Monday rolled around and I wasn’t sure what to do except that I had to do something before the relentless awkward silences between Tyler and I. Luckily, he had some prospective work meetings to hit up so I decided to venture out finally check out the ol’ Statue of Liberty.
The Statue was the only major NYC landmark I still hadn’t seen. My first trip to NY brought me to the Empire State Building (which, though touristy, I highly recommend for anyone’s first trip to the City. The sights are phenomenal in the open air), and I’ve already been to the other landmarks like Times Square and Central Park and some of the major museums. So it made sense to finally put my curiosity to rest and see what that big green dame was about.
When I finally got around to the ferries, I quickly realized that the final one bound for the statue had already left without me. However, the Staten Island ferry would be traveling for a few more hours and was free to ride, so I opted for that. Since I haven’t been to Ellis Isle, I don’t know what it is exactly that I’m missing, but if you’re traveling on the cheap as I’ve been, riding the Staten Isle isn’t too bad at all. You still get a fairly good view of the Statue, plus it’s nice to catch the breeze on there when trying to beat the wicked summer heat. I had some (other) tourists take pictures of me and I took pictures of them, and when it was time to get off on the island, I realized I didn’t have a clue as to where to go. I wandered around for a few blocks and wound up popping in to the first bar I found to unwind with a beer. Somewhat dive-y, full of locals, but nothing to write home about. One down the hatch, and it was time to return to the city.
Back on the mainland, I sent a text out to The DJ. He’d mentioned that he had a weekly gig at a bar in SoHo and that I should come hang out, but knowing him, I wasn’t sure if this was a solid plan or not. There was never a real way of knowing where he’d be. I called Lisa to see if she wanted to hang out in the mean time, and possibly be my date to see the DJ.
“Sure! How about dumplings first?” she suggested. We met up in Chinatown and she took me to Vanessa’s Dumplings where I had quite possibly the cheapest and yet most filling meal of my entire trip thus far. The place was small and simple, with a few picnic tables on the right side and a huge line of poor, hungry college kids on the left, eagerly awaiting the most cost-effective Chinese fare around. I opted for a veggie dumpling, a veggie sesame pancake, and a coke for good measure, all of which set me back about $3. The problem with this place is once you’ve eaten there, you question why food anywhere else will cost at least double that to get you as full as this stuff does. The dumpling was alright, but the sesame pancake was phenomenal. The craziest part is I couldn’t even finish both items – that’s how big the portions are! While eating, Lisa ran in to an old roommate whose name she’d forgotten.
“I’m Pris, and you are?” I ran interference for her.
“Oh, I’m Ned. I used to live with Lisa,” he replied, and went back to his conversation with her. Lisa later told me that Max wasn’t exactly a regular apartment building tenant, but rather that he squatted in the basement of the building along with a few other rotating faces. His girlfriend, whom he didn’t bother to introduce, looked annoyed. We went back to our dishes.
The DJ finally responded to my text, sent me the address for his gig, and told me to meet him there. A knot formed in my stomach. I’d seen him once in the past year when he decided to finally grace Florida with a visit. When we were together, it was like the old times we’ve never actually had.
I guess I should briefly explain the deal with the DJ. We met once via mutual friends when I was 18 after chatting over the phone and internet for some time. One date was all it took, and really, it was all there ever was. One good date to look back on fondly, to keep us together as though we’d someday really have a chance at something we both knew would never work. With all his faults and all his bullshit, I’ve never been able to shake that witty motherfucker out of my subconscious, although I think I may be getting closer with every passing year. We kept in touch more or less via the wonders of Livejournal and AOL Instant Messenger for years after he moved to New York City, leaving me to envy him while I remained stagnant in Miami.
I had a relationship and plenty of pot and he had his adventures and struggles in the city between then and the next time we’d meet, 3 years later. I went to New York shortly after I turned 21 and our moment came again. I wrote a story about it once, about our night in the city and our nights in his apartment, about the Yellow Tail we drank and the American Spirits we smoked and all the vinyl and the pipes above his bed and the girl he was dating that I made him forget because I knew it was our only chance and how it all made so much sense that it couldn’t possibly last. About our sad farewell at the Fung Wah Chinatown bus stop that last night, about not getting over it on the bus ride back to Boston, or on the flight back to Miami, or the subsequent months thereafter. But I was 21 and then life kept happening and I met this wonderful person who I wound up jumping head first in to a relationship with and that was good enough for me. And that girl he’d been casually seeing when I saw him last? He wound up dating her again, for a good 4 years.
I remember feeling jealous that she was able to keep his interest for so long, the one who refused to settle or settle down. But not to my surprise, his relationship tales were never very endearing, and I wasn’t entirely surprised when it finally all came crashing down. And then the danger started because we began to talk, and talk and talk, and suddenly the nostalgia for times never had began to grow again. But nothing would ever come of it because nothing ever will.
Lisa took me on a brief tour of the Village before we heading to the DJ’s gig. She showed me markets and the place where Sally faked orgasms in When Harry Met Sally (Katz’s Deli) and Little Italy and all these other neighborhoods, each distinct in their own way, and we stopped at bars in each so that the knot in my stomach was beginning to feel smaller and smaller. We turned a corner and I could see him standing outside, having a cigarette, the same smile on his face I’d been picturing for years.
“Well, hello!” I said as I walked right up beside him.
“Pris!” he hugged me warmly hello, like a nice, familiar, broken record. I braced myself for the skips.
( To be continued in Part 8… )