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Facing West

November 23, 2011

This morning I had eggs, latkes and a bagel at Katz’s Deli in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Now I’m in a Comfort Inn outside Wheeling West (By God) Virginia. My head is spinning, really hard.

I loved New York. I want to live there.

Last night I parked my car in the Bowery and was walking back toward the full-funk hostel where I was staying when I passed a small café. There was a slight chill in the air and it was drizzling rain. The café entrance was down a few steps and a handful of patrons were spilling out onto the small patio between the sidewalk and the door. There was talking and laughing and the place seemed warm and alive, an inviting contrast to the cold wet loneliness of the sidewalk. I stopped and looked. A beautiful woman in a shiny red dress was leaning out the door. She looked at me and said HI, and I said HI back. I asked if they were still open and she said, in a luscious accent, “Yes, well, it’s my birthday and we’re having a party, and you’re welcome to come in and have some cake.” I went in and sat at the bar and realized most people there were speaking Russian. The bartender, Tatiana (yes.. seriously) steered me toward one of their homemade infused vodkas and I sat and chatted with a guy sitting at the bar. (New Yorkers are so much friendlier than San Franciscans. What’s up with this?) As I was starting to leave, shiny red dress started dancing a tango with one of her suitors. I was mesmerized and tingling, watching and mentally inserting my own hands, my feet, my body into the mix.

I want to live there. In New York. And I want to live in that spontaneous tango.

Driving today from the edge of the East coast with Manhattan still buzzing at my back, toward West Virginia and Ohio, my home states, it felt like I was coming full circle. Looking at my past, from behind, in the light of the present. Or something like that. I feel like I’m sneaking up on myself. When I look at the drawing I’ve made of the trajectory of my life on the map in my head, I’m standing at the Ohio river facing the West coast. It’s very late on a very rainy night in West Virginia, and I’m staring at the back of my own head.

Tomorrow I’m meeting family in Ohio for Thanksgiving. I can smell them pies from here.


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  1. Lisa Mischke permalink

    My favorite sentence: “I want to live in that spontaneous tango.”

  2. Thanks, Lisa! I actually want to change that to “…a spontaneous tango.” I’m such a perfectionist. It’s why I have trouble posting here.

  3. Well written stuff, my friend. Hope your travels are going well. I wish you’d write more here! Bob

  4. Lisa Mischke permalink

    Jeff, while not letting the great be the enemy of the good and all that, being detail-oriented is part of what makes a good craftsperson. Which is a necessary but not sufficient factor in making good art. Having read the first iteration of this that you posted, I actually noticed your change in the sentence before the paragraph with “spontaneous tango,” which set up the subsequent statement in a much more juicy way.

    Okay, time to tend to my own details and sit my ass down at the piano!

    ps “Spontaneous Tango:” new band name!!

  5. Fabulous. The idea of looking at the past from behind, in the light of the present, is amazing. In our conversations and in this post, I can see you looking at the back of your own head. New York it is, then. One of my favorite places to visit.

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