The Strangeness of Living in New York



Neighborhood: Union Square

The Strangeness of Living in New York
Photo by Robert Scoble

I don’t tell people about Jon very often. I want people to get to know me, not feel sorry for me. Last week I was at a friend’s anniversary party and a man who must have been on speed or something like it, talked about the planes hitting the towers. He said that he could see them from his apartment. I asked him to be quiet. He wouldn’t stop talking. He was the reason I left New York. I couldn’t handle assholes that had to impose themselves on me. I wanted to tell people in my own time in my own way. I don’t want people to judge me because my husband was murdered; rather I want people to make their decisions based on Erika, the person. I wanted to say to this man, “Listen, the planes weren’t toys, I know you think you sound cool talking about this and all. But really, you don’t. My husband was killed by those planes. Obliterated into dust. That’s what two thousand degrees centigrade does you know. Or didn’t you? The human body weighs eleven pounds when ashes. I can give you fact after fact if you like. Go on all night. Let’s go.”

I didn’t say any of this–it was my friends’ house, their party and I didn’t want to ruin their night. Turned out they were frightened of him, and worried he might turn violent. That thought never entered my mind. I just wanted to gut him.

The oddest thing happened. I had lunch with a woman, she’s a famous actress. I told her about Jon right away. I told her because she asked. I told her because she wanted to know and could handle the truth. See, that’s the thing. People are different. Although we just met, she was open, honest, and caring. She had a real spiritually to her, and I felt it right away. So I didn’t feel the need to hide. And she said she didn’t feel any different. That’s why I could tell her. She said my spirit was bright. It made me want to cry. It made me miss Jon. I forget sometimes for a moment that he’s gone. Never for long. Just long enough–

So when someone I admire tells me I’m strong, or have a bright spirit, I don’t know what to do with that. My mother says men and women are different. I don’t know about that. I’ve met so many people on this journey of life. Many kind and caring individuals. My mentor, a wonderful poet, said the same thing about my spirit that it was shining bright and I was stronger than most people she knew. “Ha, ha.” I wanted to say. “I am not strong. I want to curl up and disappear. I want to throw myself under a subway and fall into the waves of the ocean.” People see the you that you project. Jon would be happy that I have come out on the other side but it’s hard. I’ve made it through with lots of yoga and support and therapy. Chanting helps me a lot. There’s a man named Krishna Das who I listened to twenty-four hours a day after the fact, and Wah, whose spirit shines brighter than anyone I know. They helped get me through the dark times.

My friend, the actress, asked me if I had read The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. I told her that I had gotten half way through but couldn’t finish it. Even all these years later it’s too hard to read it. The book triggered me so much I was in tears and back to the days after. I couldn’t stand Didion’s pain because it was my pain.

Grief is a tricky thing. 2008 and I am healed and I am still in the days after. People are open and kind and giving. Others are greedy and in their own craziness and destroyers. This is the world we live in. I am glad to be a part of it. I hope Jon is looking down and watching over me.

Erika, a former professional chef, lives in New York with her twenty year old cat Kerouac and is currently working on a book of poetry.

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§ One Response to “The Strangeness of Living in New York”

  • Kate says:

    wow I just read this piece and can’t believe you mentioned Wah! Not only was that
    unexpected but it was synchronicity because I was just writing a piece about seeing
    Wah and Krishna Das at Omega last weekend. Glad you found them helpful and
    healing. I am sorry for your loss.

§ Leave a Reply

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