A preface first of all: if you think you may have seen this post before, it’s because you have. It has a bit of a schizophrenic history: I posted it, then repented and deleted it, then repented deleting it, because sure, it’s snarly and angry and not particularly nice, but it also documents a legitimate stage in my journey (as pretentious as it sounds to call a holiday that). And I’ve since apologised to the person expressly named in it, who didn’t seem to particularly begrudge my having written it, so perhaps it wasn’t as excessive as I’d originally feared. And to be honest, although it’s out of character, I’m kind of happy with it as a piece of writing, dammit – and it’s not like I write so frequently that I can afford to delete perfectly decent posts willy-nilly. Anyway, it’s back. For now. With some reservation. Sorry.
I write this post with a warning: it contains what is for me, a copious amount of swearing. By this I mean I use the f-word once. It is also not about New York. Well, actually, it is indirectly about New York – it does mention the Brooklyn Bridge – but it’s more one of those tedious, whingey, vitriolic confessional pieces that I’ve managed to avoid writing up until now, possibly because of, I don’t know, basic human dignity or something. But all good things must come to an end.
Anyway, if you’re reading this hoping for an update on my travels or pretty pictures of tourist sites and squirrels and such, then you should probably stop now. Also if you’re an ex-boyfriend (not that there’s a horde of them out there) or a person whom I actually know in real life but would usually maintain some semblance of professionalism or habitual polite reserve with. (My boss, for instance.) Really, that would be best. So stop now, OK?
I have recently come to the realisation that the person I have been dating for the past 2 months is a coward and a f*#kwit. (NB. If you’re under the age of 12 or have a literary or moral objection to obscenities, please substitute “cad” for the last word in this sentence. This will also produce a pleasing alliterative effect. ) I could be more fulsome in my description of him, but would no doubt regret it in future, so let’s just leave it at that. (But Steve, if you’re still reading this – and your terminal self-absorption makes me suspect that you probably are – then this one’s for you, OK, from one “writer” to another 🙂 🙂 🙂 . You might want to unsubscribe now.)
I am one of those people who sorts through their feelings by walking. I had to purge myself of this admittedly brief relationship, so felt an immediate, compelling need to go for a long walk: it is no coincidence that the words “exercise” and “exorcise” are almost identical. I’ve been doing a lot of walking here, typically a good 10-12 hours a day with short breaks for the subway, coffee and food, but most of it is that meandering, exploratory style of walking, more conducive to brooding than catharsis. I needed to stride purposefully to a destination.
The Brooklyn Bridge would have been ideal – there would have been something pleasingly symbolic about crossing from one side to the other, shedding the past in runnels. It also would have been satisfying to stop halfway and toss something representative of the “relationship” into the depths of the harbour. The only problem was that my ex-boyfriend (though the noun might be an over-statement) never actually gave me anything to cast off. I guess he bought me dinner a few times and there might conceivably have been some last vestiges of those meals inside me somewhere. Perhaps I could have just vomited over the edge or something. That would have worked well on a number of levels.
Unfortunately, however, I had to abandon this idea (the whole bridge thing rather than just the vomiting, which objectively would have been disgusting) as I had already done the walk on my second day here.
For Walt Whitman, crossing the harbour was a transcendental experience which gave him a profound understanding of his place in time and the universe. My own experience was considerably different.
It was around 4pm on a hot Spring afternoon and the bridge was choked with people. The walkway is only around 3 metres wide and divided into halves, with one side for cyclists and one for pedestrians. New Yorkers are reputed to walk notoriously fast, which works for me, who gets easily frustrated by slow walkers, but most of this crowd were tourists. They would saunter casually along (she says disapprovingly) and every few seconds would stop to take photos of themselves against the backdrop of Manhattan and the harbour. I suppose this is excusable, but some of them also had those long, retractable “selfie” sticks which never fail to incite a sneering sort of hatred in me and an earnest desire for the deaths of the people using them.
If I could make one observation about New Yorkers, it would be that they take their cycling seriously. The bikes barrelled by at an alarming speed and these guys were intense. (NB. The bulk of them were guys rather than dolls, to throw in a gratuitous Broadway reference). Some had sirens attached to their bikes, which shrieked continuously and ear-splittingly. “Out of the way!” and “Yo, off the path dude,” they would scream with what seemed real fury, and if someone was slow in acquiescing or didn’t move far enough to the side, they would whoosh by them close enough to brush the hairs on their skin or make a pointed show of missing their foot by millimetres. One cyclist curtly clipped the bare arm of a bewildered French girl with his handlebars, grazing the skin and drawing blood. This struck me as a tad excessive, but seemed to meet with general approval from the other cyclists, so perhaps the bitch deserved to be cut.
It took about 30 minutes to cross from one side to the other, even at the enervating snail’s pace I was necessarily reduced to. I spent most of that time trying not to encroach into people’s photos, avoiding deoculation by selfie stick, and overtaking, or fuming at my inability to overtake, dawdlers. It was a horrible, claustrophobic experience. I felt like I was trapped in a queue for the Boxing Day sales and barely even glanced at the view. It was about as restful as cycling with a siren must be.
In retrospect, then, it would probably not have satisfied my cathartic needs.
And so I wrote this post instead: to adopt a dated American expression – neat, huh?
I end by wishing the previously mentioned member of the opposite sex, whom I am not going to grace with the dignity or importance of any other descriptors than that, a dismissive and infinitely serene, f#@k you.
Dammit, that was twice.