed the dramatic arc of the story was. And it was surprisingly funny. The entire cast is killer, especially James Spader.

Race is at the Barrymore, which was built in 1928 and has a rich past. At the same theater in 1992, I saw Jessica Lange struggle (and fail) to play Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. She couldn't keep up with Alec Baldwin's Stanley Kowalski. He wiped the stage with her. In 1948, on the exact same floorboards, the play was premiered with Marlon Brando as Kowalski. I love history stuff like that.

* * *

I walked into the subway to catch a downtown train. Someone was playing a trumpet. I threw $1 into his case. Subway stations have perfect acoustics for horn instruments. There's just enough echo. He was so talented. A great musician. He played a rich, soulful rendition of Erroll Garner's Misty and then a version of Johnny Mercer's Laura that broke my stupid, stupid heart. And I felt at home again.

And you see Laura
On a train that is passing through.

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Anonymous nursemyra said...

*sigh* you really do make me yearn for New York

February 7, 2010 at 1:38 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

i NEED a getaway weekend in nyc! nurse myra is right, sugar, *sigh* xoxoxo

(good thing the game starts in 10 and half hours!)

(the party has already started here!)

February 7, 2010 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Pueblo girl said...

"And I felt at home again" resonates strongly. Epiphanies of connection.

February 7, 2010 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

I'm glad you got to see your old friend and all is well with you and her. Does your wife get jealous of the two of you?

February 7, 2010 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is a tunnel from o'hare airport to the hilton. used to be a guy blowing a tenor sax down there... he got some of my cash every time. magic sound in the tunnels...

glad that the thrill is still there.

February 7, 2010 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: You've lived here before. You've taken a bite already. You know what it's like.

Savannah: A weekend would be just about perfect. Any longer than that and you risk revealing the ugly truth.

PG: It's hard to find your heart's home but once you do, you never really relocate. New Jersey? A choice of necessity.

Cat: To her credit, if Mrs. Wife is jealous, she doesn't guilt-trip me about it. It was part of the Grand Compromise of 2000. I leave my home in the city for the suburbs and children, but I get to occasionally indulge myself. It's an important part of my life and I need it. It could be worse. I'm just sitting in theaters. It could be whiskey, gambling and whores.

Daisy: It seems to me that talent can sometimes be a curse. You're an accomplished trumpet (or sax) player but you have to resort to playing for tips. Thank Bog I have no talent.

February 7, 2010 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous sid said...

Did you take the B&W photo of NY? Loved it. New York ... One day ... One day ...

February 8, 2010 at 3:18 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

You made it there.

February 8, 2010 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sid: I did, indeed, take the pic. Thanks! I converted it from color to B&W in Photoshop.

Ellie: The old saying is that if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere. The truth is that a lot of us make it here because we are incapable of making it anywhere else!

February 8, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
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