I woke up at 5am today. Well, I didn’t really sleep. I spent an hour in-between asleep and awake. I felt strange. My stomach was churning and my thoughts were racing a mile a minute. I had a sense of urgency to get on the road, a reluctance to leave, the desire to move forward with my life as quickly as possible, and a fear of losing all my savings and having to start from scratch.
I’ve been so cut off from everyone in this city. I didn’t feel like working or socializing at all, and I’ve been going to job interviews for a month thinking, “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?”
I had an idea in my head that maybe I would find my dream job at the last minute and stay in New York forever, but in the back of my mind the decision to leave was already made. For the past week I’ve been alone with my thoughts and counting down the days.
There has been a growing sense of excitement, anxiety and fear. I wanted to just let this trip happen naturally, go with the flow, but it is becoming mired in detail. I don’t want to worry about where I’m going to live when I get to Oakland. I want to figure it out when I get there. I could couch surf for weeks, but I don’t want to burden people. So I have to find a place to stay a month in advance, and now I’m tied to this looming deadline.
I drove to Jacob Riis Beach today in Rockaway. I haven’t driven a car in over 4 years. I bought a $1600 Subaru with a loose stickshift and electrical problems. I’m not the greatest with directions… or driving at night. So, I figured I’d get it all out of the way before I got on the road. I’m still not going near Manhattan.
I just purchased a pricey camera and wanted to catch the sunrise over the beach. I sped along the Brooklyn/Queens expressway chasing the sun the whole way. When I arrived, I found that the whole beach was closed for repairs, I assumed from from Hurricane Sandy. I snuck in the back way and parked on a cement patch next to the sand. The sun was starting to creep over the horizon. I burst out of the car, leaving my car door wide open, and ran to the shoreline to get the footage. I set up my tripod clumsily close to the water’s edge and yelled for joy when I saw the sun climbing higher and higher. It had been long time since I took the time to watch a sunrise. Twelve years ago in San Diego I remember paddling out past the break and watching on my surfboard, but today I recorded the moment.
When I got back to the car a park services representative was next to it yelling, “You can’t park here asshole! You gotta leave or I’ll call the cops!”
I replied, “Oops sorry buddy, I didn’t know”, and took off.
That is my usual response in those situations, feign ignorance. I’m sure I’ll use this method a few more times on this trip as I wander into unknown areas, not knowing where the hell I am.
I drove back to Brooklyn, ate breakfast at a cozy diner in Prospect Heights, then went back home to do a large load of laundry that had been stinking up my room for two weeks. I had a nagging urge to get as much footage of New York as I could. I wanted to get a particular shot of Brooklyn that I saw every day on the bike ride to work. I took the M train over the Williamsburg Bridge and filmed the view of the city from Brooklyn to Manhattan, going back and forth on the train about four times. Then I wandered aimlessly around the Lower East Side for hours, thinking I’d take a bunch of artsy shots of the city, but I ended up not taking any. I think I just wanted to experience being a New Yorker for one more day.
I passed by the Bowery Ballroom, one of my favorite music venues in Manhattan, and a wave of melancholy came over me. I thought, “Why didn’t I come here more often? Why didn’t I take advantage of everything amazing and wonderful about this city?” Its a shame. In every city I’ve lived in, I get stuck in a pattern of home to work, work to home, never escaping the routine. For three years in New York I worked long hours and never really stopped to allow myself to be more a part of the city. I see now what a mistake that was.
The place to see my favorite view of Brooklyn was the G train between the 4th Street stop and Carroll Street. I hopped on to get one last look. During my time here, I took this route up to Williamsburg, down to Sunset, out to Rockaway and Coney Island, exploring every unique Brooklyn neighborhood from the stops.
My last stop was at the edge of the east river. A park with a tiny beach next to the river was the perfect spot to sit and soak in the view. The sun was setting and the lights from Manhattan were appearing. I sat in the sand and filmed the water lapping against the shore and the constant motion of the city lights until it was dark.
It’s now 2:30 a.m and I’m realizing it’s going to be another sleepless night.