But now I’m back in New York where despair is not an option. As I hobble into Recovery PT, Danielle (whom I affectionately call Nurse Ratched for her evil, targeted exercises) throws her arms around me. She promises to get me up and running fast. Bad attitudes not allowed, she says (she copes well with mine). She reassures me by explaining my wandering pain (one set of muscles hurts as it tires out, the next one takes over, rinse, repeat). It’s a rocky process by nature, and setbacks are a part of it. Then we get to work.
Of course just being back in New York is work. It’s more apparent to me than ever that New York is a town for the young and the fit. If you can’t be one, you’re gonna have to be the other (I know which I am). My 4-story walkup isn’t any worse than just getting around, to be honest. But getting around has its rewards: there are people everywhere! There are people on foot, people in cafes – and people on bikes. In spite of being sidelined, I’m still a cyclist, and a bike perv at heart. While crutching around the neighborhood, I have a conversation with a Strida rider who’s stopped at a light.
After a brief conversation where we qvell about NY’s expanding network of bike lanes, I ask this guy about his ride (he is so busy showing it to me, he doesn’t even notice my crutch): 20 lbs. Well, that’s incentive right there; nearly 10lbs lighter than Lucille. Disk brakes – a serious plus:
Then he spies my crutch, and when I tell him how I got here, he says, “Oh well, you see that cut in the sidewalk?”
It’s nice to be absolved of personal responsibility for my fall – how could I have known this? But why didn't I meet this guy before I took my trip to LA? Where was I? Where was he? And how does he even know this? You’re not allowed to ride up the cut to the sidewalk in NYC… Well, it’s too late now. I thank him for the information and with a sigh, vow to pass it along to others.
I hope you’re listening.
Meanwhile, after nearly 4 months of virtual isolation in LA, it’s really great to be back in a place that is navigable, even on crutches. I make up for my months of solitary by going out every night: 3 documentaries, a play, two narrative films, and an evening at The Moth at Alice Tully Hall in the first 7 days. Lots of stairs. So be it. It’s still navigable by comparison to LA where every gathering starts out with: what route did you take and how long did it take you to get here?
It’s not the fault of Angelenos. The rolling conundrum of navigability, a Rubik's Cube whose solutions are ever-changing, forces everyone to focus on outsmarting a system that is outmoded, overwhelmed and the only game in town. Every route description is met with fascination; everyone is interested. In New York, such a conversation would be totally dull (“Took the #1. Then I walked"), so we just get on with the evening. If you want to be exotic, you can Uber. But that’s mostly for tourists.
At home, my cats practically sleep on my head the first night, then run around like dervishes the following morning. It’s nice to be welcomed. And even though everything isn’t delivered (One printer cartridge? Fuhgeddaboudit), and even though New York’s approaching Summer will probably be the expected Urine Sauna, I’m back in familiar territory. I’m back in New York.
It’s good to be home.