Sunday, March 2, 2014

Iggy's New York (and my dream about a Middle-Eastern taxi driver)

The idea for this blog post came to me in a dream I had this morning:  I am in a taxi with a good-looking Middle-Eastern man who won't tell me which country he's from. He's been my driver for the past few days, and I sit in the front seat with him. I realize I'm wearing two different earrings today. One is a silver treble clef and the other is a triangular-shaped earring with an original drawing of Alice in Wonderland pasted onto it. They're both real earrings I have, but I never wear them mismatched. I tell him that the Alice earring is handmade and that I bought it years ago in Greenwich Village at an outdoor flea market back when New York City was cool. I tell him that the New York City he lives in is not the same one that existed when I used to shop at the outdoor flea markets. I say that my best friend, Ania, and I used to take the subway to the Village every Saturday and that New York City was gritty and dangerous back then. There were needles in the streets. That there were many places Ania and I would not go to even during the day.  I say that there are pockets of New York City that are dangerous these days, but back then, the pockets were everywhere. But I say that even with the danger, I still prefer the New York City of years ago. Everything was alive in those days. There was passion on the streets:  people break-dancing, playing music through their boom boxes, and no one was afraid to shout and speak their own minds.  I say that is the character that came out from the boroughs. I tell him that nowadays, New Yorkers are from Texas, Alabama, Europe, and the Middle East. I don't want to insult him, but I also want to be honest. He just listens and watches me without saying a word.

When I wake up, I realize I miss that New York. It's the same Greenwich Village I've written about in my upcoming "Iggy Gorgess" novel.  Iggy's New York takes place in the late 1980's. He hangs out with the homeless in Washington Square Park. He works at a punk clothing store where postcards of Bauhaus and all the great 1980's punk bands are displayed. He eats hot dogs on the street and doesn't care how dirty the carts are that he gets them from. That's how Manhattan was back then. People just let loose and didn't care. There was more crime back then, sure. But most of the time, people bonded together in the struggle. You didn't get reprimanded by a bystander if your voice was too loud while walking down the street. You didn't complain when you had to walk 20 blocks before you could find a public restroom. And if you were lucky enough to find one, you didn't care that it was so filthy you couldn't graze your hand against the walls or the seat.  You were just happy enough you finally found one and didn't have to hold it in on the graffiti-filled subway on the way home. You didn't expect New York to comply with your demands and to bend for you. It was New York, and you adapted to the City's ways.

Maybe that's what my dream is trying to tell me: To go with the flow of my life and grab what I can from it rather than waiting around for life to fall into place according to my particular demands and expectations.  Or maybe it's telling me that my "Iggy" novel would best be marketed to Middle Eastern taxi drivers.

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