lonely lovely city

lonely lovely city

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday On The Hudson

There seems to be that last sunny day in fall where it feels like summer, where the weather tricks you into believing that shorts and flip flops will suffice. I didn't do that, but I saw plenty of people who did on this balmy October afternoon. The bright sun and crisp blue sky felt like a big hug from mother nature.

After my workout at the gym, I fled from the confines of the east village. I headed west with a bag of Scandinavian candy ($12.99 a pound I might add) and a plastic cup of mint iced tea. I walked on Christopher and made my way to the Hudson. It reminded me of my mid twenties when I first moved to NYC in 2000.

During my youth, I couldn't imagine not staying in the west village where every crevice and each street corner felt safe and familiar, where I felt like I was in the center of the universe. It was the quintessential spot for a young, gay man like myself who was struggling to belong. I would roam the streets at night with friends and imagine what it would be like to live in the rows of tony, red bricked townhouses, with their perfect flower boxes and window shutters. My favorites were always Jane, Bank, and west 10th. I recalled thinking that I would be fortunate enough to live in an overpriced, box shaped apartment, and write like Edith Horton and Mark Twain.

I remember being so comfortable then, seen by many, those in my community mainly, feeling like I could assimilate anywhere within those tight streets that crisscrossed into one another. I was like everyone else, I was normal. After twelve years of residing in three boroughs, being in nine apartments, living with inconsiderate, immature, smelly, loud flat mates, dating part-time and temporary lovers, plowing through friendships that came, stayed, and went, employed at more jobs than I care to admit, my loyalty to this beloved neighborhood has faded, and I don't know why. It is painful reminder of how letting go of something, even when you are not aware of it, can effect you.

Much has shifted from my earlier days. The last time I was on Christopher was a few years ago when I had a bad date with a guy I met online. Some of the bars are still there, yet a majority of the bakeries and restaurants I used to frequent have been obliterated and replaced with upscale boutiques and salons and designer food shops.

All of it became so foreign, scary, so overwhelming as I marched through the crowds on each block today as I tried to avoid the obvious and giddy tourists with their paper folded maps as they pointed to Magnolia and Marc Jacobs, as if it was their first time seeing the Louvre. I was determined to see the rippled currents of the Atlantic and breathe in the salted sky, anything of what it was like when I first arrived here, and how this nook in Manhattan meant everything in my life at that time.

The parks have been transformed into beacons of hope for the residents who live nearby. Long gone are the deserted paths where you wouldn't be caught dead past a certain hour. It's all dust. Million dollar, modern sky scrapers dominate the west side highway with newly minted, miraculous piers that stand with their sturdiness and chrome benches along with the large, sterile public bathrooms. After reading a magazine and checking email, I sat on a bench, took pictures, and watched the sun set behind New Jersey with couples canoodling, droves of people from behind the bench, scantly clad, running for life, out of breath, listening to their iPhones, as if they were at a marathon.

I reminisced as each ray of the sun came down, pining for that last bit of indian summer while listening to music on my mobile device. I have to believe that these changes are in fact good, and how the memories of this pivotal time in my life are mine alone, and how they make me the man I am today. And how above anything else, I need to adhere to the subsequent changes that lie ahead, no matter where they wait.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dad In The City

I spent some time this afternoon in a tiny park on the lower east side. It has this massive basketball court and baseball field with a beautiful row of trees that trickle down to SoHo. I usually sit at this bench in front of a gated playground and think with a drink and snack in hand. It is one of my sacred spaces in Manhattan where I go alone to just be. Today was nothing short of beautiful as the wind roared. The sky grew darker as the leaves fell peacefully. A perfect autumn day in the northeast.

After an hour of working on a project, I looked up and began to watch a family. Two little girls, presumably sisters, played together with a stuffed panda doll. They fought shortly thereafter. A handsome, confident tall man appeared out of nowhere and calmed them down with a hug and kiss for each.

He wore a pair of black running shorts with a grey hooded sweater. He looked like he could be in his early forties with buzzed grey hair and lines under his eyes. I don't know what it was, but he seemed like a man with a heart and a good head on his shoulders. His little daughters were screaming, "daddy, daddy, she hit me." Both pointed fingers to the other while two other little boys ran to him with a soccer ball. He began to play with them, throwing the ball back, unaffected by the loud sibling banter as he multi-tasked. This was a father who was at ease and who loved every bit of it. Another boy came from the swings and played with the dad and the little brother. There must have been five children at his side. He didn't lose it once.

The nanny came by and tended to the little girls while the dad laughed and threw ball with his sons. "Come on Dad, throw harder." It was a sweet moment. I felt like a spectator who shouldn't have gawked. It was like I didn't deserve to watch. I immediately thought of a palm reading I had a couple of weeks ago. One of things said to me was that I was meant to be a husband and father of two children. I sat there dumbfounded.

As a single gay man in NY, I am not sure how this could happen. I love children, but as far as I am concerned, my adorable nephews are probably the closest things I have to my own brood. I don't know if that psychic was rattling my chain or being authentic. When I walked home that night, I couldn't help think of it. Could I be a father and a husband? Would it bring me happiness and joy and make my life worth living more?

I still don't know. But, what I do know is that I like stability and when others need me. I can't even begin to imagine the responsibilities surrounded with being a father and how it is a role in life that never ceases. Perhaps I am an idealist, but it is a role I think I could do if I had to. In fact, I would probably be good at it.

The older I get, I realize how important it is to share yourself with someone, to place someone else first, other than yourself. While I hold myself to be fiercely independent, I am also a romantic who wants to share my life and time with those who count. Perhaps this entails a husband and a child, a nuclear family formed out of unconditional love, something that was not present in my own childhood.

As I tried to return to my project, I looked up again. He sat there on the ground, hugging his children, paying attention to them. It was an impressive sight. Here I even didn't know this man and I could feel his devotion by the way he looked and interacted. As I left, I tried to imagine a little child, calling me dad, looking up to me for advice, for care, for love, for food, for attention, for everything really. I got a little sad and scared, but I also didn't ward off the idea, something I probably wouldn't have done a year ago. Until my prince charming comes along and wants the same things, I will settle for the fuzzy, unrealistic notion of being a father, including the ultimate and silly fortune that was bestowed upon me. For now, I'll leave it to fate.