Sunday, July 29, 2018

New York City Is Good for the Soul...and a Broken Heart

After what happened with the Model, I've been feeling a lot of dark emotions. Anger and hate towards him for deceiving and using me. Resentment and jealousy towards his girlfriend for living in blissful ignorance of his infidelity, and for her Instagram posts where she went on and on about their amazing relationship (and he was always the first to "like" or comment on them). Frustration with myself for still having feelings for him and for feeling compelled to look at their Instagram pages, even though doing so hurt me each time. Sadness and disappointment over what I'll never have with him.

But then last week I went to New York City, a vacation that I'd planned months ago. I'd wanted to go back to New York ever since I first went there four years ago. And gradually, I started emerging from the dark cloud that hung over me ever since I first found out that the Model used me to cheat on his girlfriend.

One of the first things I did was Google "literary events in New York City," which is how I found out about a poetry slam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. When I lived in Small Town, Tennessee, I used to drive for hours to Nashville on a regular basis, partly because of its thriving literary scene; there were poetry readings and open mic nights for writers almost every week. They don't really have anything like that in College Town, which is why I was excited to attend the poetry slam, not to mention it only cost ten dollars to get in.

The poetry slam at Nuyorican Poets Cafe was very different from the open mic nights I'd attended in Nashville. For one thing, the majority of the poets and audience members were African American, and the audience was much livelier, responding appreciatively with "Mm-hmm," and "Preach!" while the poets read their work. And the poets didn't just read their writing; they performed it, with all the passion, fury, and sadness that they were feeling. Their poems were about topics like what it was like to suffer from PTSD after being date-raped, the anger they felt about young black men getting shot by police officers, the alienation they felt over being biracial, and one in particular stood out: a funny poem by a white guy, who described himself in his poem as "the wokest, whitest, straightest guy who you will ever meet", and went off on a riff about white privilege.

Listening and watching them perform their poetry was like salve on the open wound of my broken heart, and for the first time in a long time, I felt glad that the Model wasn't there with me. He wouldn't have appreciated or understood it in the way that I and the others in the audience did.

I went for a walk in Washington Square Park, and some people invited me and other passers-by to write down short stories on small square pieces of paper that they were handing out. So I did, and then they hung up the story alongside several others on a display they had. It made me happy to know that other people walking through the park could read what I wrote.

I wanted to buy a ticket to a Broadway play, but even the discounted tickets cost eighty dollars, which was more than I could afford. So instead, I managed to get tickets to two different shows for less than forty dollars total: a musical in the Acorn Theater called 68, about the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and Katie & Julian & Nicholas: Corkscrew Late Night at Paradise Factory, where three "dramaturgs" performed songs from musicals that they had written. One of them described one of his songs as a "burlesque from the point of view of a Confederate statue."

I liked watching the actors perform and sing, except I came down with a sneezing fit during the second show. I think it was due to a combination of several factors: the fact that I'd been walking in the rain in Central Park, the fact that my cheap, dingy hotel room wasn't properly cleaned, or the possibility that one or all of the audience members had rolled around in cat fur before the show (I'm allergic to cats). My nose was literally running throughout the majority of the show. I was sitting at the end of the row near the wall, furthest from the door, and I didn't want to keep getting up to blow my nose in the bathroom during the actors' performances. So I sat there, pulling Kleenex out of my purse again and again and thinking, Don't sneeze don't sneeze don't sneeze ATCHOO! 

I did all the usual touristy things. I got my picture taken with costumed characters in Times Square, who I made sure to tip, of course. I ate a New York style hot dog and slice of pizza. I drank bubble tea in Chinatown and watched Chinese women do Tai Chi in a park. I took the train to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which I think of a hipster's paradise, and which also reminded me of a cross between Lincoln Park and Wicker Park in Chicago. I browsed in bookstores like Book Thug Nation in Williamsburg, where people were reading out loud to each other. I stopped at a juice bar and asked for an apple juice, and when the barista said, "OK! That'll be six dollars," I tried not to respond like this:


via GIPHY

I also went to the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, and I bought Waiter's Rant by Steve Dublanica and a Dave Barry book because the genre that I like to read most is memoir, especially memoirs where neurotic, obsessive people write about ordinary things in ways that sound hilarious. That's something that I've always aspired to do in my own writing.

I ate chicken parmigiana in Little Italy and admired the Vermeer paintings that were on display in the Frick Collection. I ate breakfast at Balthazar Bakery, and I watched Broadway actors perform for free in Bryant Park. 


It felt so good to be in a big city again, navigating my way through the crowds, listening to the New York accents and hearing people call out to each other in different languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese, Polish, and German. I didn't even mind (too much) the fact that my hotel room in Chinatown was right by the train, which rumbled loudly all night long and made it difficult for me to sleep. Since I hate driving, it was a relief to be able to walk around or take public transportation to get to where I needed to go, despite the extreme heat and humidity and the fact that I had to spend way too much money on bottled water.

What I loved the most about New York is that it's a city full of artists: actors, musicians, painters, writers, etc. Immersing myself in their work inspired me and motivated me to get back to work on my own writing.

I must admit that I am not over the Model, and it will take me some time to get over him. I will never have what his girlfriend has with him: a real relationship and a life with him. When I first realized that, I felt empty inside. I thought that I would never feel for anyone else what I felt for the Model and that I would spend the rest of my life alone. But that week in New York filled me up, and even though I am not yet whole, I realized that even if I never find true love or happiness with someone, I can have my own happy ending: a life that's filled with poetry, books, writing, travel, walks through big, interesting cities like New York, good food in new places, art, music, etc., etc.

I may never be surprised with a romantic vacation to Mexico for my birthday the way the girlfriend was with the Model, but I can take my own vacation that I paid for with my own money to a place like New York City. His girlfriend may very well end up marrying him, and I must admit that if I make the mistake of looking at her Instagram page again in the future and see their wedding pictures, it will hurt like hell. But on the other hand, she will spend her life with a narcissistic, insensitive, dishonest sociopath who cheated on her (and I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only person he's cheated with, which would explain why he often comes back to College Town without her, because that makes it easier for him to hook up with other people behind her back). And I may end up alone, but I will live my life with the freedom to live on my own terms.

What about you? What does your happy ending look like? If you could go on your dream vacation, where would it be?

15 comments:

  1. Sound like you had an awesome time. I love the idea of travelling alone, but I would be bad at it - for one thing my sense of direction is appalling, and even with Google Maps, I'd probably never make it back to my hotel after the first night!

    I'm definitely drawn to cities, rather than beaches for travelling - I'd love to go to Italy.

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    1. Hi Annalisa,
      I did have a great time, although I did get lost several times. I was confused by the subway system at first, and I kept ending up on trains that were going in the opposite direction of the way that I wanted to go to. I'm also glad that I didn't book a beach vacation because it would have reminded me too much of the trip to Mexico that the Model and his girlfriend took; she posted several pictures of them on the beach, and that's why I don't even like looking at pictures of the ocean right now. I think of my trip to New York as the polar opposite of that type of vacation. And a trip to Italy would be awesome. Now THAT is definitely a place that's full of beautiful art.

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  2. So glad you're feeling better and that you had such a great time in NYC. I like to think that we can be healthy and happy living on our own and that romance and love are the icing on the cake. They enrich life but are not necessary for a happy existence.

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    1. Hi Sandra,
      Thank you! And I am feeling better; I think I needed that vacation to relax, recharge, and help me see that there's this whole other world out there with so much to offer. And I definitely agree that we can be healthy and happy living on our own; I think I could be too. I think that I was conditioned to believe that I should aim for romance and love because most movies, TV shows, and books portray that as the ideal happy ending, if not the only one.

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  3. What an amazing trip. I felt like I was there with you exploring the city. So glad you had a good time and you are feeling better.

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    1. Hi Julie,
      Thank you! I like exploring new places; on my first day there, I didn't even have a detailed plan for what to do. I just brought my guidebook and walked around, stopping whenever something caught my interest, and I had fun. On the other days, though, I did make a to-do list of places to see, so that I could see even more. And I am feeling better; I think this trip came at the right time for me.

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  4. It sounds like you did some very important things for yourself...you dated yourself. :) And that's what we should all do first before diving into a relationship. I'm glad you had a lovely trip.

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    1. Hi Chrys,
      Thanks! And I have to say, I think that it felt good to be on my own because it meant that I could do what I wanted to do and not have to operate on anyone else's time table. For the first time in a long time, I appreciated the fact that I was single. I'm not saying I want to be single forever, but I think that the trip helped me put some things into perspective.

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  5. Sounds like New York was especially good for you. I'm thrilled for you :)

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    1. Hi Lynda,
      Thanks! New York was good for me, especially because it was a big, fascinating city. I feel happier in big cities because there's so much to see and do, and I wish I could go back to living in one again.

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  6. Ooh, love your happy ending! It's so exciting being a tourist in a big city, especially New York, which always has something interesting going on at every hour. Sounds like you had an awesome weekend! I'd say you're well shot of the Model -- even if I was attracted to a guy, if I found out he was a cheater, his hotness level would drop to zero :P
    I like the sound of your hotel room -- it reminds me of the apartment in the Blues Brothers! Speaking of Chicago :-) Every time I see it, I imagine what I might do with a tiny space like that, even despite the trains rumbling by...

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    1. Hi Deniz,
      I knew that the Model was probably dating/hooking up with other people since he and I were not exclusive. But finding out that he had a girlfriend, whom he took to Mexico on a romantic vacation just a couple weeks after he reached out to me, changed everything for me. It made me realize that he viewed her as girlfriend material and me as just a hookup, which broke my heart. But in a way, the situation gave me more clarity and the closure that I needed to finally move on.
      Trust me, that tiny hotel room was not pleasant to stay in. And when I lived in Chicago, I lived in a tiny apartment with expensive rent, and there was a lot of noise going on outside. That was why I often wrote in coffee shops because despite the noise there, it was somehow less stressful than being at home.

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    2. As long as the music isn't bad, I sometimes prefer coffee shops, too -- home is much too distracting. I tend to do the usual procrastination thing of cleaning and organizing rather than writing :P

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  7. Good for you, moving on and finding yourself. We lived in NYC for a bit, and I have a love/hate relationship with the place. Still, I miss the arts. That was the best part.

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    1. Hi Crystal,
      Thank you! I think the problem with the whole situation with the Model was that I lost myself, and now, I'm finding my way back. I've heard that a lot of New Yorkers have a love/hate relationship with the city, which is interesting. I'd love to live there, but the cost of living is too high, especially considering the fact that I'm an English teacher. And I loved the artistic side of New York; it's definitely inspiring.

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