“They say that the neon lights are bright on Broadway…”
There’s something magic about the smell of the city, and as I prepare to go home for a few days (the 16-19th) I breathe in the smell, or at least my nose starts playing tricks on me while I’m walking around Buffalo in anticipation of getting on the Airplane and heading towards home, anxious, cautious. I can smell cigarettes and vodka and cologne and the smell of street carts selling everything from Hallal and Kosher Food to Vegetables and freshly picked Fruits and these smells that fill my nose bring back memories that are incredibly vivid…the boys walking down Eighth Avenue towards The Village, their jeans so tight, their underwear bands rising just slightly out from behind as to display the brand and the cut of cloth. So gorgeous, walking so confidant…so unsure of themselves, so uncomfortable in their skin. Subways so familiar to me, taking me around The City, this city that was such an integral part of correcting my High School mis-education. There’s a conflagration of people, all unique and as I walk by apartment buildings I can’t help but think about what must be going on in them…who’s breaking up with whom? Who’s fucking their wife…and who’s fucking the maid while their wife’s at work? A writer’s paradise, it’s enough to break even the warmest heart.
My Mother asked me, once, how I could possibly leave the greatest city in the world to go to the Middle East…how I could leave this city that has Jazz clubs and coffee bars and a music and a rhythm that you can feel through your feet. This city that so many people aspire to go to, actors in the country dream of when they can live in a flat and ‘make it’ as Gay High Schoolers who go to school in the middle of cornfields yearn for the day when they can head to Lure Bar or the Dugout or XL depending on their tastes and just what kind of sex they’re looking for. A city where the Puerto Rican’s move their hips at the clubs as if they would only live through the night and sunrise was coming soon and this was their last dance ever and they were dancing it with you.
The Italians lean on chairs outside of their buildings, their T-Shirts off, and sweat running down their abs, dog tags hanging, tempting, through a V made by their pecks and a five o’clock shadow gracing their face as they take a drag on a cigarette…one puff after the other…
…it’s for the same reason that my Twin and I would look at each other quizzically as children and wonder why anyone would be excited about winning a trip to New York City on a quiz show…it’s here…it’s 30 minutes by train and fifteen minutes (if I drive…) from my parent’s house on The Island. I stopped thinking of that house as mine after my Father tried to kick me out of for the fourth time in five years because he was being manic again and took it out on me…that’s when I began to think of it more as a vacation property with a train track view despite the wonderful exterior.
And it’s for so many more things…because English can express love only so far, because the unknown is exciting…and because there’s no blank space left on maps so you have to travel to areas that are, at the very least, unpredictable if you want to explore. The City has rhythm, a regular beat, a pulse…the trains operate on schedule, and the predictable chaos keeps the world (because as any true New Yorker will tell you, usually in an accent that’s not quite ‘New York’ yet, but getting there… we are the center of the universe) going in a predictable order, with a conductor in tails that we haven’t quite managed to find yet. It goes on, preachers sit in pews until the sun shines through stained glass windows as they pray for people down the avenue who are having parties, with coke lined mirrors and baskets of condoms…and to be fair, they pray just as hard for the two male lovers in the apartment complex uptown, as they fall asleep in each others arms…one stressed out by the weight of the world, the other grabbing him, and wrapping him in his muscular arms, not letting him get up, though he struggles, saying “we’ll deal with it, together, in the morning…go to sleep…go to sleep…”
The world goes on, and everything has a pulse. The chef’s are out at the docks early in the morning getting the fresh catch for their restaurants, politicos are arriving in Union Square a little after noon (they’re bohemian dammit!) protesting against the same thing they were protesting for just a few weeks ago. Chess boards sit ready to play in Bryant Park and Strand’s about to get an up-and-coming author to speak in just a few days and the employees are a titter with excitement…this rhythm weaves itself into the lives of everyone who’s a New Yorker whether by birth, by immigration or by heart.
Broadway shows are at rehearsal in the mornings and are performing for eager audiences waiting on the edge their seats in the evenings…boys and girls crowd the stage door to see if that hot actor will sign his autograph for them as they both swoon for him, together, as they head home and each imagine themselves being wrapped in his arms.
Cab drivers play ping pong with pedestrians and at JFK airport whistles are blowing as Traffic Cops are telling you to ‘move along, move along, move along’ and airport workers shout “MOVE THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY” as the locals heading out on business reply “I’M WALKIN’ HERE!” as they race with luggage from all directions and groups of students are walking through the Natural History Museum learning about Evolution…shhh…it’s turning into a dirty word these days, everyone hates progress it seems…and two guys at Penn Stations are discussing the hot police officer’s ass and wondering if he’s from Huntington or Hicksville…they eventually agree on Huntington as the sign in the waiting area starts to flicker announcing the track for the outbound Port Jeff Off Peak train…and they run to board as if they were being chased by that bull market they just left…so they can go home, relax with a highball, lay with each other, and head to bed.
Everything so fluid, that whenever I come home, I feel like I’ve never left…until I see a new face at the Deli in Union Square or my favorite Sex Store (it’s the one on Eighth Ave near 23rd if I recall correct)…and then I begin to see the changes, and I feel slightly sad…did they move? Get a new job? Get fired? Are they happy where they are?
I’ll never forget some of the people that I met, and others I wish I could forget as images of boys living on the streets, emaciated as AIDS tore apart their body as hunger tore apart their hope, these are the images that haunt me in my dreams and scare my Mother more than any Terrorist can…because if I’m killed by terrorist she can take out the righteous rage of a mother scarred on them…if I were to contract the disease that has removed the word ‘positive’ from my mothers vocabulary like the worst of epithets that she dare not pronounce lest she should bring down the evil eye upon our family…she would have no one to yell at.
She’s scared for me, for my ‘lifestyle’ and no, it isn’t because she doesn’t accept me…I never gave my parents the choice not to accept me and even if I did they wouldn’t take it. It’s because all she wants for me is to be happy, to find someone to love and to live life with to the fullest. The word which she dares not pronounce, I shout from the rooftops because I’m that asshole that places ACT UP, FIGHT BACK stickers on every door and seat that I can while I’m down there, and I’m the asshole that razors them so it’s harder to remove them too…because to fight a war you have to use some guerilla tactics…because as someone whose HIV negative it takes a lot of work to convince friends and family member to fight HIV and AIDS and not the people (like your friends) who have it.
And as these thoughts of comfort in chaos (because they’re familiar to me and what I grew up with and familiar actions and mental paths) come back to me, I eventually have to transport my thoughts back to Buffalo, to the present because I’m not in New York yet and I see so many of my fellow students…my peers, making jokes that they use because they can’t express their real fears: because if they vocalize them, then they’re making them real. They don’t know how they’re going to make a living. They’re scared that they won’t be a success. And for many, I don’t think that they’ve stopped to think “what is success to me?” but rather still measure themselves by what their parents tell them they have to be.
A Job? Wealth? Regular Sex? Being Happy? Getting out of whatever town they were born in? Working to live and living to work? Not a choice we can make for each other but one we eventually have to decide for ourselves.
I’m often made fun of recently because I haven’t had sex recently…but I don’t play by the rules…I can be getting railed by a model, a jock, a firefighter – with the suspenders and pants on – and it wouldn’t mean a damn thing if I didn’t have a mental connection with them, so I sometimes play with the notion of fighting those windmills that double as dragons (sneaky bastards that they are) and going out to make some kind of conquest of a man, to go out and find or fight for a shag…but it just doesn’t make sense…Sex is the median, the middle, and no where near the peak of the ‘game’ it’s the interlude that comes before the love…
First it starts with seduction, a mental spark, chaos, a banter, a discourse riled with double entendres and soaked with innuendo, which eventually progress to a physical manifestation, a slap on the ass, a bite on the shoulder, a lick of his stubble, feeling, and tracing of the hands as lips make contact…and then comes in the hour to an hour and a half of sex…which ends, exhaustedly, in blissful conversation as he lights up a cigarette and I stare at him and make a mental painting of his gorgeous body, the muscles in his back, as he’s now in underwear, draped with the sheet over his lap, with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth, sitting on the edge of our bed, in our bedroom, before he putts out the stub in the ash tray that I put there for him, rolls back over, puts his arms around me as I feel his muscles come up tight against me and we talk for hours while we hold each other tightly…as we prepare to eventually go to bed…this is the kind of relationships I’ve had, and enjoy and require…sex is a dime a dozen, but someone who can discuss Kafka and Kant and who will at least listen patiently to me as I wax eloquent about Semantic Shifts, and Nasalization and Devoicing and the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis because even though they don’t know what I’m taking about they are happy it makes me excited so they put up with it as I put up with them trying to constantly re-explain why the hockey puck doesn’t make field goals or home runs…those people are a gift…so I find it far more thrilling to find them as I always do…by accident, than to get my hopes up in the pursuit of conquest.
Interview from starbuckx:
1. You have the chance to interview one person in the world. Who do you pick?
2. If you could have a do-over, would you use it to change something in your past, or hang on to it, in case you need it in the future?
I wouldn’t use it in the past or in the future, it would affect the time space continuum and that could have terrible, terrible consequences. It’s better to just learn from your mistakes and not make them again and learn how to move on.
3. You’ve got tickets and a backstage pass for a concert, and you’re very excited. Who’s playing?
Nine Inch Nails. Trent better keep his hair short for me…and if he were single at the time, all the better =P
4. Name three comfort foods.
Black Coffee, Altoids (I have an oral fixation that comes out hard core when I’m stressed), The Margie Meal at Amy’s Place.
5. Favorite toy as a kid.
My stuffed Eeyore (I still have him).