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There was a lot mumbling and muttering (or whatever the equivalent is in written form) about NYC during the Das Boot section, and whether or not Jay would end up there next. Well, sure enough, in these pages we find out he did. This section takes up almost directly after leaving the boat, and tracks his efforts during the first months to navigate the city and find a job and, maybe, love. Continues for several months in this fashion.

Hello, NYC! i (25/26)

April 10, 1991

Choose a different dreamscape

Work today at the Met. brings $30 or so in tips plus $197 check (finally!) which, after much unwarranted deliberation and prodding from good old Otto who really couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have cared one way or the other but did his best to summon interest in my overly-petty debate, I cashed at the rollable woodblock cash register. In line w/all the other freaks and savages (present company INCLUDED) that run this joint… reminds me of my semi-daily excursion to the ‘locker room’ where I change into my waiter garb, stash my street clothes, and in general feel like a creature on the edge of extinction: white, middle-class, English speaking, youth. Crikey! The happy jabbering and jockeying in Spanish and Portuguese and NY Swahili and Haitian French and Haitian Creole; it’s a foreign melange, a foreign land down there, this locker room, with foreign smells and foreign skin and foreign languages abundant, and it’s a land that NO traveler or tourist or even adventurist (‘sides me) will ever see. 

So one other thing quick ‘for I nod off toward z-z land: Lying semi-reclined, park bench, gazing over an extension of the aqua-system which laces and collects in puddles and pools (reservoir supreme), throughout the park, and anyway it’s an unbelievably, fantastical and glorious afternoon (not too hot… not too breezy…) the sunny + sparkling lake and the buildings rising beyond the trees, beyond the lake, like doting parents gazing down lovingly into this bassinet, and I’m the baby, and it’s seriously like Central Park these last few days has exploded into the most beautiful oasis I have ever seen  (discounting maybe parts of CO and WY and CA and Paris of course, in the springtime, and Paros, speaking of Paris, with the purple dusk along those empty beaches with the domed white houses on Cyclades hillsides, and, oh yes, that floral village in Tuscany where we stayed when hitchhiking that smelled of citrus and oleander blah, blah, etc, etc, but you get the idea… VERY BEAUTIFUL, here!) and I’m reclined on this bench with my arm hooked through my backpack so no one snags it in passing lest I nod off (I’m a bit paranoid about this and gun shy, since this very thing happened on the train in the Yucatan and I lost EVERYTHING) and my foot doing the same to my bike lest I doze, and it occured to me that (is possible?) perhaps I am “fulfilled?” Perish the thought! I jerked wide awake at that one, bolt upright and wondering who had tricked me, and realized it was just a dream, or maybe gas, indigestion, and it soon passed anyway, and I became suspicious or everything around me and dissatisfied again, like any other good New Yorker hungry for something more. But then, as I relaxed again and dozed, it returned: a weird and unfamiliar sense of… serendipity? of convergence? of alignment? of, dare I say… peace? That I am here, and I’m smack dab in the center of right where I’m supposed to be. Huh. Imagine that!

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