Posting this tonight because I expect to sleep 14 hours and way past 12 noon tomorrow, the hour of truth. It’s an October seasonal-adjustment thing. I’m sleeping 14+hours a night without wanting to.
It was 30 years ago tomorrow when, at 12 noon, I left Tampa for New York, never looking back.
The Amtrak train left the station at 12:00 on the dot, jolting me into place just as I sat down.
Looking out the window I saw my mother pout off into the distance. She wanted me out of the house, her house, always her house. But she didn’t want me gone, expecting me to make a living as a $10/hour pianist at a Dale Mabry car dealership or at the mall.
The train trip out showed me parts of Tampa I’d never seen, but nothing that made me nostalgic or wanting not to leave. I was going, gone, never coming back. I always knew New York was my calling, since an Amtrak layover between Oberlin and Tampa in, I think, 1988.
Wandering around Herald Square I remember how the place felt comfortable, had shared air, free for the breathing. ‘dem wuz the daze. New York felt comfortable to me, moreso than the suburbs. It always has felt that way. I like invisibility, and New York grants you that, if you want it.
I can’t believe I was ever 22 years old and on my own in this town, getting by on a $5/hour job at Tower Records and whatever piano gigs I could scrounge up.
From there I moved on. I made the front page of the New York Times, had a relatively lucrative stint at corporate, lost both my parents, almost lost myself a frightening number of times, had what I guess you’d call a “career” as a classical pianist before resolving I didn’t want that, biblically knew women spanning the gamut from celebrity starlets and Broadway dancers to trashy strippers and the girl(s) next door, spent humiliating nights at Mt. Sinai being detoxed for “Alcohol Abuse”, got a crisis counseling/suicide prevention phone installed on the RFK/Triborough, and done a lot of other cool shit, if I say so myself, depending how you define “cool”. 30 years in New York hasn’t been perfect but it hasn’t sucked ass, either.
It still feels like I’m just getting started.
October 20th, 1990, 12 noon on the dot, a second I will never forget.
Iiiiiiiiiiiiii’m going to sleep.