In New York City, I have an exposed brick wall, I have a roommate, I have a bed I bought with my own money, I have a mouse problem (one, which we named (Mickey?), which probably exacerbated the situation). It runs across the counter, boldly, as if it doesn't believe we'll ever do anything about it, or, more likely, it needs to get away, it doesn't care where it's going. It steals the peanut butter we put in the traps. It is good at survival.
I have a library card. I have a job on 116th and Broadway, nine blocks away. I have a moment one night when I realize I will be 30 in three years, and it scares me in a way that I don't completely understand.
What more do I need? I'm already here.
I have an obsession with the bus, I ride it everywhere, it's how I learn the city. I ride it to see a therapist near Columbus Circle who tells me I probably don't care about Judaism as much as I think I do. I walk home, furious, but I never mention it to anyone, and in this way, not much has changed, I still treat distances that are not walkable as if they are, I still let rage hurt me quietly. It's spring, Passover has come and gone, we covered the kitchen in aluminum foil and ate from plastic forks. We spent a day and a night cleaning as though it mattered. In two years, it will turn out that that therapist, who I never saw again after that day, will have been right.
I have a chair I took from my house after my mother died, one of the only things I took. I have dishes that I'm still separating into meat and milk, marked with a blue spot of nail polish or a red one. I have a vague idea of why I'm still doing this, but I have a vaguer one of what would happen if I stopped, and that is worse.
I have a friend from high school who calls at the end of the workday, when I am alone in the office. She lives in the town next door to the one we grew up in, she has a husband, three children, one on the way. She says I'm funny, and I know what she means is, your life is funny, how you live in that city, how you won't get a husband, have a baby. In two or three years, she'll tell me she thought I would have become normal by now, but by then, I won't be angry about it. I'll be sad for her.
In two months, I'll move out of that apartment, my roommate will move to Brooklyn, where it seems everyone is going, if they aren't getting married, if they aren't moving to New Jersey. I'll move into a different apartment with a friend who, instead of hiring movers, asks me to come over and we throw his belongings down the stairs - blankets, garbage bags full of clothes, a cast iron skillet, because when we are together, we make a lot of noise. In the new apartment, we'll split the largest bedroom down the middle with a bookshelf, pay less than seven hundred dollars each, consider ourselves geniuses. In the meantime, I have a coffee shop, I have a bookstore, I have a room that's mine with a door that locks. I have a kitchen, I have a window, I have time. Manhattan is a grid. I have inertia.
Chanel 's writing has been published at Previously.TV, The Billfold, Rewire, Extra Crispy, Cosmopolitan and more. She has an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Follow her on Twitter at @chaneldubofsky.
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