I was sitting on a bench inside the Bergen St. subway station in Brooklyn, sweating like Rush Limbaugh, when a guy carrying a messenger bag sat next to me. He had the NY Times crossword puzzle almost done. Well, he could’ve just put random letters in there hoping to sit next to a young cute girl and accidentally on purpose show it to her. Either way, good move! I was angry from missing my train because I was going to miss the movie (Frances Ha) I wanted to see. It was Friday night and I was going to a movie by myself. Killing it in NYC!
The guy next to me said nonchalantly, “There’s a tomato festival tomorrow, you should go.”
I was not in the mood to talk to anyone. I look like a social vampire demon when I’m on subways. I only smile at babies and guys who give up their seats to old ladies. After he said that, I instantly smiled and said back to him, “No shit, I’m out of tomatoes, maybe I’ll go.”
“I think it’s where people throw tomatoes at each other.” He said while gazing down the subway tracks.
“I don’t want tomato guts on my white t-shirts.” (I own more white t-shirts than Dylan from 90210.)
“Yeah, it’s deep in Brooklyn and it’s fifty dollars to get in.”
“Oh, fuck that.”
The F train finally arrived fifteen minutes later. I call it the Fuck train, hilarious and original right? I walk on and he stands next to me as the doors close.
“Where are you going?”
“Well I was going to see a movie, but I’m already late, so I’m going to meet a pal in the East Village for drinks.”
“Oh cool, I’m going to a party.”
“What do you do here?”
“Model. But ya know, it’s my job. I like writing. What about you?”
“Lawyer. Boring I know.”
We both look away and I stare out the window. My ears pop from going underneath the east river so I make myself yawn. Broadway-Lafayette is my stop, which happens to be his too. We both pop out onto the street and smile at each other.
“Nice meeting you.”
And off we went.
It made me remember why talking to people in real life is important and good for me. I can’t be angry talking to strangers. In fact, every time I’ve had a conversation on the subway it has been pleasant.
My second attempt at seeing Frances Ha was Saturday night. I was planning on taking my mind off tragic news I had received earlier. You know how when your parents call you at odd times your first thought is, “oh shit who died?” Well I got a voice mail from my dad. I listened to it and it was one of those “oh shit, someone did die” calls. I’ve only been to one funeral in my adult life, and that person wasn’t a close friend of mine, he was a comedian friend of my ex-boyfriend’s. It was very sad, and I had listened to him talk for hundreds of hours so I felt like I knew him.
This voice mail was different. I’ve never reacted the way I did to this. I lost my grandfather when I was very young, and I only remember meeting him once. My grandmother died a few years back, but I hadn’t seen her in over ten years. Those were sad deaths, but this one was different. This grandfather had been around forever. He lived with my grandmother ten minutes away from my house growing up. We would go over there a lot. My grandpa retired from GM a long time ago and he would record movies on VHS tapes. Like hundreds of movies. He had an alphabetized library in the TV room. I was fascinated by it. He always wore pajamas and insisted on laying on the floor reading the newspaper and smoking every weekend. He had a cynical sense of humor that I always liked (of course I did) and had a very “fuck it, this is life” mentality. He made birdhouses in his basement and painted the German soccer team jerseys on garden gnomes to put in his garden. I remember one time he was drunk, talking about the migratory patterns of birds and then told me everyone else is an idiot except me because I like to travel and see the world. He was in the Air Force from 1958-62 and traveled all over the place. He collected beer cans and beer steins from everywhere. I wish I could have talked to him more as an adult because I just thought he was nuts when I was younger. He’s a very interesting yet reserved guy. He rode his moped to the Eagle’s club in Kalamazoo every weekend. I think every city has an Eagle’s club- where old people hang out, drink beer, and talk about the weather. This past weekend he was driving his moped to the eagle’s club and was struck by another car. He died instantly. He was 74.
The first thing I did after listening to the voice mail is sit in the floor of my closet crying. I didn’t know what else to do. I called my parents and everything was just sad. I got really angry. Really? Killed in a car accident at 74? What a rip off. But then I spoke to my mom and she said, “He had a great and healthy life, at least he didn’t suffer.” Sure. I guess. It’s debatable whether an instant death is better than getting lung cancer and suffering for ten years. Longevity or quality? I’d like to think I’d pick longevity but if I’m getting Chernobyl amounts of radiation in my body for brain cancer then what’s the fucking point?
I just remembered that Beastie Boys song from Hello Nasty called Instant Death. “And please let me….die an instant death.” What a great song:
After that awful news I thought that going to a movie would settle my brain. There’s a movie theater about ten blocks away, and it’s hot as shit, so an air conditioned ninety minutes of not thinking about death sounded great. I got to the theater but then changed my mind. I was a disaster. I didn’t eat anything and I just wanted to sit outside on the sidewalk. It started to rain. It was the first rain since the heat wave and it felt so magical. I walked back as slow as possible, stopped in the corner bodega to get a snickers ice cream bar, and sat on my stoop in the rain while dudes who lived in the projects across the street would walk by and ask if I was okay. I was alive, but definitely not okay.
The next day, Sunday, I was determined to see Frances Ha. I bought a ticket online. Earlier that day I had to figure out travel plans to Michigan. Coordinating with my sister in California to arrive in Detroit at the same time so we could drive to Kalamazoo together was near impossible. I eventually figured it out. I was still very angry at the world. Not sad really, just angry. It was not fun.
I walked down the street again to the movie theater and finally watched Frances Ha. It was everything I expected it to be. I loved it so much. Greta Gerwig is just the best. After the movie I walked home. It was 75 degrees, finally, a comfortable temperature. It was perfect. Everything felt good again, and where it was supposed to be. I think I fell in love with Brooklyn that night.
OH MY GOD THIS IS SO LONG. I won’t blame you if you stop reading. It’s been a shitty weekend and I like writing so deal with it.
Today I had a dermatologist appointment before my flight. I got a prescription for pills and benzoyl peroxides and lasers and shit. My skin has been crazy bad on my chin. Nowhere else, just my stupid fucking chin. I’ve accepted that acne is just something I am going to have to live with my entire life. No sense in getting angry, stress makes it worse. So do cookies and sugar, and caffeine, and cheese. I’ve been eating toast with avocado and tomatoes like three times a day, such a great snack. Hey, Melissa, NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU EAT!
I had an 8pm flight out of Laguardia, but I was still sitting on the G train at 6:30 coming home from the dermatologist. I was panicking a little. As soon as I reached my stop I ordered an Uber driver who was 8 minutes away. Uber is an amazing car service where you can track them on gps so you know how long it’ll take for them to reach you. The future is now. I had just enough time to pack. I ran up the stairs to my Brooklyn sublet, threw my laptop and pills into a bag and I was off. It was going to be a short trip to Kalamazoo. I could care less how many Alexander Wang T-shirts I brought with me. We arrived to the airport forty minutes before my plane took off and an employee immediately walked up to my car.
“You might as well go back home, they cancelled all flights.”
“A southwest plane’s landing gear broke and the plane crashed. The TSA closed everything and cancelled all outgoing flights.”
Fucking shit. No worse a feeling than when you hurry to get somewhere and it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t need that $80 I spent on the car getting there anyway. Yeah, I definitely didn’t need that to buy ten cartons of Almond Breeze Iced Coffee.
I’m almost finished I promise…
My driver was from Guam. He was very nice and knew all the shortcuts to the airport. On the way back to my apartment he asked where I was flying to, and I told him Michigan. He said, “sometimes it isn’t worth it to live in NYC. You make a lot of money, but you spend a lot of money. You should be where the people you love are. They are most important.” This meant a lot to me because I was debating on whether or not to fly to Kalamazoo for the funeral. I was in NYC to work and make money, and I had booked a job this week. Getting the flight was crazy expensive and now having to reschedule and get another flight was very stressful. I was talking to a friend about maybe not even going and he said I would definitely regret it. It would be a huge mistake to choose modeling over being with my family. Of course it would be, he’s absolutely right.
I have an afternoon flight tomorrow. I’ll try to get to the airport at least an hour before it takes off, I promise.