I remember when I moved to Seattle in '95 it was because I miserable out East. I needed to reinvent myself, that was first on the to-do list, but also I needed to put a lot of things behind me. And I remember when I got to Seattle, after months of cross-country driving (God, this seems so long ago!), I met someone who asked me what my story was. And after I told him he said, "You know, you can't run from your problems," and I said, "That's bullshit. Of course you can run from your problems, and that's exactly what I've just done."
I'm so smart. I mean, I forgot the "You can't hide" part of it, but mostly it worked.
So I guess when I moved to Brooklyn, way out here on the Southside, where there is no reason to visit (as opposed to the East Village, where there's three bars on every block), I knew I was running again, this time from people. Men, I guess, mostly, though some women, too. And I was hiding from my former corporate life, because at my peak at my last position, I was incredibly good at my job but suffering from severe burnout. (When I went - briefly - into therapy this year I told my therapist, "I should have really been here a year ago. I was much more fucked up then. Now I'm just dealing with the aftershock.") I wanted to create a low-impact environment for myself, where the opportunity for stress was almost entirely eliminated.
Sick of running into your slimy ex-boyfriends at 7B? Move to Brooklyn!
Tired of seeing your former co-workers from three jobs ago who want to network and/or gossip with you? Move to Brooklyn!
Over catching up with people who used to drugs in the bathroom with you every single goddamn Friday night? Move to Brooklyn!
Not that there aren't ex-boyfriends, or co-workers, or people who do drugs here - this is Williamsburg after all - but it's a hell of a lot easier to keep a low profile walking to the deli on a Friday night here, then it is on 13th Street and 2nd Ave.
So I guess this is why I have begun to loathe going out in the city on the weekends. Beyond the drunken crowds, there is that sinking feeling that at any moment someone from your past is going to kiss your cheek and then ask, "So...what are you doing now?" And then you will have to excuse yourself to vomit.
I think you all know where this is going. I innocently attend an art opening last night, thrown by the good folks at Emerging Arts. I escaped unscathed (had a lovely time, actually), because the opening is at Lolita, and that's far enough off the beaten path that no one goes there but locals. But then I went to the heart of it all, Rivington and Essex, and that's where the trouble starts.
I was meeting Krucoff for a drink, a quick one, on my way home. I should mention I like Krucoff tremendously. I have met few men as open as him before. Well, let's put it this way - he wears his heart on his sleeve, with his sleeve rolled up, which is to say, he won't be forthcoming unless you ask gently, and then he's exceptionally candid and articulate about himself. And you don't really get that in your average guy, so it's always nice to see him.
After a few drinks and several shades of soul revealed, it's time to catch a cab. As I'm bidding Krucoff goodnight, up walks an ex, one that I haven't seen in three years, one that I hoped I'd never see again. He was the one I sold my pride to, the one I sold my values to; he was the one I had the affair with. I still feel bad about it now, even though they broke up three months later, and I knew he was heading out the door. I know there's all this open relationship crap going on these days, but his was definitely not an open relationship. He was clearly cheating on his live-in girlfriend of five years with me, and I was clearly aware I was a participant in the deception.
So it's more than just running into the ex who faded away or never called again, or the ex who cheated on you thus forcing you to throw blunt objects at his head, or the ex who you dumped simply because you were PMS-ing. This is the ex who is a party to you feeling a little bit less worthy about yourself. This is the ex who impacts the extent of your self-righteousness, and in this city, that's all we have left sometimes.
The conversation went something like this:
Him: Jami! (Looks excited, then remembers who she is, and looks less excited)
Me: Hi. (Looks excited, then remembers who he is, and looks like she is going to puke.)
Him: How are you?
Me: Good. How are you?
Me: GOOD. (Said in tone that indicates he should leave now, as there is nothing more to be said.)
Him: GOOD. (Laughs in a way that says, "I hear you, sister.")
Then he turns and walks aways down Essex, hopefully, please God, never to be seen again.
I'd like to say I forgot about it the second it happened, but it made me kind of depressed last night. I was not at my best during that time of the affair, and it did not end nicely and I cried an awful lot. I'd like to think I'm a different person now, a little stronger, a little better, a little more sure of myself. Perhaps that was my last gasp of insecure behavior associated with being in your twenties, which has seriously dissipated now that I'm in my thirties. Perhaps I really liked him. I do know that I'd never do anything like that again.
But I could take no comfort in that feeling last night, as I sat lonely in Brooklyn. I sat with my knees pulled up to my chin, cheek resting on knees, looking out at the one bright light they left on at the yeshiva across the way. It was beaming into my apartment like a full moon, and I liked it at first, and then I hated it, because I realized it would be on all night, and there was nothing I could do about it. I closed the curtains, and that helped a bit.