24 March 2007

Back To Brooklyn

I apologize for leaving you all in the lurch this past week, assuming, that is, that there are at least some of you out there who are actually intrigued or at least mildly interested by the latest twists and turns taken by my topsy-turvy life.

When we last met, I was about to board a plane in Sydney, which I subsequently did, at the cost of missing out on another week of what looks to have been splendid beach weather, and of winding up in San Francisco/Berkeley where the weather was not, shall we say, quite up to beach standards.

In fact, it was diabolically cold for most of the time I was there, with the exception of a couple afternoons when it was warm and sunny enough to stroll around jacket-less. I saw the doctor who operated on my big toe last year and he assured me that it looked in remarkably good shape, and I saw the dentist, who told me that much to his surprise, my teeth didn't appear to be falling out quite as rapidly as they had been. But mostly I was engaged in taking things out of boxes and putting them back into other boxes, sorting out which of my belongings - some of which had been shipped over from England, others of which had been stored in California - would make the cut and be shipped on again to my new home on the East Coast.

It was remarkably upsetting, especially since I thought I was used to this sort of thing, having emptied out two different houses in recent years with the knowledge that I wouldn't be coming back. And considering that I've had little to say about Berkeley apart from bitching and moaning for some years now, you'd think that the faster I got the job done and got the hell out of there, the happier I'd be.

But such wasn't the case; in fact I was seized by such an overwhelming fit of melancholy that for several days I could barely do anything. But then I had six whole days to get ready, I told myself, practically an eternity when it comes to spending time in the black hole Dementor-nest that is downtown Berkeley. So my first night I went to Gilman, missing all but half of the last band, of course, and the second night I went to Kendra K's Cancerous Vegan Donut Party in the wilds of Emeryville and/or Oakland. Kendra, who many of you will know as one of my favorite bloggers and people, has been diagnosed with cancer and is going on for surgery and chemo next week, so to commemorate the occasion, she and her musical partner Elbert, backed by all-round indie kid Aaron, staged a performance of Hello, It's a Lumberjack Again, the Brent's TV/Sweet Baby/MTX tribute band that very nicely, though without excessive verisimilitude, captures the spirit of the originals.

The party went on till 1:30 or 2, and combined with my already excessive jet lag (as you may know, flying from Sydney to Frisco entails leaving in the afternoon and arriving the morning before you left, albeit after 14 hours in the air, thanks to the international date line. In the past I'd been able to sleep or at least relax on this flight, but not this time; I was wide awake the entire time, and would remain that way for the next several nights, catching up (partially) on sleep only in the mornings.

That, combined with my worse than usual procrastination, ate up most of the week, leaving me with only a couple days to pack and prepare everything for what's intended to be a permanent move to New York City. And at several points in the wee small hours, I'd find myself blearily staring at a couple of half-full (or half-empty?) boxes, a couple items of clothing or bric-a-brac in my hands, and wonder, "Was I putting this in the box or taking it out?"

And on a couple occasions I was wracked with an involuntary sigh, or maybe even spasm, one that asked, "What the hell are you doing? Moving off to a whole new city at your age? You should be settling down in old familiar places and getting ready for senility and death, not rushing off to the biggest city in the world with some vague idea of making a new start and having the kinds of adventures all the 20-somethings come flocking to New York for."

In short, I was thinking, why not just stay in California? Sure, I hate it, sure, it depresses the hell out of me, but hey, it's cheap, unchallenging, and besides, I get free internet there, whereas in New York I'll have to pay through the nose for it. And suddenly I got nostalgic, almost painfully so, for the good old days when I did love California, when it seemed like the only place to be, and when New York was this cold, distant, frenetic and mercenary madhouse where only fast-talking hustlers, swindlers and conmen could hope to thrive.

I fought off these dark thoughts, and some not-so-dark ones as well, the ones that were saying, "But wouldn't it be nicer to be near your mother and your brothers and your niece and nephew as they grow up? And what about your friends, Joe and Kendra, Patrick and Erika, wouldn't you like to see them more than a couple times a year?"

And yes, I would, but just as there was a time was California was the only place for me to be, this is surely not that time. I don't fully know why I'm so hell-bent on putting myself to the enormous expense and inconvenience of relocating myself to New York - well, apart from it being the greatest, most exciting, most creative and amazing city on earth, there is that - but it feels as though that's where I'm being called, and so, as of this morning, here I am.

In keeping with my theme of sleepless nights, I left Frisco at 10pm yesterday, arrived at Newark at 6:30 in the morning, and three train rides left me practically at the door of the Brooklyn apartment I left last September 1. The street looks a lot grayer and more barren now, with all the summer leaves gone and a few piles of dirty snow left over from last week's storm. And my gym, the one that was so conveniently situated and was open 24 hours, has shut its doors and apparently vanished, which was seriously depressing, as I was dying to get in there and work off some of the inertia and fat that must have built up during my brooding-filled week in Berkeley.

And it doesn't feel quite like home yet, and although the temperature is still only in the 50s outdoors, there doesn't seem to be any heat to warm the apartment significantly above that level, and most of my belongings are still stuck in a UPS office somewhere on the West Coast instead of barreling across the country as I had expected them to be, which means I've got to live out of one poorly packed suitcase for another week or more. Never mind, though; whether it feels like it or not, it is home now, and it's up to me to make the most and the best out of it.

The one thing that's always put me off moving to New York City is kind of an inverse of that, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere" syndrome. It's along the lines of, "If New York is the greatest city in the world and it still leaves you unsatisfied and wanting more, where else is left for you to go?" For years I mouldered along in London telling myself, "Well, of course you're not completely happy here because London is only a sort of runner-up to New York in the World's Most Important City sweepstakes. If you were in New York, things would be different."

Well, now I am. And are things different? I suspect not all that greatly. What really matters, I've come to learn, is whether I'm different, and for that, I suspect, we shall have to stay tuned.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not places that bring contentment. It's people that you like.

Larry Livermore said...

Well, then I'm very fortunate, because New York is overflowing with people I like.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, everywhere one goes, they have to bring themselves with.

crystal said...

so you're back! how is the apartment? i've been missing it so much lately. i can't believe exodus is gone. it was there at thanksgiving time but no longer 24 hours. very weird. hope you have fun there!

Wesley said...

As long as there's not a steeple outside your window with a clock that always says 12:30, you'll be fine. I have this on the finest of maternal/paternal authority.

kristina said...

sigh. what do i gotta do to get a name drop around here?

Larry Livermore said...

I could make a few suggestions, but as this is a family-oriented blog, I think not.

kristina said...

flirty!