“I followed a stranger into a building under construction. In Harlem,” I confess to my brother over the phone. “Was he at least wearing a hard hat and a company construction jacket?” he asks, not really surprised or concerned, probably because I’m alive and this isn’t the most dramatic thing I’ve ever done. All for matrimonial purposes, alone I traveled to a temple in Jammu and Kashmir, met strange men in strange cities, tolerated lewd actions and moved to Manhattan. “Yes, to both,” I reply. “Well, okay. But this isn’t something I’d tell Mom and Dad.” Agreed.
Later that afternoon I receive a call from Meera and Rohit asking if I checked out the building. Because I have these annoying Midwestern values that include integrity and honesty, I earnestly retell my escapade and receive a severe reprimand.“You did WHAT?” Meera yells into the phone. “Honey, you will NEVER believe this!” I listen to Meera recount my misadventure. I can tell by their fading voices and the hollow wind sound that they’re in the car, spending Sunday in Jersey looking for light fixtures. “Is she CRAZY?” Rohit yells. He is driving because direction sense is not her forte. “Tell her she’s an idiot!” “I can hear him,” I tell Meera dryly. “Good. Don’t ever go into an abandoned building again!”
That evening like a recovering crack addict I am jonesing for a Starbucks. I have actually hit that age where caffeine after 3 pm keeps up until 3 am, but I’m in the mood for espresso and steamed milk. I pull on a light jacket and leave my apartment. Once outside I smell coffee in the air wafting from the café. This is another reason I love New York, coffee made to specification located 30 seconds away, 60 if I don’t make the light.
From the sidewalk, I step into the street. The traffic lights in Manhattan are timed, the City couldn’t make driving and walking any easier on this island. Yet the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t bother with the crosswalks or traffic laws, and are the most indignant jaywalkers. And for what reason, I have adopted this behavior and step into northbound Fort Washington Avenue, and wait for the M4 bus to avoid me. I move into the middle of the street allowing southbound cars to pass. A gypsy cab slows down, stops and allows me to cross. I flash a huge smile, wave and jog in front of him. Sometimes New York surprises me. People stomp on your foot without apologizing, shove you on the sidewalk, or honk at you if you look at them wrong, yet this driver lets me cut across illegally on his right of way.
It could be argued that I am a certifiable idiot who engages in reckless behavior with her own person. Out of the fire (abandoned buildings) and into the frying pan (wandering in traffic), sometimes I wonder if I will learn. I definitely think it’s a good thing I’m not someone’s mother. Other times I think maybe I don’t have bad luck, so much as I have selective luck. I may have the world’s worst matrimonial stars, but I have the world’s strongest dangerous-situation-avoiding stars.