I got myself a haircut at this little barber shop in Inwood yesterday, right on the corner of Dykman and Nagle. They even shaved my beard with a straight blade, Sweeny-Todd Style. The barber spoke barely any English, but we were able to communicate enough to get my hair and beard looking spectacular.
Everything is an event in New York; everything is another story. The word mundane wouldn’t show up anywhere in a 500,000 word history of New York City. In Massachusetts, a visit to the salon means a wasted hour at SuperCuts in the shopping plaza; in New York, a haircut means a middle-aged Puerto Rican with a straight-blade holster who takes periodic breaks to hip-hop dance with the other barbers. [That is 100 percent true.]
Visitors to New York and specifically Manhattan often have the same exasperated reaction: It was nice to visit, but I could never live there. They find New York City Way to crowded or Way to expensive or Way to vomit-and-garbage smelling. They report this back to their cozy suburbanites and go on extolling the many virtues of small-town living, presumably ignoring the rampant boredom and/or methamphetamine addiction. Before moving here several months back, I was guilty of similar shortsightedness. And believe me, there are times when I can not take the congestion, the 12-dollar beers, or the constant, omni-present smell of urine. I walk around Manhattan literally salivating at the idea of living anywhere else, and then I see people having sex in the park at ten in the morning and I feel a little better. [Also 100 percent true. It’s been a weird few weeks since my last post.]
A lot of times I hate living here, but I never, ever regret moving here. I think everyone should be required to live in New York City once, for two years, preferably at a time when they are young, idealistic and broke. For sure, they will all leave old, hopeless and broke but they will be wise. They will go back home unafraid and unimpressed. They will dread getting their haircut.
They can come here to follow their dreams and they will be ridiculed and they will probably fail. But its better they follow their dreams here then back home because it’s so much harder in New York. When they fail here they have failed among the best, and that’s better then the failures who never left town. Be proud of failing here. You’ve made it. Even if you’re booed off stage every night, you’re booed off a New York City stage. Back home they think just being here is success. Back home, you’re famous.
I was doing much better at this in Boston, but then again I was in Boston. I was dreaming of being here. And now I’m here in New York and I’m treading water, tiring out. Eventually I’ll sink and that’ll be OK. A tiny fish in a giant, giant ocean.