My blog’s been wonky all day. Posts have been loading very slowly. Whenever I close comments, I have to close them twice before it takes/. Somehow the post went from published to “private.” That’s a new one even for me. Sorry
On the sidebar is a new feature called BlogFriday. It will be on the main post on Friday. Probably deeply edited. I have no idea how to do the ping on Word Press so that only the original post is pinged. Oh to be me….Next week I hope to begin exploring dark sides.
Welcome to the new New York. There was no sign at LaGuardia saying that. Lianna stood at the baggage carousel with a few families who looked straight out of central casting for The Sopranos. She felt at home breathing in their accents that were so familiar, so New York. She hadn’t thought people really spoke like that anymore. It was always a shock when they did.
Their accents reminded her of older relatives her parents would tell her never to mimic. A New York accent was up there with being fat, not being manicured, well-dressed, impolite or unfriendly in her parents lists of “no’s.”
In South Carolina people confused her for a good Christian woman. Their stories amazed her. A man told her about being the last man left from his platoon in Nam–two suicides, two car accidents, six dead from leukemia. It was the Agent Orange. They were sprayed three times and each time he happened to be wearing his poncho.
Then he told her about how when he first moved to South Carolina 40 years ago somebody gave him Strom’s home number to ask if he could be at a local fair or at least get a good band. Thurmond answered the phone himself. He couldn’t come to the fair but did get the band. Lianna was proud that she didn’t make any Strom jokes but said “that’s amazing.” “Wow.” “That’s wonderful,” in her somewhere in the Northeast accent now tinged with the slightest bit of Southern.
It was amazing that he could just call Strom. She loved the dichotomy in the stories. Government conspiracy and pure Southern Conservative. There was the Black daughter. Southerner’s were more complicated than New Yorker’s thought.
One thing she knew with all heart Jena didn’t represent most Southerners, and there was an incident in California and one on Long Island. Racism might be embedded but many Southerners she knew personally were among the least prejudiced people she knew.
Her luggage came quickly. One red Tumi suitcase that looked battered, and one suitcase, with pictures of Route 66, she had bought on Venice Beach when the regs had changed. Both had Brookstone yellow neon baggage tellers on them. No way was her luggage going to get misplaced unless the airline lost it.
There were cabs but no people waiting online. The plane had been an hour late and the ride bumpy. The driver was young and could have been of many ethnic descents. In New York that was the first thing you looked for.
The ride to Manhattan was slow. She talked on her cell, and then to the driver a good ole’ New York Hispanic who like everybody was obsessed with the thought of getting out. When they got to Broadway on her street she began passing people she knew. “Hi Willy.” “Hi…”
“Wow,” the cab driver said, “I never had a passenger who said hello to so many people.”
“Rush hour. People are clogging the streets.”
“I live in Astoria and don’t say hello to that many people in an entire day.”
“It’s the Upper West Side. Live here long enough and people become friendly.”
Actually that wasn’t true. But Lianna refused to live somewhere where she didn’t know her neighbors and people in the hood. She couldn’t do Fairway if she couldn’t say hello to some people and praise the cashiers on their efficiency. Fairway was the most crowded store with the longest but quickest lines. Still she had loved actually looking at the food she bought in South Carolina. To see what you were buying without just picking it up because you knew it had to be…Sometimes it wasn’t. She didn’t really want a salad with chicken when she would throw out the chicken. if she tried to look without actually touching things, people would get impatient. And nobody gave up a spot online. You just didn’t.
The doormen rushed out when they saw it was Lianna. Max said you could tell Lianna was raised right unlike most people in the building. Max was all of 23.
When she arrived on the tenth floor she looked at her apartment as though somebody else owned it. After being in the land of wall to wall for a month the granite and hard wood floors looked more beautiful than she remembered. Because of the way she had furnished it, the two and a half rooms actually looked large.
The mail was stacked on one of the three glass tables in the living room. She divided it into piles: throw away, maybe look at, important: remember to read; important; remember to answer or do something; bills, bills that had to be paid by check for whatever reason, magazines that she would read, magazines to be thrown out, catalogues to read and catalogues to be thrown out.
The annual $400 check from the city had arrived. It used to say for ‘”owning a coop during these difficult times.” Now it said “Your enclosed rebate check is the City’s way of recognizing the sacrifice you made to keep New York City fiscally sound.” Yes, New York would be fiscally sound but would she be?
Lianna wasn’t 30 anymore. Monies made had to go for her old age. She felt so stupid for harping on this, but hell Max talked about the way he could live on his doorman’s salary somewhere else. It was the new New Yorkspeak.
Lianna was nothing if not efficient. Never save for tomorrow what you could do today. Being efficient got her into trouble sometimes but still the chore was finished.
She was going to put on “music for truck drivers” to unpack. It was a CD of amphetamine type music designed to keep people awake. Instead she put on Vince Gill “These Days.” Country was a side of her most people didn’t know and she would deny if…well she wouldn’t deny Dolly, Emmy Lou, Hank Williams, Patsy….but uh, Vince Gill? She had listened to Vince Gill on a Walkman during her Vince Gill stage. Only one other person knew about it and they had been so stoned on the ride to Jones Beach she doubted the person remembered anything but how stupid they were for driving through the parking lot as if it were the Indy 500 course, and how wonderfully achingly beautiful the theater and concessions had been.
In the South she could exercise this side freely without fear of being made fun of.
It was hot, humid and she had the doormen take out the AC’s when she was away. She put on the Sharper Image fans. Lianna wished she lived in a Southern plantation type house with a huge porch, was drinking sweet tea and fanning herself with a feather fan.
All the clothes were cleaned having been washed not once when away but after every wearing. She didn’t even have to rationalize that. It had been so hot and humid and she walked so much that her clothes would be dripping by the time she arrived at the townhouse.
When she finished unpacking, paid the bills and threw out most of the mail she wondered what she was going to do with the rest of the night and the rest of her life.
It had been drilled into her since early childhood that TV was a useless waste of time and life. Still she felt too tired to read, call people or do anything but watch TV.
Tomorrow. She would think about the rest of her life tomorrow. Tomorrow came too quickly. She would give herself through the weekend.