The most notable differences are the weather and the general attitude. It was 84°F yesterday, on January 4. We went rollerblading on the beach the day before Halloween. After coming back from visiting family in New Jersey over the holidays, where it was in the 20s, we went hiking on January 1 in Topanga State Park in t-shirts. I grew up in Seattle, where it was drizzle and gray every day for the first 16 years of my life, and then spent more than a decade on the east coast where it was snowing and windy and freezing for half of the year and humid as all hell for the other half, so Los Angeles has been a godsend.
Attitude-wise, this place is the polar opposite of New York. People are almost too nice. They say hello to you on the street, they know how to stand in lines without cutting you off, no one is trying to screw you out of something at any moment, it’s pretty clean and everyone seems fairly genuine. It was hard to get used to at first.
I was across the street working in World Financial Center 2 the morning of September 11, 2001. I heard the second plane hit, heard the explosion, and for a moment thought I was going to die. But I didn’t.
I walked out of the building alongside hundreds of others and looked across the street at two burning skyscrapers, amazed and horrified, confused and nervous. We watched as people leapt to their deaths to avoid burning and heard the sound of human bodies hitting concrete after falling 70 stories. We stood, unable to help, unsure what to do next. And then we fled the city. I was on a train in NJ when someone announced the first tower had fallen.
For the next month, I couldn’t sleep without nightmares. I became a news radio junkie. I developed troubling, severe anxiety. I wondered if I would ever feel comfortable on a plane or in a tall building again. I read countless stories about the day and couldn’t stop looking at photos that made me sob. I spent several months unemployed, sitting at home in front of my computer all day, truly depressed for the first time in my life. Everything felt broken and wrong and terrifying. I wasn’t sure how to get back to my normal life.
Little things helped. Spending time with friends, finding a crummy job that gave me somewhere to go every day, something to do with myself. Family. Eventually, I began to heal. I moved to Brooklyn. I passed the WTC site every time I went to see a movie at my favorite theater. I rode the subway without constant fear of terrorism. I flew more and more to various cities in the US, first with the help of large doses of Xanax and then more and more without it. I began to feel comfortable in the world again. I fell even more in love with the city I had always dreamed of living in.
I spent the majority of this past decade living in New York City. The same city I fled that morning, the same city I came back to a few months later, worried but defiant. The city I truly grew up in, for better or worse. I’ve moved away now, but New York City will always be my home.
Shawn and I went to the Moonstruck Diner after waiting in line for iPhone 4 and immediately began the syncing process. THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL BEHAVIOR, FOLKS.
Last night I had a vivid dream about an apartment. It was in a large city, but I’m not sure which one. It’s this city I’m frequently visiting in my dreams. I have a lot of dream stuff like that—I have a city, this mall I’m always at, random houses and parks. They’re usually the same, but they only exist in my dreams.
So I was walking down the street and I happened across a courtyard with an open house sign. I walked inside and the apartment was awesome and bizarre. It was two levels, such that half of the apartment had double-high ceilings and the other half was the second floor overhang. The living room was huge and had two (?) fireplaces. The kitchen was all marble and steel and modern and nice. The bedrooms were spacious and had large windows with plenty of sunlight.
I walked up to the second level, and that’s when things took a weird turn. Upstairs, there were trees growing all over. They were busting up through the floor and then continuing up and smashing through the ceiling. There were leaves everywhere, and moss, and dirt. The floor was a huge mess, there was mold on the walls, and water was dripping through the holes in the ceiling. In the larger of the two upstairs rooms, there was practically a forrest growing in the back corner. A fine cool mist in the air.
After staring at these trees for at least 10 minutes, I finally walked back down to the main floor. I tried talking to the real estate agent, but she was walking in circles in the kitchen, mumbling. I was asking appropriate questions (“Why are there trees upstairs?” and “Seriously, how did that happen and how much do you think it would be to repair that floor?”), but she wasn’t interested in anything other than circles.
I decided, of course, that I could not purchase this apartment. It would be far too much work to remove the trees and redo the top floor, especially since I didn’t know if the trees were load bearing at this point. I was just about to walk out the front door when the real estate agent shouted at me. “Only $150,000!” she yelled as she tried to steady herself against the refrigerator, dizzy from the circles.
So I bought the place. Because, seriously, after living in NYC for the past 7 years, you know a deal when you see one. Worst-case, I can just rent out the forest rooms or something.