Thursday, March 22, 2007

when life hands you tickets

today was specially marked on my calendar.

there were little stars around the edge of the box, and in pencil overlined with pen, it read: THE EVAN AND JARON CONCERT IS TODAY. then, in smaller, bluer letters: please go. you bought a ticket.

it was such a pitiful little note it almost made me feel bad for myself.

but let's back up, lest i leave you with the impression that i am a major fan of evan and jaron. my main connection to evan and jaron is that back in the day when they had a song on the radio - which for the life of me i can't remember, except i think it had a line about a window in it somewhere - there was a family myth passed down by my grandmother that my aunt had once dated one of them. "they were famous and handsome and did your aunt care? no! she is crazy, your aunt." something of that nature. also, i think my dad used to talk about being in their van...but perhaps that was a different band.

no, the reason i wanted to go was because i realized somewhere along the line tt the semester is drawing to a close, and i have not done a single extracurricular thing since winter break. my week is pretty straightforward. i go to work. i go to school. i stay in the computer lab till sunrise writing features and tweaking computer design projects. and, when life is good and american idol is having an off night, i do aerobics.

when i really want to go nuts, i contemplate crocheting.

so the other day i received a mass e-mail about how yu is arranging an evan and jaron concert to raise money for something, and i determinedly set aside the money to buy myself a ticket, foolishly thinking that once i had bought the ticket, i would make the time for it. this way, i told myself, i will have a night just to be a teenager and hang out with my friends and let them know i still appreciate them even if i never do more than nod enthusiastically at them from across the street. i will take part in a social scene and make new friends and blah blah blah. i mean, it worked at my freshman orientation, right?

last year i was all over the place, i thought to myself, trying to remember my password to the computer lab. i had the radio show, and i went to speeches, and i went out to movies and pizza with people, and we would all go on lengthy and random explorations of the city - although they usually ended up by a park or a river, because those things are cool and free. free was definitely a requirement, even last year, but somehow i ended up having many interesting adventures. whereas now, when one of my classes cancels and i find myself with a two hour gap, i go back to my room and sleep it all away.

it bothered me that i did this. and i thought the concert would be easy. i love music, and i haven't been to a live performance in a long time. as a compromise, i told myself i could take the crochet.

but the concert started fifteen minutes ago, and i am not there.

it was very warm today in new york - sixty-five degrees. i worked for most of the day, went to two classes that blurred together, and started to walk home from school. just that walk in between the buildings made me realize that i hadn't been outside in the daylight on a weekday for weeks either. even as that thought ocurred to me, in the back of my head, a little voice was ordering the night ahead into half-hour segments, scheduling when i would write which paper and when i would exercise and what time my roommates would come back and...

and i walked right past my dorm, and kept walking.

at first i walked very quickly, because there were people all around me closing me in, and it was warm enough not to wear a heavy coat, so without all that bulk i felt as light as a rocket - like i could walk faster than a car. but as block after block went by, my pace slowed. people waiting at traffic lights with me grew clearer, their features sharper. i saw a rock band with their guitars on their back and faded red t-shirts arguing about subway fares. i saw a man pushing triplets with pink-pill fuzzy hats in a stroller. i saw an exhausted businessman trudging up the sloped side of first avenue, carrying his suit jacket over one shoulder and his briefcase over the other, with startling dark blue eyes.

and then i wondered, you know, if they were colored contacts.

i started looking up at the buildings around me, and at the sky, which was actually still light, though it clogged up by oily-looking clouds. the skyscrapers are all drastically different. the un is made from blue-green glass, it's algae colored; the trump building is all black, straight and sleek as an attena. crowds of diplomats scattered along the weird cobble-stoned pavement like flocks of crows, but then when i looked for them, i saw that there weren't any crows. just pidgeons. lots and lots of over aggressive pidgeons.

i found myself by the river, watching what the people in queens were doing on the other shore; screaming at taxis, a barge full of - i could almost swear - pampers, gliding along with the current. by then it was already dusk, and there were all these lights like little sequins glinting out from across the river and over the bridge. all different colors: red, purple, blue, green. white, in the high-rises. whenever i look at that river i start thinking about george washington, even though i'm pretty sure he didn't conquer jersey that way. the famous painting of him in the boat - that's the potomac, right? it was so hard to step around all the dog poop and trash on the cement of the riverwalk, i began to seriously wonder if i, too, could set off to conquer jersey. for some reason i felt like it must be cleaner there.

but as i was standing there, looking out at the river, what was probably queens, and all the little lights and bridges and skyscrapers stretching over the horizon, i realized that i was never going to make it back for the evan and jaron concert. i looked down into the river and i saw my reflection: my cheeks and nose were a violent red, my hair had frizzed so much from walking in the damp that it looked like i had spiderwebs clinging to my head, and my chapped lips were pale and bleeding a little. my skirt had gotten twisted and wrinkled while i was walking, and my shirt looked very weary. i thought about the kinds of girls who were going to the concert, what they would look like. i thought about what i would look like next to them. it's no wonder i always look wrong in pictures.

and then this sentence popped into my head:

i'd rather be alone.

what i really wanted, looking down at that beautiful river and the beautiful, rainy sunset above it, was for everybody else in the world to be gone so i could enjoy it in peace. i didn't want to worry what i looked like, though i knew that even by new york's widened standards, i was approaching the 'old crone' zone with dangerous alacrity. i didn't want to think about my homework or my projects or even my friends. maybe i just wanted to be invisible. it didn't bother me, the other people leaning over the railing and talking loudly on their cell phones, because somehow, out there, with all that sky over my head, it didn't seem like anything a person said could be that loud. but i didn't want anyone to see me. i wanted to watch everyone and everything without it watching back.

a friend told me once that i must be made of water because i always drag her out to fountains and rivers. water's always by itself; it's always at a distance. i started to wonder if she was right. then all of a sudden there was a single bolt of thunder and it started to pour.

that, i thought grimly, clinches it.

at first i fell back on default, scampering along as quickly as i could, cursing myself for not bringing a coat, for choosing to walk in the one section of new york where there is no cover, for trusting our ambivalent weather for even an hour. gradually, however, i realized it was not that bad. yeah, it was raining. so what? it was still warm. i found an exit to the street and started wandering the avenues, looking for a subway, but not looking that hard. i'd gone a long way, and i hadn't seen this section of the city in a long time. there were new stores. new hipsters bumming out in front of the barnes and nobles. new fountains, even. later, as i was waiting for my train to come, i heard the two guys in front of me joking - tanned so brown they looked orange, decked out in chic t-shirts and sweatshirts and jeans - and i realized, to my alarm, that a) they were speaking in hebrew and b) i understood them.

they cracked each other up about how lame new york was, they worried that they'd never figure out where to transfer, they commiserated about their condescending american hosts. i stood right behind them and, silently, i answered them, surprised by the words forming sentences in my head. 'we're going to end up in brooklyn,' one of them noted ruefully. 'what does he mean, take the c to the l?' i wanted to tell them in hebrew, but i was too embarassed. so i waited for the train, listening and smiling to myself.

a couple minutes before some irish guy in a newsboy cap propped his guitar case open by a subway bench, took out a capo, and started singing some kind of country-blues. he was young, maybe younger than me, but the tunnels made his voice carry and he was playing open chords (i think that's what they're called) that sounded almost perfectly in the echoey space- good acoustics, my mom would approve. and he wasn't afraid of us. he had a decent voice and a simple, catchy song. by the time the train had come people were gathering around him, clapping off beat and nodding cautiously. even i had taken off my headphones.

so you see, i got my concert after all.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Emily said...

In case you were wondering, the song that they wrote was "Crazy for this girl" which I hadn't heard for years and found again this winter break. Listening to it feels very much like freshman year in highschool for me.
Anyway, it sounds like you had a good evening. That's what college is really about I think :)

9:54 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

That's funny, my ideal vacation would also be everyone else going away and leaving me alone.

For the record: I have no idea about your aunt (but your grandmother says I have no memory so who knows). I did ride in Evan and Jaron's van.

I flew out for a Shlock Rock show in Atlanta a few years back and one of them came to the show with Etan G, and they took us around town in this pimped out custom van. But it was not as pimped out as the PTMobile.

7:14 AM  
Blogger RaggedyMom said...

Something about your vivid descriptions of the city and your feelings really resonated with me. Rather than wash the floor during Andy's nap, I was really compelled to read this through in one sitting. (And I got to the floor later!) At points, this post was almost like a Great Gatsby for 2007 - so thanks for the great reading.

10:57 AM  
Blogger fudge said...

i'm really glad that you liked it. i know this post was kind of bizarre, but everything just looked so cool, i wanted to show it to y'all.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

This post wasn't bizarre, it was just...

...[thinks]

...true.

My idea of a break is sitting on a bus, head against the window, rain coming down softly outside. You just reminded me why... and I just realized why a picture I was looking at tonight is a favorite of mine. It's my baby daughter, staring out a rain-soaked window of a car while we're on a trip, looking peaceful, inquisitive, and thoughtful all at once. Now I get why. Thank you for this post - it truly resonated with me.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Balabusta said...

First of all, there is no d in pidgeon. Its a pigeon, look it up.

Secondly, Jersey is definately not cleaner, if you don't believe me consult your nose.

And lastly, next time, take a jacket.

2:09 PM  
Blogger outofAMMO said...

it was 65 degrees!

6:46 PM  
Anonymous spelling queen said...

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, Mrs. B.--it's definitely, not definately--look it up.

7:53 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

It's Go-Time.

7:18 AM  
Blogger tuesdaywishes said...

Learning Hebrew? My daughters will be so proud of you!

Living in a dorm, I am not the least bit surprised at your need to get away from people and voices and facese for a while.

When I retire, I'm going to live in a cabin in the woods. I think I was a tree in a previous life.

2:44 AM  
Blogger Alisha said...

Fudge, I know this is a very old post but maybe you'll still get this comment emailed to you. I've been reading through your archives and enjoying them greatly. I've had the impulse to comment several times, but it seemed silly to call you back to something you wrote years ago, so I kept convincing myself to wait until I was caught up.

You've gone through experiences that I relate to so strongly from my college years, and you recognize their significance at the time. You're wise far beyond your age. And you're a fantastic writer, able to capture so much. This post in particular is a gem. Having grown up in Manhattan, I've spent much of my life running away from it, but there is a distinct character to the city that's unlike anywhere else, and you made it nearly tangible. Well done!

9:41 PM  

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