When I arrived in New York my friend Amanda had given me directions to her place in Brooklyn, and that was my first stop before I went to go stay with Stephen in Uys's room. I will be eternally thankful to her for letting me come to her house before just showing up at Stephen's. Remember, I had only been to NYC twice before moving there, and I had never even set foot in Brooklyn, ya know, the place where I was going to be staying in a stranger's house and doing large cash exchanges etc., etc.
So I took a cab to Amanda's and she had a friend over who was himself moving away from New York just the next day. She fixed me a gin and tonic that probably saved my life, and me, Amanda, her boyfriend, and this other guy sat around and talked and drank until I was ready to go live amongst strangers. This friend of theirs was moving to Berlin if I remember correctly, and this guy was absolutely wonderful in his douchebaggedness. You see, I was moving to New York for Manhattan. I didn't give a fuck about Brooklyn or any "scene" or concerts or acid wash jeans or anything Brooklyn could offer me. Just another goddam suburb I thought, and I was strictly Bright Lights Big City. And then this guy was going on about how the only good thing about New York was Brooklyn, and then he said one of the greatest sentences I've ever heard amidst his diatribe of why New York is so terrible right now and how he couldn't wait to be in Berlin, he said, "It's like, the only good thing about New York is Brooklyn. I mean Manhattan is just this fucking nuculus of suck." That's right, he said "nuculus." Well, that was all I had to hear to know that Manhattan was the place for me. As my pappy would say, "Any nuculus is a good nuculus," even though he's not real and neither is that word...
And I had only spoken on the phone with Stephen maybe twice, and he wasn't even going to be at the apartment to let me in when I got there, which totally scared the shit out of me. Instead he had taped the keys to his apartment under the payphone right outside of his building. Now, once you've been in New York for a little bit you begin to realize that things like this are just the way the City has to operate. You won't have time to be letting someone in to your building, you've got an audition, or a rehearsal, or a photo shoot, or 20 jobs, or any combination of the above, and some scared country bumpkin getting off the tomato cart for the first time and needing a place to stay isn't going to interfere with the reason you moved to New York, which is to make it. No matter who you are or what you're doing, if you're not there to fucking make it then you ain't gonna last. Because this is the only thing New York has going for it is that it has a higher fucking making it rate than anywhere else in the world. That's why you begin to know instinctively who's gonna last and who isn't. The people who are moving there for a "change of pace," or to hang out with some oftheir friends who moved there are goners, quick and easy.
But that doesn't mean that I understood any of this at the time, and when I got in front of Stephen's building it was the scariest intersection I had ever seen. Six streets coming together with a train going overhead and a Spanish grocery store on one corner being the only source of light for the place, yeah, it was horrific. I'd only ever seen anything like it on Law & Order: SVU, you know, it's the same street corner where everyone gets killed and every building is a heroin dealership, that one. It was fucking terrifying, but the keys were right where he said they would be, and I got inside before getting mugged or eaten by a C.H.U.D., so I felt like I was off to a pretty damn good start.
I wasn't really there to "make it" so much as I was just there to get the fuck away from Brooke and not move to goddam Chicago. Chicago is like New York except... no, it's not like New York at all. Chicago still has sprawl and highways, and you need a car no matter whoever tells you that you "really don't" except when it's -20 outside and the motion of electrons ceases because it's so fucking cold, and you better have a car or else you aren't getting anywhere, so yeah, you still need a fucking car.
But I'd take "making it" and it was either that or I was jumping in front of a train—which is another great thing New York has going for it! Everywhere you go there's a train to step in front of, or a bridge to jump off, or you could just eat the green sauce from the Puerto Rican diner down the street with your bowl of neck soup. So many awe-inspiring and ridiculous deaths to choose from, it's a psychotically suicidal person's paradise. And I could just drink myself to death, and it'd be real easy too since nobody has time for anyone else, once I moved to my own apartment where none of the other roommates would be anything to me except people who put passive aggressive notes on everything (suicidal people don't clean much, go figure) I could be dead for months before they knew, esp. during winter where if you shut the heater off you'll be a block of ice until mid-Spring. Oh, and this gets me back to Anna. See, I hadn't been drinking for about nine months after Brooke had tried to kill herself. Well, I hadn't quit drinking right after—right after I needed to get very, very drunk. But I had quit drinking about two weeks after her "attempt" and I hadn't had a drink until I started "dating" Anna, right around my birthday, which I of course was not telling Brooke about. At first I did the, "Okay, maybe I'll drink twice a week, I can handle that," then after another day I thought, "Maybe I'll just drink every other day, I can handle that," and then by about the third week back drinking I was drinking every single night again, which was where I was at when I moved to New York.