On the news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden all I wanted to do was be in the place I consider my 2nd home after Chicago --- the city that made me a man --- my beloved NYC. Despite it's noise and it's grit and it's headaches there's no place like it anywhere. One thing is for sure, New Yorkers know how to come together when under duress. One thing most of us have in common is that we love, hate, are baffled by and then go right back to loving NYC some more. Below is one of my begrudging love stories for the city entitled, One Man's Grind, from my recently published Love Notes.
New York is a nightmare. Not because of the murder, crime or any other usual suspect, but because of its endless skyline, subway system, bridges, tunnels and millions of people. No one sane stands calmly pressed against strangers like chattel on overcrowded trains. No one with any sense jockeys mindlessly for space on sidewalks clogged with people. And only the silly would spend six dollars just to drive across a bridge that barely spans a mile. But everyday millions of people who believe they're normal entertain this madness and call it their commute to and from work. These are the gremlins, goblins and monsters that keep the nightmare alive— those who have everything, those who have nothing, and everyone in between.
My alarm clock goes off at 6:15am. I was awake long before it started screaming, hiding in vain beneath my comforter, dreading its obnoxious outburst.
I get out of bed and kneel at the side of it to pray.
"God forgive me for my sins…I am a sinner. Forgive me for not loving You as much as you love me. I try, but I fail constantly. I ask that you allow me to be a blessing in the life of at least one person today."
I stand, almost certain I won't.
My eyes are dry and full of sleep. In spite of this, I easily navigate the miniscule space of my home, even with the pre-dawn purple haze that remains settled on everything around me.
Soon the sun will be up and with it the day and the people.
The scalding hot water of my shower invigorates me. The air becomes warm and moist in my lungs. The water pricks my flesh then forms rivers and streams that run down the length of me to the drain. I stay here longer than usual before washing, trying to wake up. By the time I'm done I can't see for all the steam I've created. I shave at the sink, unable to see the mirror in front of me but not needing it. I'm used to the routine.
Dressed in clothes that cost too much, I ride the F Train to work. Most days feel like I'm on my way to the carnival with the carnival. I'm particularly skilled at picking the car with the singing panhandler who sounds like my drunk uncle at Christmas. Today this is especially true.
By the time I'm off the train and above ground, the scenery is no longer the residential green of my neighborhood in Queens. Skyscrapers form canyon walls around me, carving out concrete and metal chaos. People are swarming everywhere, walking with herd-like urgency without any prodding or shepherding. I find an opening and merge onto the sidewalk, moving on autopilot until I am safely inside the lobby of my building.
I say good morning to the security guard on duty. He tells me to have a good day.
By the time I reach my desk, I'm ready to go home. I sit down and sigh, not exactly sure what I do or why I do it. I began as a writer for a start-up Internet company. Now I manage a bunch of writers and read their writing all day long. I report what they do to my boss, a man obsessed with not realizing he made a mistake leaving an investment gig on Wall Street. His paranoia is contagious. I do my best to avoid it.
At the end of the day I go underground again to join the carnival headed to Queens. The sun has set when I emerge from city's bowels and I see green again. The roar of the cars and trucks along the Van Wyck Expressway soothes me as I walk to my building, anxious for the excessive heat that sizzles off the old radiators in my apartment.
I pass the mirrored walls of my building's lobby, ignoring my reflection and check my mailbox. It's a clutter of junk mail and bills except for one pink envelope. I look at the return address and my heartbeat accelerates. Not that I want it to.
I take the stairs two-at-a-time to the fifth floor, skipping the elevator. I burst into my home and only turn on one light. [To Be Continued]
Just so I don't bore you here on the blog you can read the rest by downloading your copy of Love Notes today. No Kindle? No problem. You can download one of the many free Kindle Apps to your mobile device and computer so you can finish this story and the rest told from the point of view of a man trying to make sense of it all.
E.Payne is the author of Investing In An Emotional Letdown and I Didn't Invented Sex. For the past 3 years he has posted 600+ articles about fatherhood, marriage and everything in between here at Makes Me Wanna Holler.com. To learn more, click here.