Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Essay 8

[Dad suggested I post some essays I've written for class, and I think it's a good idea. The only writing I do is for class, but I plan on changing that. I wrote this on October 22nd.]

Essay 8

“You’ll really like this,” Gina said. “You talk the same way she does.” She passed Joan Didion’s essay “Goodbye to All That” over the top bunk where I sat with my laptop and lunch.

I was staring out the window, thinking. I could see 33rd Street from where I sat—the legendary Macy’s sign, a street sign boasting “Broadway,” and hundreds of tiny New Yorkers masterfully responding to the glowing white stick men beckoning them forward. I thought of the relative ease with which I’d adapted to the crossroads of the world. I thought of what I’d rather see through my bedroom window. I thought of the boy I would not marry in the spring.

I fell asleep in my first class and barely spoke in the second. People asked me what was wrong, and I did not know. I wondered what it would be like if people expected me not to talk. I considered bailing on my dinner date with Gina; I doubted a trip to Brooklyn would foster peace of mind.

Later that night, we emerged from the Bedford Street subway station, turning our heads from side to side—deciding which corner to turn mirrored a Choose Your Own Adventure, and we relished in it. My eyes widened at the sight of a record store called Earwax Vinyl, and I nearly caused a bicycle crash in my haste to explore it. I’d only made it halfway across the street when the lights went out. The deadbolt turned. The sign changed its mind and told me, “Sorry, We’re Closed.”

“Ooh, major buzzkill!” Gina exclaimed. “It’s just your luck.” I kept my pained agreement to myself.

Gina was on the prowl for genuine red velvet cake, and I figured a bakery selling such was bound to sell something with chocolate and peanut butter. We leapt at the word Café and wandered blissfully into those with curb appeal. We walked into one but were underwhelmed and continued on. Brooklyn is, after all, the New York movies rave about. We knew not to settle.

I felt an immediate connection to Verb Café. Any café named after a part of speech earns a tiny section of my heart. They didn’t have red velvet cake, so we split a piece of chocolate-peanut butter cake. In true wannabe-connoisseur fashion, I took note of their espresso bar. No one understood my delight as I ran my fingers across a gold-plated La Marzocco logo. La Marzocco espresso bars are coffee culture celebrities, but when the cappuccino I ordered disappointed me, my daylong muse on success took a hit like a record takes a scratch. My hope to master this city and culture and career faded gently as the song would, skipping beats in an endearing way. I dread that the endearing will, as a lost lover’s pet name does, eventually grow intolerable.

I wrestled with identity that night. I wondered to what extent I knew Didion’s despair. I wondered if someone will someday remove me from this city—remove me from this Promised Land to all those who wanderlust. I used to know what comes next, but that path was drawn in sand.