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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Escape

I was with this boy on a fire escape after the St. Patrick's Day Parade one year.

I was not fond of the parade itself.  I didn't like the music, and I could care less about my heritage.  Besides, l looked awful in green.  It's not the best color.  But I always went anyway.  Everyone did, and I wanted to be with everyone.  We headed into Central Park to drink, looking for people we knew and finding some we didn't.

I met him by the bandshell.  It appeared he had a freshly broken nose.  There was blood still on his face and across the front of his shirt.  He said he was from Commack.  That's on Long Island.  He might as well have been from Mars.  I had no idea where anything was located.  I barely do now, but I'm getting better at directions.

I was with my friends, and I guess he was with his.  They were dressed in varsity jackets.

Maybe I will get to wear that jacket, I thought.

We all went to a bar and paid five dollars to get in.  I was already very drunk.  We were given a ton of drink tickets, like at the carnival.  I found a bunch more on an empty table and in the bathroom.  I couldn't understand why anyone would leave their tickets behind.  I wore them proudly like a necklace.  Beers, Bloody Marys and Kamikazis at 12:30 in the afternoon.  What a beautiful thing.

"I have to visit my grandmother," he said to me.  "She's in the hospital."

"I'll come with you."

This is nice, I thought.  I'm meeting his family.

I wasn't sure if that's where we were going.  He held my hand as we walked through the crowded, rainy streets.  Dudes were fighting, girls were crying and everyone was throwing up.  The city was filthy with garbage and bad decisions.

At Lenox Hill Hospital, we made out in the lobby.  We took the elevator to the seventh floor.

"Wait here," he instructed.  I plopped down in a wheelchair in the hallway.  I wished I could lay down.  A while later, he nearly passed me in the corridor.

"Oh.  I forgot about you.  Wanna meet my Nana?" he asked.

"Sure."  I followed him into the room and greeted the old lady in the bed.

"Hi," I said, but she was asleep.

"We should leave," he suggested, pulling me by the arm.

We kissed some more on the sidewalk and looked for a place to go.  We ducked between two buildings.

"Here is fine," he told me.  "I need to take a leak first."

"Okay."

When we got back to the bar, the friends I came with were gone.  Getting home seemed like a lot of work, so I drank some more.  We went to another place where I lost sight of my new companion.  But there was a second boy, same jacket.  I went outside with him, around the corner and down a flight of stairs.

"Where's the other guy?" I wanted to know.

"He had to meet Lauren.  She goes to Hunter College."

"How far is Commack from here?" I asked.

"It doesn't matter."

Maybe he was right.

"You're a big girl," he said as he tried to pick me up.  "You're heavier than you look."

I need to go on a diet, I thought.

The bricks hurt my back and tore up my sweater.  He smelled like sweat and wet wool.  A doorman came to the top of the steps and banged his flashlight against the railing.

"Get the hell out of here before I call the cops," he yelled.

It was freezing outside, and I'd misplaced my coat.  I was tired and needed to get back to the Bronx. Somebody put me on the train.

I gave out my phone number to several young men that evening.  I thought I had something to offer, and I thought they would call me.  I really did.

I consider this memory whenever St. Patty's Day rolls around.  It quietly takes its place among the others, the good and the not-so-good.  When I revisit these details, I'm not traumatized.  And I don't feel sorry for myself.  I just wonder, What was I thinking?

Perhaps I was trying to figure out how not to be so sad.  It was, after all, a parade.

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