The Reality of My Regression



1st Ave & E 7th St, NY, NY 10003

Neighborhood: Lower East Side


It is the last day of the year at 8:30pm. I have just finished vacuuming, changing the sheets, and spraying the duvet with “Sweat Pea” pillow spray to make everything clean, cozy and refreshing on this wintry cold night. Tonight I am at home and alone, happily so, dancing around my apartment with dust rag in hand to the sounds of “Garbage” and Al Green. Tutto bene.

Last year, the New Year’s Eve that harbored Nostradamas-inspired fears of ceasing computers causing the inevitable implosion of our world taught me one thing and one thing only. On that night, the last night of the year, as I pondered the myriad roads of the year to come, I made a vow to myself that I would start the year afresh, with little-to-no tolerance for bullshit or insignificant ongoings. I would attempt to fill myself up with redeeming activities; and even though I pursued few cultural events in the city, I’d enriched myself through personal experience and via the people’s minds I chose to get inside of (with the occasional frivolous rockin’ good time thrown in for good measure). Henceforth, I had a very productive, rewarding, sexy, adventurous year of growth—cultivating a sense of personal calm that I had never known before.

It’s great, I am not sad or bummed to be at home tonight. I’ve got smokes, vanilla yogurt, three organic carrots, iced tea, an orange, music, heat and my thoughts. Ah to be contented by so little. Jeez, am I truly an adult? Thank God, yes thank you God, for bringing me to this page in the book of my life.

Alas, the phone rings. It is Jacob. Then it’s Ariel. They want to party down. Hmmm. Fight the elements, stand on a corner, try to hail non-existent taxicab? Get drunk and stoned? Celebrate the ringing in of the New Year with my friends? Is this where I want to be? (Maybe not the worst thing, Ali. Lighten up.) Part of my apprehension is the why bother? factor. I am listening to “The Sundays” and I feel right at home. Yes, excellent, this is your home! Revel in it. It’s so bloody cold out there too. I feel torn. I even called Nick, but hung up on the answering machine.

The fact that everyone is out there partying is something I am tuned into. I could be very content with a hearty bowl of New England clam chowder; yet I feel disturbingly aware that I am not getting all-fabulous to go out and rock. Why can I not just be content with my initial desire to sit home and do very little? I hate expectation, especially when I impose it upon myself. I am listening to The Stones and getting kind of revved up, and wouldn’t mind being at a rock’n’roll bar someplace local. So I just left word with Nick’s pager messaging system.

“Are you getting drunk at 7B? If so, I’m local. You can call me. Ali.”

Yeah, that’s what I feel like doing. Being world-weary and drinking beer with a person from whom I can (with no cause for explanation) walk away at the end of the night, if I feel like it.

I need to spring into action and get dressed. I could go out in sneakers. I’d like that, but knowing me, once I get rolling, it’ll be a whole outfit, and then the goddamn concern with my aching feet, the slushy streets. Oh the horror, the horror, said my inner-Kurtz. I guess I should get it together and just go out and have some fun. That I have spent the entire weekend swimming in my own river, evenly, relaxed and content, says a lot to me.

The day after; January 1, 2001

So I ended up going out, and had an amusing time. Met Ariel and John Sebastian for beers at the Music Bar on 1st and 7th. They were on ecstasy, and he looked like something out of Trainspotting or Blade Runner—mohawk, roaring 20’s-style fur coat, black leathers spattered with gunk on the ass, and a tight yellow and blue marimekko-inspired, polyester, short-sleeved shirt. Ariel was feeling “wicky wicky,” as she calls it, and couldn’t hang for too long inside due to onset of drugs, even though the scene at the bar was exactly what I was looking for.

Got cab (easily) to the LES, where we went to a party on Norfolk Street, near the Angel Orsantz synagogue where annoyed one-hundred dollar-paying partygoers complained from out on snow-covered sidewalk about absurd waiting time…we effortlessly cruised indoors to our (free) party next door. Once inside, we hung our coats, and I be-lined for an armchair where I parked my unenthusiastic ass, and proceeded to roll joints. We smoked and passed ‘em, and bopped to the tunes, and the energy in the room began to ignite, to get hotter, as the 12-midnight hour lurked nearer.

“Twelve minutes,” yelled out John, whose apartment it was. He’s a photographer, talented, with lots of good, warm energy and mind-tricky works. I was staring at a monochromatic-blue enlarged photo that looked like it could have been taken underwater at the Great Barrier Reef; and was happily stoned to learn that it was an incredibly long exposure of kids in a nightclub under a pulsing blue light.

“Eight minutes ‘til midnight,” screamed out Marcy, a chick with a blonde mane of hair in a 1960’s-era chignon—half upswept a la beach blanket bingo. She was friendly enough, but looked pale, perhaps it was the champagne, perhaps she was being strangled by her very short, tight black skirt…we rapped, danced some, a lezbo thing crossed my mind, just a fleeting thought.

“Two minutes ‘til midnight,” smiled out Ariel, stoned on the pot I brought, swirling on e.

Having gone out—in the first place—against my true desire, I was not as pumped as the other kids at this soiree, and felt rather uninspired to party with the masses. So during to the last 60 seconds of the year 2000, I sashayed over to the bathroom. It was there that the reality of my regression of being at this place set in. The pipe-heater that extends from floor to ceiling with its peeling fiberglass insulation and need for a good scrubbing at its base where all the muck collects was just like the one in my old Christopher Street apartment. (Bathroom muck—so five years ago.) The revelers counted it down, making merry, twirling loud crankers, blowing paper noise makers, jumping up and down—strangers colliding with glee in the comforts of somebody else’s apartment.

“Happy New Year,” thumped the communal voice from the living room where they had been crowded around the Sony watching the Ball drop in Times Square. I heard them loud and clear, from inside the loo, where I smiled, applied a light dusting of powder, and re-entered the party, my first footsteps into the New Year.

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