I was always afraid of living in New York. It seemed so . . . metropolitan. Although I'm city born and bred, that city was smallish, and since I left it at the age of thirteen I'd lived mostly in towns and backwaters. I'd visit New York but it seemed daunting. If it carried an angel hidden in your cheek, like Garcia Lorca wrote, I didn't find it.
Finally, after all my career options dried up, when I had nothing so I had nothing to lose, I moved there. With a girlfriend into her mother's elegantly disheveled apartment, may both wonderful ladies rest in peace. Eventually, we found a place of our own -- after handing the landlords a bundle of cash under the table -- and though the relationship did not last, mine with the city did for a long time.
Not only did I kick back into the urban mode of my childhood, but I started to pick up the city's ways, which, as everyone in the rest of the country knows, means acting like an asshole, but, hey, when in Rome. By the time I left, thirteen years later, I felt at home, whether sipping cocktails in black-tie at the Pierre or slipping into the dirty basement of the most lowdown bar in the Bronx for other refreshments.
And when, after moving, I would come back, I felt at home again. I guess I always will, even as the city changes, as all places do, particularly one that moves as fast as this one. Still, on a visit, I looked for a neighborhood bar that had opened in my last year here or so, and there it was, crowded, fun -- I like a place where one can have fun alone and without having to talk to anyone -- and with excellent beers and a great plate of moules frites, though no French affectation, the menu just said mussels with fries.
What about Lorca's angel hidden in the cheek of the city of wire and death?
The angel waits for me.