Dear friend Hannah inspired me with her latest post, which made me realize I hadn't talked to my city in a while. So I sat down and talked to her. Here's how the conversation went.
Oh, hi New York. Hi. It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I mean, I’ve been here, and you’ve certainly been there, but I feel like we haven’t really talked in a while. The tolls are so high. The tolls are just so fucking high. If you google “toll-free, antonym,” I swear to God “New York” should be the first search result.
I know this. I know this because last weekend I left. I rented a car with two friends and drove to Asbury Park, New Jersey. I know, what the fuck, right? It was for love. Not for, like, “love” love, like I’m going to marry this person love or anything crazy. Nah. But some kind of love. There are lots, you know? Love is the color wheel on the Wheel of Fortune, just more or less annoying, depending on how you feel about Wheel of Fortune. There are, like, 100 varieties, but an infinite number of possible combinations. It can be fun.
Anyway, I drove to Jersey. Actually I didn’t drive. I was drunk. My friend drove. We went down on the FDR, fingered the island on Houston Street, then finally finally fucked the Holland Tunnel to get out. It was good. It was really fucking good. It was cool to be in a car in the city, watching all the drones walk around me. I felt rich, except I know I’m not. I felt like a prince on an elephant in the middle of the dessert, except I know I’m not.
Once we were out, we encountered like a thousand toll stops. Seriously, every 15 to 20 minutes there would be another toll. Why you gotta be like that, New York? Northeast? In the South, there are no tolls. Period. There miiiiiiight be a toll on the bridge to Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama, but I can’t really remember. Soon it won’t matter anyway because the whole thing will be covered in oil, ugh. But that could be kind of cool, I guess, because it will basically be a huge slip and slide. And who doesn’t love those from their childhood? Weeeeeeeeee!
Toll. Drive. Toll. Drive. On the way back too, driving at 1, 2, 3 in the morning, tolls. Why are you so hard to penetrate, New York? It’s hard to get in, and it’s hard to get the fuck out. Why do you separate yourself like that? I mean, I get it. You’re “New York.” You’re “Manhattan.” You feel threatened, you gotta protect yourself, you feel like people owe it to you to pay obscene amounts just to cross your borders. It’s probably Sex and the City’s fault. Name off all the things you dislike about yourself, dear city, and I promise you I can trace their source back to that fucking show. But whatever. What’s done is done, and it’s a good fucking show anyway.
The tolls are confusing too. It’s not like it’s straightforward, you know? It’s not like “drive here if you have cash, drive here if you have a credit card, drive here if you have that E-Z-Pass shit.” I mean, technically, yeah, that’s how it’s set up, but all the highways in New Jersey I swear to God are like 25 lanes. So cars and trucks and hippie minivans are swerving all over the place, and then there’s us, and we don’t know where we are or where we’re going, we just know we have to pay to get there.
What? Don’t be a smartass. Of course it’s appropriate. Huh? Oh yeah, of course I know I’m using a hackneyed symbol for the crisis of the American youth. I don’t really need you to tell me that. And I really don't need you to tell me not to use the word hackneyed because it's hackneyed! But you know what? There’s nothing new under the sun, New York. Besides, what are you doing that’s new? What shit are you making? I had a dream last night that I got a tattoo of a turtle on my arm and he was wearing a CBGB T-shirt. Fuck you.
Oh, shit, I guess it is time for your monthly bath. Already? Goddamn. I feel like you just had one. OK, I’ll let you go. I’m not mad at you. Actually I’m quite content with you. It worries me. I’ve never been content with you before. Did I change, or have you changed? You look so different to me now, compared to just a few months ago. I should probably be more pissed than ever at you, but somehow I’m not. I’m just like, it’s OK. A cool stream of “it’s OK”s keeps swimming over me as I dunk my head under the brim of summer. I just sit on my bed and strum my guitar and those six strings vibrate with how little I know, and the sound bounces off the walls of my lonely little room, but it’s comforting, you know? I’m just like, it’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. Splash.
Well, I mean, I feel OK, which is what makes me worry and feel not OK. Like a gnawing in the back of my mind, like my old self jumping up and down saying, ‘Remember when you used to be unhappy!? You were so much cooler and more artsy then!’ I guess that’s one thing: New York, you’re the only place in the world where contentment raises blood pressures. Systolic over diastolic, steady climbin', like a bridge over a tugboat where there’s probably a goddamn toll.
OK OK, I’ll let you go. Talk soon.
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