The night is oppressively hot, and the only thing that keeps it tolerable is the winds coming in off of New York Harbour. The heavy bass of the drums land in time as Santana's guitar notes drift out of the bar and ride the currents; whoever sings "Maria, Maria" is serenading the streets of this town that is so often packed with wandering masses of overdressed men and women but is tonight a ghost town; empty, echoing, hazy, a reminder that the state forgets everything but the Shore during the Glorious Fourth.
View of NY from across the river...
"She don't believe in shootin stars, but she believe in shoes and cars...."
She is about my height in her heels, wearing a black dress with her long blond hair strewn about. She is cute, but my friend's girlfriend tells me that she would be ugly with short hair; evidently this is a measuring stick for good looking women.
All I really want to do in this town is go to a damn rooftop bar, because I'd imagine that drinking on a rooftop would be entertaining (at least as long as I stayed away from the edge). Of course, that doesn't seem to be happening on this night.
It's been about a month and a half since I've been drunk and my tolerance is lower than ever. The beers hit me quick and furious as shots of Jameson come over the top, doing damage like check hooks from an infighter. One great curved, wall is tiled in gold and looks like it should be covered by a waterfall; cone-shaped lights with an oriental feel hang lazily over the bar, bathing the bartenders in red lights.
She walked up to my buddy immediately after we got there, and started her game. It's a street hustle on a higher class; she flips her hair, twirling it around her neck, bats her eyelashes. She talks to him for a while, and I'm momentarily jealous. Ten minutes later he wanders back over.
"Fuckin girl came out and asked me, 'You gonna' buy me a drink?'"
"You did I guess?" I ask.
"Yea. What the hell am I gonna' say? That's like ten bucks for one of them, but I had to."
Later on it looks like his ten bucks might get him somewhere, as he's sitting on a couch talking to her, trying to work his way in.
Again, he appears after twenty minutes this time.
"Said she had to go home," he says. "Says she was a model. Had a photoshoot early tomorrow."
"On a Sunday huh?"
"Yea... she was full of shit. That's OK though, cause I was an accountant tonight."
---- --- -- ---- --- - -- - - - -
This town is remarkable; I bitch about it but I love it, and in all my hypocritical glory I will end up living here at some point. A writer for the New York Sun once wrote a series of articles on the Mafia violence that owned the Hoboken waterfront, leading to the movie that changed the way people perceived "corruption".
Line after line of old factories still sit here, strewn amongst the row houses that have become some of the most expensive property in the state. Bars, restaurants, and expensive stores line the streets during the day, and the lights go dim for the drinking crowds that rule the nights. All of this, while the heavy multicolored lights of New York City loom across the river, the eyes of the great bustling metropolis with blinking bulbs that brawl with the darkness.
People come out to this town to see each other, to be seen, like celebrities do at a Laker's game. Not that anyone knows anyone, mind you- it's certainly not the kind of place where you see old high school friends... Bruce Springsteen does not sing about Hoboken bars, Kanye West does. Things like that used to grate on me, but that anger isn't there anymore. I have much to lose, and by getting blind drunk at town bars, I'm only setting myself up for the inevitable arrest on a multitude of charges.
It doesn't mean who I am has changed at all, mind you. I'll always laugh at girls like that one who conned my buddy out of a drink, and any man that wears capris is going to get a "Where's the flood, asshole?" comment from me; it's my nature.
Regardless of that, the thing I really like, and cannot find anywhere else except for NYC, is the feeling I get when I'm there. It's one of the few times that my overactive mind never feels like it's missing something. I'm across the river from perhaps the greatest city in the world, and likely with some very interesting people. I'm in good bars with beautiful women, and the world is, for however fleeting, at my feet.
This has been important to me in the last few months, because there has been a nagging emptiness that was there in heavy formality last night. I've dealt with it by sobering up, which is a hell of a change for me... but feeling decent physically has still left me hurting. It's not a straight depression- no, I'm too lively for that.
What it is is a strange existential feeling that simply says, "Is this it?"
I don't have a job so much as a career now, and all my sights are set on that burning city across the river. I've got a car that's far nicer than anything I should own, I get a decent amount of women, and I have no true worries of any sort... but it's missing. The only time I feel good is when I'm lifting or boxing (my only respites in this troubling world) and even those have had to take the backseat since I separated my shoulder.
Other than that, I'm just sitting and wondering, constantly, what I'm doing, where I'm going, how my life is going to be. I hear US Census projections for 2040, and realize that I'll be 56 then. A year older than my grandfather when he died, 34 years older than Ryer when he died. Throw 20 more years on that, and I probably won't be around anymore. Someone will then likely be bitching and moaning about how badly I fucked'em up by dying.
For months, there have been no answers. Drunk, sober, from every height to every depth, there have been no answers. Not in the grimiest strip clubs of the Newark ghetto to the swankiest Hoboken bar, not from the hilly highlands of West Milford to the sand at the Shore. Nothing.
I blew the cigarette smoke out through my mouth in the shape of an "O" when I was on the streets... big holes in the center of the smoke..
I'm assuming this feeling is the reason that women by three thousand dollar purses and guys buy Maserati's.