It was a gorgeous afternoon on the levee, and out by the river were roller-skaters, joggers, frisbee players and teenage lovers wrapped in a blanket. A car horn played “Dixie.” I like New Orleans. It’s a relaxed place, and race relations seem better than in any other place I’ve been.
Gary is such a snob about Miami Beach being such a tacky place for old people like his uncle, but I love the atmosphere there: all the bright lights and glamorously seedy old hotels on Collins Avenue, the old Jewish people kibitzing on their porches.
I can’t let life defeat me; I’ve got to give it another shot. Hell, I’m young and strong and talented enough to get myself and Grandma Sylvia on the front page of today’s Miami News. And tonight a reporter for the Neighbors section of the Miami Herald wants to interview her.
In the Miami News city room, there were reporters hunched over video terminals, papers scattered everywhere, some editor barking out instructions. The place felt so alive. How can one not be impressed with historical front pages (“War Ends!” and “Snow in Miami!”) and Pulitzer Prize plaques?
I have no home of my own, no job and less than $2,000. So why don’t I feel depressed? It’s not just that I’m in sunny Florida. See, with my lack of money, position and prospects comes a very real sense of freedom. As “Me and Bobby McGee” says, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
When I opened the door of her apartment, I saw a big grey poster that said NEW YORK WILL BE GRAYER WITHOUT GRAYSON. “Surprise!” shouted a crowd of people from the living room. I was stunned, although everyone was sure that I had known that Avis, Alice and Teresa had planned a going-away party.
I’m happy to be moving to Florida. Although I have no idea what I’ll be doing a month from now or three months from now, I feel like I’m starting fresh, as on the John Lennon song being played all the time now: “It’ll be just like starting over.”
Stacy took my Florida address and gave me a squeeze on the shoulder as she got off the bus. Her eyes were as light blue as they used to be, and I remembered how much I’d been attracted to her. She seemed to have turned out so well that I was pleased with myself for once loving her.
From Brooklyn College, I drove to New Utrecht High School, where I was supposed to teach a class in Basic English Grammar. On the classroom’s blackboard someone had drawn a grave inscribed “John Lennon 1940-1980 – His Music Will Live Forever.” Of course I did not erase it.
At Union Square, the conductor announces that our train is on fire and that we should “probably” all get out. Having recently seen videotapes of the MGM Grand Hotel fire in Vegas, the California brush fires, and the Italian earthquake, most of us passengers are not willing to stick around.