At 23rd and 6th Avenue the F train comes grinding to a halt, a final shudder of steel coming to rest on the iron tracks below. A sluggish shuffle begins inside the car. Scarves are readied, books marked and closed, as a phalanx forms around the unopened subway doors.
I wait with the cultivated restraint that can only be learned in New York City, where any pause or halt to one’s progress seems unnatural and unnerving. When the doors separate a drip of adrenaline kicks me into gear. Living here you are in a perpetual state of fight or flight. As a result we have become neuro-chemically mutated, homeopathic junkies proudly displaying our symptoms.
As I exit my subterranean repose, the cold air pinches my cheeks. I mindlessly take my place in the flat-footed ballet grinding along above ground. Chelsea at mid-day is pure cinema verite, my eyes focusing on the oncoming stream of fixed stares. Some give away to peripheral glances, then, just as quickly, return to the gum-stained concrete canvass passing below.
“The loneliness of destiny guides us all”, the internal refrain I hear as I make my way down 23rd Street. I imagine myself Brendan Behan, traveling on well-worn boots, down this well-traveled street, following a well-dreamt dream. My pace remains constant. The metal grates that pass below my feet resemble prison cells; ventilating dungeons housing decades of literary souls, cough up the embers of forgotten prose.
The further West I travel, the more I feel the sting of the air whipping off the Hudson River. Restive feelings overtake me as I approach the doorway to the Chelsea Hotel. The soporific visions of an imagined life here in this very hotel, are also sure to be the same ones that will keep me up at night. A wrought iron façade of abandoned balconies stares down at me. Another young writer-within a lick’s distance of the mouth of the Chelsea Hotel-must be a quotidian sight on this street.
Here I stand with a duffel full of clothes and mementos in hand. The weight of the laptop, encased in the messenger bag slung over my shoulder, has increased exponentially since exiting the subway some blocks back. I'm feel like a marginalized ingrate, not content with assuming my humble slot in humanity. Admittedly, there is nothing worse than helping to perpetuate a tired cliche, but here I am anyway. One more borrowed Beat dreamer cast out of subterranea, looking to have his very own lost weekend...