Finding Trouble in New York


8 October 2016

It is a delightful and rainy Saturday afternoon. I am holed up with a relatively benign hangover in someone else’s really rather nice Greenpoint apartment, savoring the joyously pretentious, cliché ridden nature of it all. My buddy from high school is playing old jazz music on a vintage record player, while I’m sitting here, shirtless, unkempt and unbathed, drinking black coffee made using a French Press — insufferable, I know.

There is a girl whom I wish were here, but I won’t specify which, because it’s more fun that way.

I write to you from Brooklyn, which is in New York. I’ve just been told that it is the largest borough in the city, which means nothing to me, given how minuscule my wealth of knowledge is regarding said city’s layout. This is my first time back to this neck of the woods since its notorious transformation into what is now the hipster capital of the country, or at least of the Northeast. I’ve also been told that I would like it here.

Williamsburg is a cool area, as is the rest of the city, although that goes without saying. Obviously, the act of hating on New York can come to one just as easily as loving it (both of which, to be frank, I find myself doing pretty regularly). I can’t help feeling, however, that major cities — very much like people — are generally a great deal cooler when their inhabitants don’t feel compelled to constantly remind everyone of how cool they are.

Don’t get all up in arms just yet, New Yorkers. It’s only food for thought.

Joking aside, I do dig it here; not necessarily because I feel like I fit in, but because it feels like there are enough places and people and things to do for essentially anyone to fit in. For example, it’s refreshing to see a transsexual person walk comfortably down the street, and yet more so to see people of color out in force more places than not. Minorities must be not only present but prevalent in any true metropolis.

My closest friend turns 26 today. He’s had a rough year, that one, but he got through it — as he always does and always will, so long as I have anything to say in the matter. We celebrated by going out with an assortment of folks, and I remember looking over at him for a moment (while he was occupied boozily charming some pretty young thing) and realizing “Holy shit, I’ve been soldiering through life with this kid for almost a decade; and here we are, somehow, still standing”. That was cool.

You’re a good man, Malcolm Dowley.

There are always people to meet up with when you’re here — usually former flings, and usually more than you’re interested in meeting up with. I’ve given up on trying to catch everyone when I’m in town, because I know I’ll be back sooner or later, anyway. A doe-eyed girl with curly brown hair and a very inviting smile asked me last night what my plans are while I’m here, to which I responded that I never make plans while I’m here, because things sort of just end up falling into place and good times are had.

That is nothing but the truth, so why does it still sound so smug and self-satisfied in my head?

Part of the appeal to being in New York, I think, is its unique ability to make you feel like you’re in a movie at any given moment, in any given setting. The city is inherently photogenic, immortally cinematic, and manages in some way to bestow you with those qualities so long as you remain within its vast, yawning metropolitan sprawl. It’s hard to explain, really.

Another friend of mine recently moved here from Austin, a fellow sharply dressed man of color with penchants for good liquor and bad behavior; he seems to be killing it, and is — of that I’m certain. There is something irrefutable to be said for the energy of the Northeast and the purpose which it can inspire in you. Seeing him has been good, better yet has been recognizing how much we’ve accomplished in only a matter of months.

Ours is not a sedentary path, not by a long shot.

The title would suggest that “finding trouble” is, in actuality, the goal of this narrative. In fairness, that has been true of several such narratives past — most of them, if I’m honest. I suppose what has to be the most interesting finding from my latest jaunt in New York is a very conspicuous absence of the compulsion to look for trouble. Strange, I know, but bear with me. There have been old friends and young women and the more than occasional opportunity for mischief unmanaged, but that has not been my concern….

10 October 2016

Well, shit. Looks like I’ll have to amend that statement.

I had to stop mid-sentence because, in the course of trying to indicate personal growth, we all went out drinking on the Lower East Side and I ended up not sleeping for 36 hours. To put it succinctly, I fell on the wingman’s proverbial sword to get Malcolm laid for his birthday by entertaining “the ugly friend”, resulting in over four hours spent warding off very forward advances, eventually culminating in a truly spectacular adult tantrum thrown in less than dignified fashion by said homely acquaintance.

The following morning, I had to literally walk out into the street and stand in front of my bus — Tiananmen Square style — amidst rush hour traffic to make it on the damned thing so I could get home. Having neglected to eat for 30+ hours, I was too hungry to get any sleep on the ride back; and all the while, I maintained a steady equilibrium of aggressive delirium and faint body odor to complement my already woeful appearance.

It gets pretty hard to claim maturity or personal growth under such circumstances.

Maybe trouble isn’t yet completely a thing of the past for me, but it’s starting to become less of a standing presence, I believe it’s safe to say. I’ll freely admit to passing out fully clothed as soon as I got back to Cambridge, sleeping for 20 hours straight, and then groggily rolling out of bed like a rockstar to prepare for starting a new job the next day.

So it turns out — albeit not surprisingly — that New York will always be one of those cities in which trouble goes out of its way to find you; whether you’re actively looking for it or not is irrelevant. For now, though, I’m happy to remain relatively well-behaved slightly farther North. But let’s face it, I am nothing if not a slave to impulse, and trouble will never cease to await that intrinsic servitude a mere five hour bus ride away.

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