Here is something that really bothers me about having left New York: now, when I do things, I’m not doing them there. I’m doing them here. In Dallas. And, I know this might sound a bit wrinkled, but try and follow my line of thinking for a moment – even though I do nearly the exact same things there that I do here, for some reason when I do things here I sometimes experience a profound sense of confusion and loss, as if I’m playing the role of a housewife in an indie film who has let herself go, has lost her direction. I feel totally alone, even when I’ve got the kids with me. But when I did those things there, while living in New York – going to Target to pick up body wash, for example, or taking my kids to the dentist – I instead experienced a profound sense of excitement, as if I was going to lunch at Bergdorf's every day of the week, when really I was just going to pick my son up from preschool, or buying 2-for-1 produce at the fruit stand.
I’m thinking of a time in Brooklyn when my older son was very sick. It was the middle of October, and the day was so beautiful, so yellow and crisp and very clear, with a strong fall breeze whisking all the street trash around like dancers, that I couldn’t stop smiling. I opened all the windows in our apartment. The kind of day that makes you want to listen to Springtsteen’s “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” very loud. But here was my poor baby, nothing more than a toddler really, so sick, with a thick green runny nose and a horrible cough. We were getting ready that morning to pack up and go to the doctor.
I chose a terrific outfit, because it was one of the first days that it was cold enough to wear tights. Kulots had just come back in fashion, and I had a perfect pair in charcoal grey, with an ocean-blue turtle neck sweater, and – above all things, matching ocean blue tights to go with it. It was a killer outfit, especially when I put on my clogs with it, and a neon-orange vest. I could have starred in an American Apparel ad.
So, I put my son in the stroller, and we stepped outside on this gorgeous day, and I had just dyed my hair red and my outfit was so smart, so fitting for the day, and I walked out the door of our somewhat falling-down apartment building, and I had to walk 6 blocks to where our car was parked on the street, and those six blocks were filled with literally every single kind of person. Black, white, Hispanic, Hassidic Jew, Orthodox Jew, Middle Eastern Muslim, Indian Muslim, Bangladeshi; Polish, Russian, Eastern Block, Midwestern American, African, old, young, kids, teenagers in wheelies, tiny babies, stray dogs. And we were one of throng! Dedicated mother, taking sick baby to the doctor! And the feeling that all those people, literally a whole world of people waiting right outside our apartment door, on that beautiful October day, with a sick baby, was nothing more than exhilarating.
(The baby was fine, by the way. Just a serious cold.)
But here, in Dallas, when we are off to the doctor, we get in the car alone. We proceed to the office alone, down beautifully landscaped avenues where all the interesting folks are locked up behind tightly closed car windows. We park in a large parking lot, where no one ever seems to be parking or leaving, just a bunch of lonely cars waiting in rectangles. I see no reason to drag out the kulots, certainly not the tights, because even with everything I’ve got to do all day, I’ll actually see only a handful of people, and interact with even fewer. Our last few years in NYC, after we had the kids, we didn’t do a lot of the things that make New York New York. We weren’t out at the bars every night, at every PS1 opening, enjoying theater and culture ad nauseum like we used to do. But, even the everyday things, the most mundane things, still seemed like such an adventure.