Thursday, June 05, 2003

Battle of the Bays

I hate intersections the way Californians hate traffic on the Bay Bridge or the 405, the way New Yorkers hate long elevator rides in their towering skyscrapers. You are briskly walking along and then you're halted. You patiently pause for the leaning man to light up. You stare at it as is keeping your eyes fixated on it will expedite the light to change. You tap your feet. You climb closer to the edge of the curb, you are in the position of "on your mark, get set, walk." Now, the only worse situation is when you do not know where you are headed. Then, you're at the crosswalk hoping the light will allow enough time for you to ask for directions. Note: this is not an easy task in the middle of Manhattan, asking a New Yorker for directions is asking them for 30 seconds of their time; 30 seconds could mean missing the train, a cab, or far worse, waiting for the next leaning man.

I am that lost person at the crosswalk. Except, I am pestering Californians for some guidance. These Californians include family, friends and even perfect strangers. No disrespect to family and friends but truth be told, fortuitous encounters lead me closer to a decision. Family and friends play the obligatory role of providing advice that won't come back to bite them in the ass- they are begrudgingly present in the aftermath of a decision. Whereas, outsiders can shoot their shit and be on their merry way. They can exploit the freedom of falsifying wisdom and preach their words with utter confidence in knowing that do not have to face the raft of their ever-so-wise words.

The scene: Saturday Night, Dragon Bar, North Beach SF. "This place closes at 2?!?" an infuriated man yells. "Every bar closes at 2 a.m. in California" a brave woman bellows. He downs his drink, slams the glass into an ashtray and lights up a Marlboro Red. Marlboro Red? This was kismet. Not many of these Dirty Harry smokers around, incidentally my vice of choice. Upon "chance encounter" *wink wink* I ask the volatile man for a cigarette. He ignites my juicy red and I ignite a conversation. He informs me of what I may have guessed, he's from New York. I let him know that I may be headed out there this fall for school. Soon, not sure how it started but we're engaged in a relentless debate representing our native coasts. After 20 minutes of heated banter, he asks the inevitable question that everyone has asked when I have prompted family and friends for advice, "If you love it here so much, why do you want to leave? What is it that you want? What is it that you need?" In efforts to dodge this unavoidable question, I thanked "Bob" for the smoke and scouted for my friends.

Laying in bed, feeling the fade of my buzz from the Tanqueray Tonic consumed 3 hours ago- such a sorry ass lightweight *roll eyes* I attempt at an answer for the age-old question of "what you want?" versus "what you need?" These questions are duality at its best, more often than not, they are in opposition.

What I want is to have a cigarette, what I need is to quit. What I want is a full calorie soda, what I need is to drink diet, or even worse, water. What I want is a job that pays well, what I need is a job that pays period. What I want is a rent-controlled apartment, what I need is probably to find a roommate, "ughhh" I LOVE living with me, just me. Just me and my empty fridge, oven for shoe storage and take out menus cluttering my kitchen drawers. The only TLC I need to provide are for my handbags- they receive gentle leather oil masks weekly. What I want is the new Fendi Biga, what I need is to ask my younger brother for yet another loan. What I want is to meet someone I have undeniable chemistry with, what I need is to meet someone I have undeniable chemistry...isn't that life? In the anomalous chance that what you want and need comply, neither are unattainable *shaking head* Finally, what I want is to not leave family, friends, and the place I have lived all my life. What I want is to be around for friends' birthdays. To hold their hair back over toilets while asking them what they drank, because that's what alleviates the suffering, reminding them of what got them there. I want to be around to answer the phone when my endearingly narcotic mother complains about my stepdad's overtly laid-back nature. I want to be around for when my stepdad calls to ask if I have been out to the ocean lately. Ocean? The Pacific Ocean I see all the time when crossing into the city. The question is am I ready to replace my sun setting ocean, view of two bridges with the sunrising ocean and the site of the Staue of Liberty?

I need to live the harsh reality of not having free dry-cleaning courtesy of the parents' business. I need to sacrifice the leisure of music and smoking while driving and travel via public transportation. I need to accept that last season's Marc Jacobs strappy stilettos are still out of my range and that I'll have to hop on the L train to Chinatown where I can afford Mark Jasons. I need to find a Dean and Deluca to study at where I can fill up on a landslide of lattes before emailing my professor for an extension on my script. I need to meet girls half as cool as mine of whom I can perpetuate my MAC make-over sessions with, only to wait in line for two hours at Club Lotus in the muddied snow ruining my new Mark Jasons. I need to expect a major difference from attending undergrad 40 minutes from home and grad school 4000 miles from home. I need to recognize that I will be attending graduate school at an institution amongst some of the finest in my study but that it will be okay because I have had competitive conditioning at my undergrad college. I need to adjust to living in a city with a population density of 10 people per square foot. I need to learn to wait a crosswalk with 50 other Manhattanites.

Damn Crosswalks. Push the button. Know where to go. Then cross. It will be okay because the one nice thing about crosswalks is that they're two way. You can always cross back.