I apologise for not doing a blog post for the previous few weeks. I have been busy.
I love the fashion in NYC and have brought some of it home, but I actually place less value on the way others think I look. Being in a city of millions makes you realise that no one is actually getting caught up in how you dress and how you look. It’s liberating and also gives me confidence to wear what I want. Creative expression through fashion is fun but I really don’t need to be caught up about what others think of it.
Not being 21 in America is terrible. Not because I can’t drink but because not being allowed entry into pubs and bars prevents a lot of opportunities to meet new people. There were times when I got pretty down that I wasn’t allowed into these places. I was trying to go outside of my comfort zone and meet new people but this law was restricting me from doing so, especially because they seem very strict on checking ID.
I tried to get into a bar with my Aussie mates Rory and Dan but the guy at the door asked for my ID. I gave it to him hoping he wouldn’t really look and just grant me entry. He took it and stared at it for a while. He asked me how old I was. I said 20. He looked at me as if to say “Really? Really?? You actually just tried to do that? Ya dumb shit.” I wasn’t allowed in.
-Skippy Niggers. Rory and Dan-
One morning at around 3:00 I was walking home and tried my luck at the pub on my block. A place called ‘Sophies’ that had been around for many decades. I walked in, sat down at the bar and confidently ordered a beer. No ID. No questions asked. Beer served and paid for. I found it! I stayed ‘til maybe 6:30 that morning talking to the guys there about American politics and their memories of September 11 and what the anniversary meant to them. I came home feeling really good.
So for the last few weeks of the trip I went to Sophie’s most nights. Or should I say mornings. My great buddies Dave and Max went there most nights and we usually met up around 1am and stayed there ‘til the early morning. Never once did they ask me for ID.
Now for those of you asking about the girl that I met on the subway.. Sorry to tell y’all, she didn’t reply. I thought I saw her walk into a store so I followed her in but it turned out not to be her. It would have been a very great movie moment if it was her though right? Out of the millions of people in NYC I find her. Serendipity? The fairytale never happened. But it made for fun blogging right?
I did however accidentally slip on a vacuum cleaner and get a bruise on my neck where it sucked the skin. Well Mum, at least that’s what I told you happened when you saw the bruise on my neck. This ‘vacuum cleaner’ also enjoyed sucking up cocaine far too much. I decided not to see the ‘vacuum cleaner’ again.
Homelessness in NYC is very confronting. There are a lot of people who sleep on the street and who ask for spare change. For the most part, if I had coins in my pocket I’d drop it in their cup. But it was still upsetting to see. Some were really rude if you didn’t give them money but most were very polite.
People said that they don’t give money to the homeless because “what if they spend it on drugs?”. To that I say, not giving someone who you suspect of being an addict a dollar won’t stop them from being an addict. But giving someone who is probably very hungry some money will help them with food. I chose to see the best in these people and usually gave them a dollar. But I felt as though a dollar wouldn’t go very far in getting them out of their situation.
On my block there was a guy who sat on a doorstep most days doing crossword puzzles in the newspaper and keeping to himself. For a week or so I didn’t speak to him at all. One night after buying myself a gigantic New York slice of pizza I had a handful of change as I walked past him- I decided to give it to him. I was met with the most beautiful thick and husky NYC accent “Thanks man!”. The New York accent is somewhat rare to hear- but when you hear a born and raised New Yorker speak it’s amazing.
The next day I walked past him again and he said “Hey man, was that you last night?”. I said yes and we started talking. His name was Edwin. We spoke and he told me about his life. He had been on this block since the 70’s and on the streets for 14 years. He told me he preferred to keep to himself rather than stick with the other homeless people in NY. The reason he was on the street is because of his health, he has been in 9 comas over the years and his health prevents him from working but he is still unable to get government health support. I asked why he chose not to stay in shelters and he said that you’ll get robbed if you do. “You got nothin’ but they’ll rob you anyway.” He was missing his front teeth from where someone had kicked them in while he was sleeping. He said on the street he’d been set on fire before. I told him that I appreciated the way he wasn’t rude at all and kept to himself. He said he doesn’t like to ask for much. He was a real cool dude.
I ended that first conversation by saying if there is ever anything he needed then he should just let me know. To which he responded in the most beautiful way- “Yeah me too man, I don’t got much, but if you need help or anything just let me know, I’m happy to help.” I realised that this was a good dude. He was smart, well spoken and kind hearted.
Whenever I saw him I’d stop and chat for a while. I’d ask him how he slept the previous night and if the cops had given him a hard time. I’d ask if he’d had anything to eat and if not I’d buy him a few slices of pizza. Whenever I found him going through the bins for food I’d give him a couple of dollars to get himself something to eat. But more than anything, I felt that talking… or rather listening… was the greatest thing I could do for him. I was really humbled by Edwin. He told me that he wanted nothing more than to just get a job and have his own place. He genuinely wanted to work and I couldn’t help feel that the government health system had let him down.
-My buddy Edwin-
The day before I left I took him to Black Iron Burger for a meal, the burger shop that Max and Dave worked at and the shop responsible for me gaining 4 kilograms on this trip. He told me that he didn’t want to eat inside because he was embarrassed about the way he looked. I said he didn’t have anything to worry about but understood if he’d rather eat outside. I ordered the Iron Horse, a double beef patty burger. So good.
When the order was ready I grabbed the burgers and came outside with him, he was confused. He thought that I was going to be eating inside and that he’d go outside to eat. I told him that the point was to eat the meal together so I was happy to come out and eat with him. It might not seem like much, but he displayed enough bravery to change his mind and come eat inside the restaurant with me.
There we chatted about how he felt being on the street and he told me about the times when he’d gone up onto the roof in winter time and hoped he’d slip off because things were just too hard. As hard as it was to hear all this stuff I felt as though it was really healthy for him to be able to share it with someone. He gave me the address of his friend and I gave him mine and we agreed to write one another. His story really moved me and made me grateful for what I have. Edwin was a bloody good bloke.
Now Mum, here is a story that will get you a bit worried. One night after the pub I was really drunk. Proud? Yeah. It was about 6:00 in the morning and I decided to buy a packet of my favourite guacamole chips and go up to the roof of my apartment complex. I hadn’t been up there yet and obviously this was the perfect opportunity to head up right?
So against all inebriated odds I made it up the 7 flights of stairs onto the roof, found a place to lie down, pumped some Kings Of Leon on the iPhone and had a little snooze.
After my rest I decided to head down to bed. So I went to the door and twisted the handle to head down stairs. Locked. Really? I thought it might have just been jammed so I gave it a good twist. Definitely locked. Tried to shove it open. Locked. I got the keys for my apartment out and they didn’t open the door either. At this point I started to panic a little. In my state of mind I imagined I’d be stuck on the roof for days with out food or water and die!! Bit dramatic.
So I made the decision to get down stairs by any means necessary. With my big trusty boots I started kicking the door. I was booting the absolute crap out of it for about a minute. Surely it’d break soon. With all my drunken strength I was almost putting my leg straight through the door. After several hard and heavy kicks to my surprise the door opened at last! But not from the mighty kicks. It opened from the other side. As it opened I noticed to pyjama clad gents standing there. They didn’t seem happy at all. Well neither did I right? I quickly realised the reason why they seemed less than impresses. Turns out the door that I thought was to the staircase was actually the door to their apartment! They were furious and used some foul language. Rude much? I am so lucky they didn’t have a baseball bat or even a bloody gun. To calm them I offered them some of my chips. They didn’t seem to impressed by that either. So I asked where the stairs where and left them to go back to sleep. Closest to death I’ve ever come :)
This trip has been a really healthy experience for me. I’ve been humbled and inspired. It was very calming as well. I need to work hard for the things I want and not get too stressed about things that truly don’t matter. I am one of many creative people and despite being a minority in the suburbs of Sydney there is a whole community who value creative expression.
I love acting. I love theatre. I love film. I want to work so hard to be able to do that for a living. I can do it.
I love New York City.
I love you Mum.
I love my family.
From a bloody happy son.