My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

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Archive for July 27th, 2009

New York: Conception, Travel and Arrival

July 27th, 2009 | Category: Life

A few months ago I’m sitting in this smoke-filled dive bar with my friend, Kim. We’ve just met for the first time outside of the internets. So, we’re talking surrounded by a host of drunk people, she tells me that she’s been wanting to go to New York on a train, but nobody wants to go with her. Now, at the time, I’m fairly functionally depressed, but that night, I’m having fun. I like the idea of a trip to New York. I have this Things to Do list, and a post-trache trip without my family is one of my Things to Do. I figure, if I still dig Kim’s company in a few weeks, maybe I could figure out a way to go. I’d need a new assistant. My current best assistant, Sarah, would be gone soon enough, definitely before I could throw a trip together.

Skip ahead to early July. I’m still friends with Kim, I have a great new assistant, Katherine, who does everything I need perfectly, and I’m having nothing but trache troubles. Between late-June and mid-July, I’ve had four different traches in three weeks. One particular morning, I’m coughing like crazy, I’m not breathing well at all. I have to hike it to the e.r. in an ambulance. I’m in the e.r. thinking about a certain woman, how much I love her, and if it matters. I also decide that when I get out, I’m going to text Kim and tell her we’re hopping a train. I get out, I text Kim, we book tickets.

On July fifteenth, Kim, Katherine and I are set to be on a train bound from Tampa to New York. That morning, my family flips out a little bit, they stage something like an intervention, the consensus being that I don’t know what I’m doing, that I have no business trusting this assistant that I’ve had for just two months, that I don’t really know how to take care of myself, and that if I go to New York alone I’m going to die. None of this surprises me. I also find it a little ironic, because in my head I’ve been calling it “the suicide trip.” I mean, I’ve had nothing but trache trouble, I kind of feel like shit, I don’t really know what to expect, but I don’t care. I just keep thinking, fuck it, I’m going. It’s not that I want to die on this trip, at all, but I’m not going to let the simple fact that I could die stop me. I feel like I know what I’m doing just enough. Eventually, thanks to some counter-intervention from another friend, Celeste, people calm down. Celeste has a hatchet tucked under the front seat of her car, which pretty much says that she’s ready to handle any situation, especially zombies. I get on that train.

The ride takes twenty-seven hours because of delays. The biggest delay being that before the train picked us up in Tampa, it hit and killed a fellow. We start calling it “the murder train.” At around midnight that first night, I ask Kim and Katherine, “have either of you ever seen the movie, The Midnight Meat Train?” Kim says, “oh God, don’t talk about that.” I laugh, quietly. I type an old-school offline letter to someone I’m thinking about who’s getting further away as we go North. I write…

So, right now, I’m on the train, not online, but writing to you anyway. It’s night time, the car’s dimly lit, people are asleep. I’m lying on a cozy cushion, on the floor, it’s a nice big area by a window. I’m all lazed out under my fluffy red blanket.  The motion of the train under my back is the sort of thing that relaxes me.

I’m falling asleep now, thinking about you.

I’m definitely glad to be away from Tampa, but not entirely. I figured I’d get on the train and think, “later, Tampa, it’s been real!” I do think that, but not as strongly as I expected. I haven’t missed anyone in this particular way in a long time. It’s a good feeling, a good feeling mixed with melancholy. I think of Elliott Smith songs, and Aimee Mann songs. Songs about things that don’t work out the way we want. Part of me tends to think that Elliott and Aimee are entirely right, while another part of me just won’t accept that life has to suck. This is why I’m a ridiculous romantic, and why I’m in love again, and why I’m on a train that’s crawling toward New York and my possible demise. I do things on the off chance that I’ll experience something good. I’m a dark optimist. I fall asleep. it’s a really good sleep.

We get to New York late on the sixteenth, the folks at Penn Station are quite nice. A fellow hauls our forty-seven bags to street level, we start trying to hail a cab to our hotel. Now, the thing about New York City cabs is that they don’t seem to like picking up wheelchair people, or perhaps it’s just my crazy looking chair. Either way, getting a cab takes some doing, especially because my sort of cab has to be a mini-SUV, or specifically “accessible.” Oh, and I forgot to mention the luggage. So, we need two cabs, at least one big enough to fit me, my assistant, my vent, and my chair. Two cabs finally stop, both big enough to suit us. This is when we get our official “welcome to New York.” There’s this woman behind us, a resident of that particular street corner. she’s swearing at random passersby. We’re getting into our cabs, I get the hose temporarily disconnected from my neck while my vent gets loaded into the car. The woman screams, “oh my God, you pulled the tube out of that child’s throat!” She’s screams, “get that child out of here!” She screams, “I’m calling the police!” Kim tells crazy lady to relax. Crazy tells Kim, “I’m gonna burn your car.” We’re definitely in New York…