Having weathered my birthday hangover, I now set down some thoughts from the past twenty-four hours.
For someone who is, I certainly don’t feel middle-aged. Sure, the bio-mechanics aren’t as fluid and efficient as they were during my misspent youth, but I honestly don’t feel much different than when I was eighteen.
My life and career are certainly not where I once envisioned them to be, but at least I can say that I had a career within the field that I wanted to be a part of since childhood, and that’s more than most of us can say. Not that said career went exactly as imagined, but I had a lot of great experiences, made a lot of great friends and learned a lot about myself and my own capabilities. Even when things were in the shitter, there was always something from which to gain wisdom. Sooner or later I’ll get around to using it.
While wandering around Alphabet City in lower Manhattan last night I was struck by a feeling of nostalgia that punched me in the stomach with the brass knuckles of memory. I found myself in Thompkins Square Park, formerly a hive of twitchy junkies and whores of indeterminate gender, and found it to be a charming little oasis in an area that grows increasingly trendy. The bar that now occupies the corner of Seventh street and Avenue A is rather quiet and a far cry from the insane cesspool that was once the late, lamented King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Gone are the rows of well-worn Harley hogs haphazardly parked outside as their owners gleefully relieved themselves against the graffiti-heiroglyphed brickface. Where once the raucous strains of the Cramps’ signature swamp-billy siren songs battled for ear-space against the bellowing regurgitation of the Wah Wah Hut’s less hardy patrons, there was only the steady drone of traffic and the occasional snippet of a pop song weaving its way out of one of the many overpriced bistros. Smartly dressed yuppies glided by on rollerblades as they walked their canine companions; one man even had a very unwilling housecat on a leash, and the poor beast loudly protested that state of affairs while being practically dragged across the asphalt. No stoners were present, and the park actually exuded a family-friendly vibe. Quite a change from a mere thirteen years ago. Funny, but it only seems like about a year or two have passed since the nights I used to spend there.
In recent years I have decided to flee the five boroughs as soon as it’s financially doable for me, but for those brief moments last night I was reminded of the vibrant life that savagely held sway over the city and made a twenty-something Bunche fall madly in love with it. Now, it’s a haven only for those who can afford to pay the exorbitant price to live here and those of us who don’t have the scratch are being driven out, either to the far reaches of the territories or out of our beloved Apple altogether. New York will never really die, but the writing is on the wall and it loses another bit of its soul each day. New Paltz keeps looking better and better to me, and as soon as I can I intend to hang my hat there.
As for the next step in my employment life, I honestly have no idea where I will end up. Ideal jobs are rare during the best of times, and as for right now, forget it. I’m managing to scratch and survive and I’m sure that things will turn around eventually. I can draw, write, do art production, digital stuff and cook like a motherfucker, so I do have things going for me. I just need to remind myself of that.
My lack of both a job and a significant other had really gotten to me during the past few months, and though I hid it well I was a fucking mess. When not looking for work I was not taking the best care of myself, hardly sleeping and drinking way too much. After the Memorial Day barbecue at Seth and Ruth’s in Baldwin, I have decided to cut out all drinking unless at a party or on a night out; the worst thing that one can do for one’s health and state of mind is to wallow in self-pity and stay at home drinking alone. Consequently, I have cut that sort of bullshit out and am endeavoring to both lose weight and reclaim some of my inner toughness that I allowed to be beaten out of me by my last two years in comics. It’s time for a re-strengthening, plain and simple.
And on that note, I’m going to rustle up some dinner.