Friday, December 01, 2006

The Real Reasons

I've decided to wuss out and get the apartment painted and spackled, after all.

As always, whenever I have to spend a red cent on our apartment on anything I can't take with me if we moved, I bring out all my unquestioned assumptions and cognitive dissonance for examination, the way we take all the junk off its customary resting places to either pack away or discard.

“Why bother repairing anything; it’s only a temporary place” is a good example. It’s like with the china for eight people that a relative got me in 1978, when I first moved into the apartment. The assumption then, as I wrote in my blog last March, was that I would “grow into” the eight-place-setting lifestyle the way a puppy grows into its paws and the fact that it was not yet my lifestyle meant that I was still a puppy. But I just grew into a different breed of animal: A toy dog with a toy apartment.

Cognitive dissonance is when you tell yourself something that objective reality would show is clearly not true.

Like, "why am I in the city?" To which my knee-jerk answer is usually, "Oh, the culture!" Yeah, when was the last time I went to a museum?

The real reason is the convenience to everything. Even if, on paper, a Queens neighborhood is “minutes to Manhattan!” it’s usually minutes from the time you get on the subway until it crosses the East River. And “minutes” in the sense that it’s under an hour. Sometimes the number of minutes is 59.

So don’t say "culture" unless you intend to start actually going to cultural things. Maybe what you mean is, “I’m the culture.”

Which leads to Big Hunk of Cognitive Dissonance #2: “I’m in the city because I didn’t fit into my neighborhood in Queens. Everybody was such a greaser!” This is no longer true of Queens. Now everyone is Chinese. So I still wouldn’t fit.

But I also question how well I fit into the Village, since the issue in the Village is that you fit by disappearing. When I cross Sheridan Square in the prime of the evening, it’s a sure bet that at least eighty percent of the people about to smack into me are from somewhere else.

And yet, early in the morning on the way to the subway, or mid-morning on a Saturday or Sunday bringing in the laundry or picking up some bagels, before tourists, trendsetters, hangers-out and hangers-on descend, the Village truly feels like a village, and it belongs to me and my neighbors. We'll gladly welcome you for a visit, and appreciate your boosting the economy of all the places on Bleecker that we ourselves can't afford, but it's our home. I may not have carved out the Bohemian dream I'd envisioned at 23, but every street has been colonized by the experiences of the life I've actually had.

So I'll call the painters and the hardware store and start packing away--or throwing away--all the books, papers, knick-knacks and mental trash. It'll make my surroundings more pleasant now, and I'll be in a better position to travel lightly if circumstances or opportunity prompt me to move on and set up a colony in some other place.

"...but every street has been colonized by the experiences of the life I've actually had."

After 40 years, I was forced out of New York and out of my Village home on Bedford Street this year for economic reasons. THAT's what missing here in my new home - those experiences of life at each corner. I have no memories here.
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