I was never good with New Year’s Resolutions. Every year I wanted things to change so drastically from the prior year that I couldn’t even imagine what resolutions would be required in order to make that dangerous and irrevocable leap. New Year’s Eve 1994 I was completely lost and frustrated with jobs, relationships, family. One girl had broken up with me long distance after three years of swearing love every day to each other, another job (HBO) was close to firing me because I hadn’t done anything there yet, and I owed some $70,000 for my education.
I was playing chess at the Chess Shop on Thompson St New Year’s Eve. A girl who I thought was very pretty came in and sat watching my game. She then drew my picture on a napkin. “Five dollars,” she said to me, “and I’ll sell you this picture.” I gave her the $5 simply because a pretty girl had never drawn a picture of me before. She signed it “Elena Van Gogh”. “I’m descended from Vincent Van Gogh,” she said, and then she left.
The guy I was playing chess with laughed. “That girl is crazy,” he said. Nine years later I ran into him on the street on the other side of town. “We played chess on New Year’s Eve, 1994.”
“How the hell do you remember that?” he said, “I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning.”
Later that night, New Year’s Eve, 1994, I was walking towards the Lower East Side. Elias, my roommate (and I mean ROOMmate. The place was about 8 feet by 8 feet) had a “friend” over. I couldn’t go home for awhile. I saw Elena was crossing the street. “Hey,” I said.
“HEY!” she was excited. “Lets hang out!” So I was game. I had nothing else to do. This was my New Year’s resolution. To do things different.
The first thing she wanted to do was get some crack.
I don’t smoke, drink, do anything. “Do you have $10?” she said. So we went to a donut shop on 14th and Second Avenue. I waited in the cab while she went in. The cabdriver turned around to take a closer look at me. “Just don’t fuck her,” he said. She ran out and slammed the car door.”GO ASSHOLE!” she yelled at the cab driver. We were driving towards the “Soho Motel” as far east on Grand Avenue that you can possibly go.
On the FDR drive, “that fucking guy just looked at me,” she said and crouched low into the back seat. She pointed to the car next to us. “Those guys are killers.”
We got to the Motel and I checked us in. I had a credit card despite my $70,000 in college debt. That’s why America is great. We get up to the room. I don’t know what I wanted to happen. I wasn’t crazy. But then again, maybe I was. “Fuck!” she said, when she opened up the paper bag and pulled out this white nugget and a pipe. “I can’t do this without heroin also.” She turned on the TV.
“You have to get out for a second!” she screamed at me. “My brother is on the TV screen and he’s crazy! Get out! Walk up and down the hallway. Just GET OUT! COME BACK IN TEN MINUTES!”
I walked outside the room and up and down the hallway, like I was told. Sometimes its important to just follow orders. Other couples were walking around, mumbling to themselves. Everyone was whispering their New Year’s resolutions to each other at the Soho Motel.
Finally, I saw a staircase. Went downstairs and walked out of the building. I took a cab back to where I lived. Elias was there by himself. When I told him what had happened he sniffed my breath. Like maybe he thought I had crack breath or something. Now he’s a fisherman in Rhode Island.
God, thank god I survived being younger. My first New Year’s Resolution for 2011. No drama at all. I don’t want to get married again (I already did that in 2010). I don’t want to move again (did that in 2010). I don’t want to make tons of private investments (I have enough, thank you). So many times I walked the gray tightrope between the light and the darkness. I don’t need light or dark in 2011.
New Year’s Day, 1995, sixteen years ago. It was coldest day in the history of mankind. In Port Authority at 7am old men were lying on the floor like it was the day after the Apocalypse and I had been the only one to survive. I took the bus to New Jersey and my dad picked me up at the stop. He shook my hand like we were in business together and had just concluded a very successful deal. I had dinner with my parents. “This is going to be a great year for you,” my mom said to me. And she was right.
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