“I’m not going to write today! Or maybe ever again”, she blurted at me as if she’d been waiting for just the right moment to unleash this sweeping declaration on the world.
“Uh huh”, was my stunted reply. My head was killing me and I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I needed eggs.
We took several steps in silence before, “In fact, I’m not even going to speak unless I have something very important to say!”
“Okay.” I rolled my eyes a little behind my Ray Bans. I was glad the sun was shining, I might be able to get away with leaving them on all day. We sauntered along Broadway towards the downtown 1 train station at 79th Street. We made it another block before she added, “you know, no one is listening anyway, and don’t get me started on how people don’t read. I mean really, what’s the point?”
“Maybe you should become a photographer, that’s like a thousand words a shot – seems much more efficient” I offered, using the most words I had strung together so far on this lovely Sunday. It took a lot of effort.
“Now you’re just making fun of me.” Her tone was more playful than hurt.
“No, I mean it. No one reads, right? You don’t even need to buy a camera. There’s an iPhone in your bag right now.”
As we approached the entrance to the train I got out my Metrocard and descended the steps with Rachel close on my heels. I could feel the air rising up from the tunnels beneath. That hot, dank blast of subway air that tells you you are about to miss your train. If I had been alone, I would have made it. I am excellent at not missing the train, even in the old days when the city ran at a quicker pace. Now it’s like I’m in the Matrix dodging the slow moving, still plugged-in members of the construct in some sort of quick-motion camera effect when I navigate the streets of Manhattan. Underground is no different. Even as hungover as I am I feel like flying down those stairs and weaving in and out of the Sunday tourists coming up to wander around the now mall-like Upper West Side. Today I have Rachel in tow though. She’s not slow exactly, but urgency is not in her vocabulary. Not that we’re in a rush to get downtown, but I always operate at a near run when attempting to get from point A to point B in this city. It’s an attitude from a bygone era.
We make it to the turnstile just as the doors are opening on the southbound 1. Rachel mutters something about her “giant fucking purse” as she rifles through it in search of her Metrocard. I swipe mine and swiftly hand it back to her as I pass through the turnstile. I make it to the train door in time to slip through, but that would mean leaving Rachel on the platform, so I wait.
“They only serve brunch until three”, I shout to her over the rising noise of the departing train. “Unlimited mimosas are why God invented Sunday!” My headache creeps back up on me now that the excitement has receded a bit.
“Please. There’ll be another one in a minute.” I know she’s right, so I don’t argue. We’ll be at the Christopher St. station maybe six minutes later than if we had made the first train. Rachel could choose to be relaxed wherever she was. I wanted to get to the place where the relaxing would be practiced.
Rachel’s latest endeavor is writing. Last year she was an event planner. She helped one of her sorority sisters plan her wedding in a barn upstate, so it was a natural progression, obviously. After the event she was asked to write a piece about the experience for a destination wedding magazine. The kind with more ads than articles and a vendor directory in the back. She was published though, so now she’s a writer. She’s currently working on her own version of 50 Shades of Grey. I’m certain the end goal is a paycheck, but you have to admire her spirit.
“What are you going to order”? Rachel’s superfluous speech embargo has clearly been lifted.
“Brunch”. I chuckled a little to myself. She knows as well as I do, I’m on the breakfast side of brunch and the savory side of breakfast.
“Hey, what the fuck is wrong with you today?”
“Nothing.” Which was mostly true. At least, I couldn’t think of anything else worth saying aloud. It was Sunday, I was starving, my head was pounding and I was looking forward to hair of the dog. I was actively trying to remember the night before. I couldn’t help but think I’d played the whole thing wrong, but since I was making up the rules as I went, there was no one there to tell me one way or the other.
“Well, snap out of it.” Easy for her to say, she went home early.
A train was approaching. I could see its headlights a few yards down the track and I felt that familiar change in the underground air. It had rained yesterday, so there was still that musty wet subway smell in the tunnels and standing water on the tracks. I stared down at the puddles as the rats scurried around looking for a quick snack before ultimately disappearing under the train.
Rachel was right. I was doing that thing I do. I get in a funk over something I can’t change or couldn’t control in the first place and I can’t pull out of it. Combine that with the guilt of having cocktailed myself into oblivion the night before and you’ve got a recipe for bitch on toast. Mimosas should help. There weren’t a lot of great brunch deals left on this island, but luckily my downtown friend Steph had hipped me to a spot on Bleecker with a reasonably priced menu and free flowing alcohol. Just what I needed this Sunday.
The train pulled into the station and we hopped on. The air conditioned car was a welcome relief from the humidity of the damp station. It was only June, but the forecast called for 91 degrees by later that afternoon. On Friday, it had been in the low 70s. Fucking climate change. “You know”, Rachel began “whatever’s bothering you is probably all in your head.” She’s so well adjusted.
“It always is.” Really, there’s always something going on in there to psych me out.
“So, what are you going to order”?
“Something from the menu, most likely.” God! Why am I such an asshole today?