For the first time ever, a few days ago, I hated New York. I was on a midnight run which started out rather pleasantly along the Brooklyn Bridge and then Battery Park. As I passed yachts, sailboats and twinkling city lights I thought about how on my very first trip to NYC at the ripe age of twenty, I looked fondly at runners jogging along Battery Park and thought, that will be me one day. A part of me was a little shaken with the knowledge that I had so aptly foreseen this day, that I was indeed living in New York and running along Battery Park. The rest of me however was hot and parched. So hot that I kept looking for ladders into the Hudson because I was seriously considering diving in, if only I could get back out.
By the time I wove my way back around to make the trek home, I was a little crazed with my want for water. I started sizing up puddles, fountains and forgotten water bottles on benches and asked myself how bad it would really be if I drank up? I mean the human body is quite resilient, no? A mild case of scurvy would totally be worth it just to soothe my dry and aching throat.
I didn't even make it midway through the park before I veered inland to try my hand at begging a bartender to give me a glass of water. I ran and ran not seeing any sign of anything other than parking garages. I then questioned whether I could run into one of those and ask the parking attendant if I kissed him would he find me water, admittedly not the most enticing deal with the sweat pouring down my face, but at this point I understood that I was going mad for thirst.
I finally, finally spotted a Burger King at about mile seven and felt like I was reaching the Holy Land, but upon grasping the door, I saw that they were closed. Lucky for me there was a pizza place nearby so I ran in and asked if I could please have a cup of water. I already knew this was going to be an issue, as I have lived in NY long enough now to know that they expect you to buy something in order to get a freebie. But I thought they must see me and have compassion, mustn't they?
The guy behind the counter pointed to the water bottle case and I began to feel panicked.
"Um, no not a water bottle. Could I just have a cup for water?"
He looked a little helpless and turned to a co-worker. The new angrier looking one sized me up and said, "fifty cents."
Honestly, I wanted to scream, look at me! I was drenched in sweat and heaving. Clearly I was not out on a late night pizza stroll.
"I don't have my wallet," I could feel myself pleading and already the look of haughty disdain on the co-worker's face made me feel like I was a beggar on any one of the streets I passed each day. "Couldn't I just have the cup... I am on a run..."
He smirked and that's when I felt like I'd been slapped. Then followed up with, "I just work here." And then he shrugged and proceeded to ignore me.
I whipped around in fury, clutching my headphones and ran out the door to try and make it to the next location, which happened to be a McDonald's about a block away. I got in and the line was huge and quite frankly I was terrified I would get the same embarrassing treatment. So I made a beeline for the bathroom.
Once in I saw that there was someone in a stall but propriety be dammed at this point, I set my phone down, turned on the faucet, cupped my hands under the tepid McDonald's tap water and began to guzzle like a buffalo. I could not stop. It almost felt like I hadn't had water in weeks. I kept trying to reel myself in, because the girl could come out at any moment and see this maniacal sight, but I just couldn't get a hold of myself. Finally I stopped, moved into the stall and waited for the girl to come out so I could go back at it. She seemed in no hurry, so I went back to the faucet and drank until my stomach couldn't take any more and then I grabbed my things and left.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on my way home, I couldn't get that pizza man's rude smirk out of my head. And it wasn't even his smirk and refusal to give me water that made me the most mad, it was the fact that I really knew that'd be the case going in, but wanted it to be different. I wanted, like always, to believe the best in humanity and the best in New York. Whenever I have high expectations though and they get crushed, it's a rather nasty blow to recover from.
And because of this one tiny thing, which felt like a symbol for all big expectations as of late that haven't gone my way, I got to my street and started to cry. Because I thought, if I don't love New York, then what do I love?
Ahh, dramatic, but of course. But that's just me and like any girl who loves something fiercely, she can tell you that you may discover the side of your love you never wanted to see, you may be disappointed at that side, but you don't give up on your love. You give it another go, even if begrudgingly.
So although I was shocked and horrified that anything could ever make me hate my city, I was warmly enthused when my first night on the town since the incident, tonight, I found my city did nothing but deliver for me.
She showed me dapper men in suspenders, to which I had to do not one but several double takes
And gave me a date with The Strand bookstore
A stroll through Little Italy and feasting my eyes, not my mouth though, on plate after plate of heaping spaghetti, wine, and large Italian paintings
And film crews and cameramen for I don't know what, some models or a TV show, but gosh it felt scintillating and though I didn't stop and ogle because I wanted to appear to be a posh New Yorker with better things to do than be a Looky Louise, I secretly felt thrilled wondering what I was privy to
And chocolate pecan samples on the house from Max Brenner's, just when I needed something sweet
My dear city knew she'd upset me and wanted to win me back over. And though I pouted for a few days and re-thought the relationship, ah, my sweet love proved me right. A great love is always worth sticking around for.