New York Romance
I usually get good ideas when I smoke cigarettes. I stand there on the balcony staring at a clump of ivy vaguely creeping up someone else’s wall and smoke sometimes because I have nothing to do. Then I’ll get an idea, and it’ll come in a FLASH of inspiration IN ALL CAPS in my brain, but I usually forget it before I can write it down. When that happens sometimes I have another cigarette in the same spot and try to coax it to come back.
Sometimes I worry if I quit smoking I’ll stop having good ideas.
My downstairs neighbor is a supermodel and I remember this when I reach for the pita chips. Sometimes I wonder if she judges me from her deck when I do yoga badly in the living room, I’ve never been to her place but I’m pretty sure she can see my place through the window. I don’t know if she does yoga herself but I do know she drinks PBR tallboys on humid nights and for some reason I find that endearing.
The other neighbor has constructed what appears to be a miniature forest getaway in her backyard, just this huge lush canopy of green walled in by bricks and concrete. The rain is falling into it and I can almost see the plants swelling with water, absorbing the droplets hungrily through their cells.
The tinny sound of rain on the fire escape reminds me where I am.
A woman in black lingerie stares out of her window in the next apartment complex and I think she might be looking at me but I’m not sure. I blow a cloud of smoke in her direction and stare back at her until her image distorts, then go to bed. The next morning I go outside with my coffee and see her standing in the same place but as it turns out she is a cleverly constructed floor lamp.
Later I go to the bar down the street with a book and annex a table, it’s too dark to read but I order a drink and strain my eyes anyway. A moment later some tipsy girls from the Upper West Side want to know what I’m doing there all alone and I tell them I got stood up on a date because I don’t feel like explaining. They call my fictional date an asshole and say he doesn’t deserve me on and on until I start to feel bad for him even though he doesn’t exist.
The best thing about cash only bars is that you don’t have to wait around to close a tab long after you’re ready to leave.
On the way home I start thinking about this episode I saw of The Office once where Jim attaches a red wire to Dwight’s computer and Dwight follows it all through the office and outside up a telephone pole and I remember it being really funny but also really sad, like that’s what life is basically, a red wire. You pull at it and follow it along uprooting things thinking you’re going to get somewhere but really you just end up on top of a telephone pole, or somewhere else really pointless.
This is my last cigarette, I did the math and I really can’t afford to smoke.
A | A | A
If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”