Let me paint you a picture, my comrades:
Still jet-lagged since my departure from LA-LA Land half a week ago, every ungodly hour of the morning, I’ve been treading my home ground of Man’s-Hattan on foot: either in running shoes or 6-inch heels. Whenever reuniting with my people here, I observed their beloved faces, blotchy-red and frozen, emerge from the ice-covered cabs or appear from behind the swamp-green gates of the Subway. They defrosted their bodies in my embraces; their darling hands—on cups of hot water and coffee or while groping tea lights at perpetually packed bars; and injected their blood with red wine: anything to escape the cold.
“What do you mean: You’re walking?” they lisped when saying their goodbyes outside, droplets of their breath freezing on every syllable and hitting the pavement between us like hail. Then, they ran for cover while I watched the City eat up their bodies. Oh how many of my loves this Island has swallowed! Despite the MAN in its name, this City must be a woman—a woman of exceptional beauty, with a boudoir full of addicting potions and perfumes and custom-made, designer frocks. It took the Bitch less than 48 hours to enter my system, and before I had the chance to miss the vast real estate of the West Coast—She was in my blood stream. So, how can I possibly blame my beloveds for committing to Her for life?
But this morning, the temperatures dropped even more:
“How do you like me now?” the indifferent Bitch arched her eyebrow at me.
Oh, but I do! I do.
This morning, while my host was still stretching her model-esque Mediterranean body in bed next to me, I took off—in my pink-and-silver running shoes and my Little-Red-Riding-Hood hat. (In my defense, the rest of me was still clad in black!) Past the pale and ghostly faces of the natives I jetted, still immune to the cold treatment by the Bitch. An occasional dog-owner trotted past me, dragging his or her animal’s frozen corpse through the snow. No other jogger was anywhere to be found. My toes tapped along the Island’s brown skin—”I-do, I-do, I-do”—never slipping on any traps of black ice or dog shit. I flew, utterly in love with my old flame. Accidental pedestrians looked at me askance: “She must insane.” But they’re used to oddities around here, and I am finally grown-up enough to not mind being one.
My breakfast? A shot of nuclear, jet black espresso and a granola bar laced with dark chocolate—the pleasure of the minimum. As I strutted down 7th Ave., I chomped down my breakfast of champions with utter satisfaction and stubborn joy. A brown man at a bus stop faced North, and, after noticing my inconvenient intrusion on his privacy, mumbled to himself. Oh you, another sufferer, an incident away from loosing your shit—never mind me! I took the last mighty bite out of my bar (or rather shoved one-third of it into my mouth, smearing its chocolate on my lips and chin).
“You’re very beautiful, ma’am,” the stranger suddenly spoke up, traces of old-fashioned grace and Southern accent reigning over his vocabulary. This entire time, he must’ve been mumbling to me!
Startled, I covered my mouth with my mitten, and struggled to relieve my tongue from the grainy texture. “Shank you,” I manage to say.
The brown stranger nodded, in seemingly sincere awe, and when I passed him, said: “Oh my god: Beauty.”
This—was the first flirtation I’ve encountered here. So bogged down by hard life, poor diet, lack of time and space the men of the Island appear, none have made a pass at me so far. There’ve been a few arousing and mysterious glances from the tall, dark strangers in bars; but no phone number requests—or offers. Even to catch a cab, my unbuttoned coat and exposed leg no longer did the trick: I’ve had to leap under its wheels, Anna Karenina style, in order to hail one.
(Just the other day, I’m on Lex and 45th, when the Bitch decided to jumpstart a snow flurry.
“Need a ride?” a sickly looking driver of a yellow cab asked through the rolled-down window. I considered for a moment and nodded. Fuck it: Let’s party it up, even if I am only four blocks away.
“Where to?” he asked me once I situated my floor-length black coat on his back seat.
His eyes, under an awning of a uni-brow, examined me in the rear-view mirror for a moment, and then he said: “No.”
“‘Cuse me?” I couldn’t believe the fucker! He picked me up!
After another moment of silence and another glare, he negotiated: “Twenty dollars then.”
Half-a-blink of an eye—and V’s new-agey, Californian pleasantries evaporated: “Fuck you: I’ll walk!”)
But the brown stranger this morning made me fantasize about the possibility of dating in New York again. I’ve thought about it, and to quote the uni-browed taxi driver, I must say: “No.” Even though back in LA-LA, I’ve often been guilty of being that ass-hole New Yorker reminiscing about the City she left behind, I would not want to be single in Manhattan. Besides the lack of personal space, overcrowded commute, miniscule apartments and lack of sanitary bathrooms in which to fix one’s make-up, I would not be able to put up with the competition. By that, I don’t even mean competition with other women. I mean: Competition with the Island—the Bitch of my own bitter-sweet addiction. Surviving Her is difficult enough, for either gender. But if I had to figure out how to notice a Nice Guy in a unanimously black-clad crowd, or in an overstuffed restaurant; or how to read him past the stress lines and the furrowed brows; or how to decipher a flirtation in an innocent greeting or a rare compliment—I would most likely lose my mind. But then, again: I don’t mind being odd.