Before/After

It wasn’t much to look at, but it was there at night time and when I woke up and I guess it needed to go.

I had talked to my therapist about it in the sort of guilty way that one admits an illicit attraction or nighttime bedwetting; with shame and a sense of self-protection.

When we broke up, Eva had agreed to come and pick it up in “like two weeks”, a modifier which let her off the hook for the month it had been.

She mentioned having a sweater of mine back then, but I didn’t really care, I wasn’t coming to get it, or cold but for a lack of sweaters.

But I guess it was just that it was a memento. Something that reminded me of particularly her, her tastes, her being.

A Mrs. Potato Head she brought to my place and left there to keep me company, not originally, but that’s what it became for nights that I missed her.

“I guess I’ll just have to stare at her and think of you.” I would tell her, less grammatically, in text messages, those increasing nights I did not see her.

After the break-up, I almost thought it would disappear, that it would fade along with the other things that were supposed to be getting better.

But, of course, it was tangible, it was there and something had to be done with it.

After a few nights of procrastinating, of doing other things, “not finding time”, I wrapped in her father’s t-shirt I had been given for modesty and brought home with me to put in my “nice t-shirt” drawer, away from my faded youthful ones and brought the bundle down on the train to Battery Park City.

As I walked through the World Financial Center, where I used to go visit my father too many years ago, I gamed out as I often did what could happen.

I would see her, maybe walking her dog. And she would see me, her beautiful eyes enlarged by her big black glasses and… and then what would happen?

She would ask for me back? Would she think I was stalking her? Would she run to my arms crying? What would be in her eyes?

I didn’t dwell. I walked through but remembered as I passed through looking at the stores. The coffee shop where we’d get coffee when I’d visit her.

The gelato place where I introduced her to her first Valhrona Chocolate gelato and her happy nods at its goodness.

And her smile.

I didn’t want to see her, it wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was just to drop off the stuff at her apartment building with her doorman. I’d give her apartment number to him and the bag and leave.

Maybe I’d reassure him it wasn’t a terrorist thing or anything scary.

I succeeded. I got there. I trudged through the snow.

I jumped every time I saw someone walking their dog, half hoping/wanting.

I stared through the window at the cigarette shop near her at a girl with blond hair tied back, her back to me, who wasn’t her. But I wanted right then for it to be, before I turned my back away.

This trip was about freeing myself, about eliminating the illusions. If I no longer had her things at my apartment, I wouldn’t be reminded as much. And she wouldn’t have to come to the house, to fear that, to deal with the awkwardness, of wanting her things but not me, of experiencing her own remembrance trip.

I dropped it off with the doorman, gave him the back.

“Are they expecting it?” He asked me.

“No, it’s just a t-shirt and a toy.” I replied.

And then.

“Do you know the people I’m trying to drop this off for??”

“I think I might be familiar.” He said, in a way that meant that our business was done and I took off and crossed the highway for the train.

That windowsill’s empty now.

I can see a little more of the air conditioning unit outside.

And that’s about it.

***

I got a haircut for New Year’s and when I went to take the picture, I saw this back in my Photo Booth.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a picture of her up here, but there she is, we are, branding our beverages.

She looks so happy in that picture. I was trying to figure out what I was doing, but I think what it was looking at her face in the screen as the picture was shot.

I’m sorry both to you all for getting all sappy and to her if she didn’t want that picture shown.

I realized after I took my new picture that it was from the same angle with a lot of the same lighting too.

Haircut for the Holidays, eh?

I fretted about it for a while, not knowing how it’d hurt me, some friends noticing a decrease in hair quality with my long hair.

I always wonder when I cut it off if it’ll ever grow back.

But so far it has, every time I’ve cut it, and I admit to a rare liking for this haircut, obtained from the old-school Italian barber down the street.

“I have the same anxieties about my beard.” Rob Malone told me. And there it is. If Rob could have beard-fears and overcome them, I should feel the same about a haircut.

I worried about auditions and my image and sticking out in a crowd, but I figured that if Stephen Colbert congratulated me the last time I got a haircut, it was probably worth periodically checking in to.

As New Year’s has drawn closer, I’ve been asked about my plans. I used to be the coordinator of these sorts of things for my friends, the man in the know about parties, or at least the man who knew someone in the know.

But last New Year’s, I spent cuddled up with Eva, watching TV and lying in bed, sleepy. We fell asleep holding each other and never felt the worse for missing something outside, with what we had there.

Or at least that’s my version and I’m sticking to it.

This year, for the first time ever, I’m working, a fact which caused me to contemplate whether I should call out sick or just tell my job to go fuck itself (as they’ve scheduled me for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day/Eve AND New Year’s Day/Eve all thanklessly/depsite my requests), but decided on my father’s advice, to just grin-and-bear it, since I’d be off by 11 and “New Year’s is overrated”.

It’s a lonely holiday, I guess, at least for those unprepared for it.

The time you think about the year and wonder what you’ve accomplished.

A night you want someone else to hold and know, for at least that moment, that you have something; a rock in the river of time.

A time, I know, I’ll probably be out doing what I’ve done in past non-cuddly years, trying to smile and talk to girls in a crowd of mind-altered lonely people, probably on a roof somewhere in Brooklyn.

It’s sad to be going back there.

But, with a haircut, it feels like a start.

***

I’ve been getting more morning shifts at work, which is good, since they involve less work, less customers and, usually, more hours, but they’ve also necessitated something I thought eliminated from my lifestyle: breakfast.

My rails against breakfast are known to my friends and they usually go something like this:

Imagine you went to a restaurant and all they had was pizza. You weren’t in the mood for that, so you left and you went somewhere else. But that place and the next place, everywhere you went only had pizza. Maybe some of them had pizza-related items also, like garlic knots or stromboli, but nowhere could you find sushi or Indian food or Thai or anything else varied, only pizza.

It would seem like some arbitrary or cruel mass decision, no?

This is what breakfast is in America. A time when we arbitrarily limit our palettes to eggs and “breakfast” related foods, as opposed to the other times of the day, when we can eat anything.

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you, one worthy of some Rob Malone/Dan Pleck investigation, though I know both of them are still too wrapped up in “who killed Kennedy”.

Anyway, the whole thing has led me to some egg hatred and a general skipping of that time of day, usually through sleep or toughing it out, eating a snack if necessary.

But the tide might have been turned on me, by this one egg sandwich.

Bite, on Bleecker and Lafayette, was previously one of my work-around places: the sort of place you could order a regular non-Breakfast-y panini at 9am.

But when I heard their customers raving about their egg sandwiches at that hour, I decided to try.

Bite, an Israeli-style hybrid joint, makes their egg omelette-style, throws some sharp Swiss (no substitutions!) in there and puts it with some REAL plum tomato on a toasted brioche with (yes!) some hot sauce (!!!) to give it some actual flavor. It’s a 5-bite affair, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get me to my 3pm lunch break at work in one non-hypo-glycemic piece.

The last day I had it, I felt a glow about me all day long, the sort of thing I used to get from love, or a really good Indian lunch buffet.

When I recognized comic-improv actor Zach Woods at a late show at the theater, I brought him too mini-bags of popcorn, in a classy showing of that good-food feeling.

Later, I’m pretty sure he ignored my Facebok friend request.

But at least the sandwich was good.

***

BITE

Egg Sandwich w/Swiss Cheese, Plum Tomato and Homemade Special Hot Sauce on a Toasted Brioche- $3.50

SE Corner of Bleecker and Lafayette Sts.

BDFM6 to Bleecker/Broadway-Lafayette Sts. NR to Prince St.

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One Response to Before/After

  1. clomemalone says:

    You really gotta accept that breakfast offer a huge variety and is often the most rewarding meal of the day.

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