I had just moved to New York City all by my big self. I got an apartment in Brooklyn. I worked for a crazy lesbian woman at a design studio in Mid-town, a block from Penn Station. I didn’t fit in. But that had nothing to do with my sexual orientation.
I didn’t like going to work but every day I would walk through Penn Station after getting off the subway. The smell would hit me as soon as the doors opened. It consisted of 2 parts Annie’s Pretzels, 1 part human urine, and 1 part coffee. And I’m shocked right now that I can still smell it. The smell and Penn Station will forever remind me of this time and that song. I’ll need a hell of a lot of overlaps to conquer this memory.
So let’s take a look at my life during the days I spent walking through Penn Station on my way to a job I couldn’t stand, working with people who were on cocaine and brainwashed by a strange, New York phenomenon called The Forum. I was single, 26, and living in New York City by myself in an apartment that might finally break me. I had just gone through a tumultuous breakup. It was the kind of breakup that was best for everyone involved, yet one of the everyone would have like to have had just one more day just to kick the living shit out the person and then walk away. You know, just once. Let’s see, I owed 5,000 dollars to my credit card company (which later, after two years in New York City on a skinny salary, would almost double). I was lonely, but not alone. I was surrounded by people every day, people fighting to get someplace REALLY fast with little regard to many other people trying to get someplace as well. I had friends, new ones and older, wonderful ones. My move to New York was a last ditch attempt to reach my head, I was confused and floundering. And I needed to flounder with other flounders. That’s what New York is sometimes, a place to flounder comfortably by fitting in lonely.
And I would flounder my way through Penn Station, at times, gasping for air. Fresh air. Until finally, after several minutes of walking through hallways, up stair cases, through tunnels, around other people, through the luggage road-block set up by tourists with no place to go to fast, around the Krispy Kreme counter with a line longer than the distance I may have just walked, dodging the guys waiting for the Citibank ATM, and finally funneled into a single-file line just to get to the outside and upstairs by way of an excalator. Like human fish, we were plopped on, sorted out, and moved up and outside for our daily gutting.
Those were the days. I actually miss them. (And I didn’t know it then but I would soon rediscover my head).
(Old 97s: Salome)