[In this week’s issue of New York, we spoke to 30 prominent New Yorkers about their first times in the city. We also interviewed and photographed 160 new arrivals of all different kinds. Now, we’d like to hear your stories. Please put them in the comments. Here’s Intel editor Chris’s.]
I first experimented with living in New York the summer before my senior year of college. I was an intern at Out magazine a couple of days a week, and to pay the bills I put on a tight green uniform and lifeguarded at the underground pool of the University Club on Fifth Avenue. I used to go out at night, as frequently as I could afford. It meant I spent a lot of time waiting, late at night, on the Bleecker stop of the F train (which, in the summer, is always a steady 138 degrees Fahrenheit) waiting for the subway to take me back to my sublet in Cobble Hill. I would sit on one of the wooden benches on the platform and write in my journal — which I was very good at keeping in those days, with all of that useless time on my hands. I would hash out ideas for this play I was writing, called Waiting for the F Train. It was about a boy who wrote in his journal while sitting on the F platform to go back to Cobble Hill. He always wanted to go to Coney Island, you see, because it was the end of the line, but he always ended up getting off the train before he got there. It wasn’t very good, not only because it wasn’t very original, but because I was usually vaguely drunk when I worked on it.
One day, while I was waiting for nearly 45 minutes, a man sat on the other side of the bench from me. He was dressed up in a clown outfit, and was singing very loudly. His costume seemed homemade, and it didn’t really seem like he knew what a clown was supposed to look like. He had drawn a giant frown in black Sharpie over his mouth, and he had stuck the head of a reindeer stuffed animal to his chest using packing tape. We sat next to one another, with him singing Elvis songs, for a good twenty minutes. I remember looking at him and thinking that I should react in some way, because he was pretty terrifying to look at. But I didn’t, because I was vaguely drunk, and instead I wrote it all down in my notebook to include in the play because I thought it was a magical moment, like watching a bizarre movie scene that you happened to be a part of. I would later learn that to live in New York is to be subject to those moments constantly.
Okay, now you guys go.