Saturday, October 20, 2007

This was written by a friend of a friend, about there experience in NYC this summer(2 suburban Manahattan kids from CT). Since my Move to NYC is fast approaching; stories like these, and those of of Meredyth and Aja, who recently fled NYC- I am filled with a sad forboading.

While working in the NYC Art scene has been my dream since I was 14 - part of me wonders if NY might be sad repeat of my experience in Glasgow. A sad reminder of the dark, gloomy nights and days in cramped quarters, trapped by my lack of possibilities that having no money brings.

If I went back to DC or stayed in Savannah I know I'd be just as miserable if not more so - at least if I went to NYC I'd be working towards a goal I've always wanted!

Are a sad few years worth the possibility of 'making it'? Or is this just an optimistic pitfall?!

Any advice or words of encouragement?

One Hundred Twenty Third
By Rin Ascher

I imagined high ceilings and hardwood floors for my glamorous life as an adult. I was going to go to New York and be somebody. I was going to spend my mornings elbow deep in ink and be greeted by the easterly sunrise. At night I would beat the sidewalk into submission beneath my Converse sneakers, with my camera and my impatient heartbeat. There would be no part of the city that I would not embrace, twisting in a freaky slow dance until it was bright again. I was told by the faceless authors of my youth that New York City was where the outcasts were ordinary, and that much was true. So ordinary in fact, that I fell beneath the sharp, name brand heels of the “elite”.

The summer was to be spent with my best friend, Ian Aleksander Adams. He was a lanky boy of twenty-one, with girl’s glasses and cutoff shorts. We’d known each other since we were freshmen in high school, and we shared a similar dream of New York and bohemia. He was a photographer interning for a high end fashion company on the Upper West Side, which is why we moved to Harlem. We were both struggling artists, trying to make our way in the world. We had only enough money to share a room, and in this case, a bed as well.

“You’re not together …but you share the same bed?”

“Well, yeah. We’re poor.”

“….But you’re gay, right?”

“Well, yeah. But it isn’t like that.”

It was difficult for some people to understand.

We had one big window. We also had a hardwood floor, but our apartment was a hallway. In the tiny kitchen there was one flickering light that would, later, invoke the feeling of suffocation and paranoia.

We were intrigued by the immediacy of everything. Here was the cultural center of the United States. If we wanted something, anything, we could find it here.

The city that had set stars in our eyes years before was now a horny, horrible cage. The thunderous subway cars speeding blindly through the dark were tedious instead of exciting. I’m sure that the gnawed fried chicken bones and tumbleweeds of dark African hair, from the hair salons, had always littered the sidewalks, but we didn’t notice until there was no hope of leaving.

I’m not sure I can say what changed our minds.

I had felt such an amiable nature here, years ago. The faces of the people were turned up and smiling. Lovers whispered heatedly on quiet train cars. Rain, when it fell, was an occasion shared by everyone who was alive.

"Don’t take this for granted”, said the rain. “Nobody deserves this moment more than you.”

Ian lost his internship, and his days were spent in an alcohol-drenched depression. He hung around our room like a ghost: half alive. He didn’t want to go out anymore. His nails grew, and were blackened with the grime of time passed, while he was unaware.

Ian packed his things and took a plane to Israel for a week. He got to go for free through a program called Birthright Israel, because he was Jewish.

Things weren’t much different for me while he was away. I spent most of my waking hours in the basement of the Time-Warner building, ringing up organic food for women with tiny, hideous, dogs in their purses.

Every single day, as I went to work, I would think about all the most painful and creative ways to kill myself. I imagined throwing myself in front of the train, but I knew I had to be careful because sometimes it approached too slowly. If I jumped then I would be horribly mangled but not killed.

By night I was slowly piecing together a portfolio for art school. I was trying to get a scholarship to put myself through college. I kept it a secret, so if I didn’t get to go nobody would be disappointed.

The people, who seemed so friendly and beautiful before, had lost their ethereal glow.

Everything was fake.

The designer labels were there to mislead you.

Everyone was fat and taking seconds from the dinner buffet, because they truly believed that they deserved nothing less.

These people don’t even know how to enjoy the outdoors, I thought. Central Park was creatively sectioned by tennis courts and playgrounds named after the dead.

If you were not the very rich, you were the very poor, and we were the very poor. I put in more than forty two hours a week underground at the Columbus Circle Whole Foods. I missed sunlight and I missed the horizon, but I kept food on the table for myself and Ian, who had no job and never looked for one.

In July, designer Anya Hindmarch released a reusable bag made from sustainable and organic materials that had “I’m NOT a plastic bag” sewn on the side. The bag was released through Whole Foods and was designed to be a fashionable alternative to plastic bags made standard by the city. I arrived at work that morning to women breaking their nose cartilage against the windows of Whole Foods, waiting to get their own bag. There was a terrifying rush.

After purchasing a bag a woman asked me for a plastic one to put it in.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“It’s RAINING!” she barked, as if that explained everything.

At least five other women asked me for the same thing. The bag sold out in twenty nine minutes. I needed to get out of there.

When Ian came home, he had grown a beard. Israel was like Miami, he said. The security at the airport destroyed his film by X-raying it. We were ruined and poor. We were naughty boys who had stumbled into the wrong movie theater by mistake.

“I miss Savannah like I miss a lover,” Ian said, his back turned to me. He was focused on the video game he was playing. He had been playing on the computer, in the dark, for three weeks.

I twisted the corner of my scholarship letter between my fingers: I had to remind myself that it was real. We were going to get out of this city. We were going to see trees again. I was going to art school to learn to love myself.

We packed up the truck and left the summer spiraling behind us. I didn’t turn around. My eyes were focused on the horizon.

-Rin Ascher, 2007

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