For over six years now, I have lived in New York. First, the Bronx. Then Williamsburg, the Lower East Side. Now, the East Village.
Each bedroom has been sparse, the walls barely held together. Stained with finger prints and punctured by broken hooks that fell, again and again, exhausted from scarves and coats.
Every apartment, every place, every roommate--each a memory. And they have mostly existed here, in New York City.
I think of how some relationships were contained to certain rooms. I think of the foreign beds I have slept in, the rooms I have laid in, awake and vulnerable. The places I stayed until the morning broke and I could walk out and grab a cab, breathless, my address spilling out of me.
Last summer, I walked down 2nd street with a new friend. We passed my old building and realized, immediately, we had both called it home, four years apart.
"Those halls...that doorman..."
We looked in, and there it was. The same doorman, same old lobby. Years and years and still there, for us to peer in and see.
Bloomberg has been mayor since I've lived here. But he has been the mayor for a long time and the city has changed, even as I believed myself to be ageless.
In six years in NY, I have not changed my driver's license. I have held stubbornly onto my parents' address.
That was home. And this, this was something else...
What is it called when you work at a good job but still need money for medical bills and a security deposit and sushi? When you claim to be independent but are really, and truly, not? What are these years, really?
But I have grown. Out of apartments. Out of this one, and its tiny box of a room. Four walls and a bed and me.
And now my license is expiring, concrete evidence of this stretch of time.
I need a certain amount of "points" to prove my identity. And so, I've collected mail. Last week, I cleaned behind my bed. I found two empty Gatorade bottles, candy wrappers, a wine cork, and my passport.
I have everything I need for a New York license.
There is a place in my wallet for another wide picture of my face. A picture so hideously unattractive I'll wonder how I can keep it in my beautiful wallet. The DMV camera will stretch out my face, the lighting will enhance every flaw, every blemish.
So, I think: maybe I should just renew the New Jersey one. That picture is better. I was tan, I had left the last bloated picture in a cheap wallet on a flight home from Miami, and had rushed to the DMV in the middle of summer to get a new one. And on the second try, we hit gold: that picture has it. That 21 year old glow. Bubbly and careless and broke as shit--
No, I think.
This is home now. I live in New York. 300+ days a year. Wide, skinny, happy, sad--
I live here now.