November 7, 2011

charter chump


I had seen the backseats of more taxis in one day than I had in a whole month. I watched the Capital creep up over the horizon of a city I made less acquaintance with than a party guest in a bathroom line. We were on a mission and we were bad at it.

We spent the entire reception discussing how we would do it differently. As if marriage was even a realistic prospect for either of us. But when you are here, seated at Table 7, alongside a handful of bridesmaids and their reluctant boyfriends, you can't help but never want to subject anybody to this. I'm mostly reeling from an unwitting crop up of PSD from my teenage days as a cater waiter. All the ill-fitting and gender-crippling polyester tuxedo uniforms, to me it's an indicator of not only indentured servitude but some sort of void of the American Dream. Lose a turn, take two steps back, become a cater waiter.

One of them kept pouring red wine into everyone's champagne flute, cringing when he realized his faux pas, only to be doomed to repeat it with every refill. These are the things worse people would criticize, but I don't think he even spoke enough english to understand if he was being criticized.

I watched my friend, who I have known for just about 11 years now, dine with his wife at the table reserved for the bride and groom. They chewed as if in secret, bearing the social ceremony with the kind of grace that the 21st century affords.
I wasn't there when they fell in love. I was barely there when things got "serious." I remember him telling me several months ago that "if things go well, I think we're going to get a place together in the Fall." Soon after that, I remember him telling me, "if this goes well, I think I'm going to propose to her on New Years Eve." It went well. I wish I had bore witness to a friend falling in the kind of love that sticks and stays. I wanted to see the transformation and the transcendence. So I could remember it for the next time I might ever see it again, like some sort of Halley's Comet.
I eyed the scene with a skepticism only of someone who has never looked at the end of the line and seen the same person there as at the start of it. We met eyes and he raised his glass. I raised my dinner roll.

Two hours later of the kind of modern dance music that only wedding DJs and my corner bodega plays, two servings of cake for me, and a few whiskey neats for my date, the reception hall closed their doors and everyone was shuttled off to an after party of sorts at the 3-and-a-half star hotel they were booked at. A lounge with oversized plush armchairs surrounding smokey glass-topped coffee tables, and piano jazz standards on the speakers. Business class. Cops played silently on the inset wall monitors. I sat deep in a chair, my feet dangling off the end, clutching my phone that tethered me to the time and place I came from. This was the first day I was going to use the entire battery in less than 24 hours.

Fleeing on a midnight bus on a trip to span at least four states and graze maybe two others, was not what I had in mind that same night. It was enough of a twilight zone, that inaudible voice that carries in the concrete and every hostile breeze, pleaded with me to either leave this city or return to my own. I'm not sure which sentiment was greater.
Instead of sleeping (as to avoid any vulnerabilities to the no doubt dodgy folk on a midnight bus), I stared blankly out the window. Past highway terrain that always looks like untamed brush that could be reserved for something, but probably just more highway. Past the strip malls. Past the parking lots, and gas stations and small glowing diner signs.
Something says "Welcome to New Jersey" but I never meant to be in New Jersey. You can't really get anywhere you want without going through places you never meant to go to.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was the first day I was going to use the entire battery in less than 24 hours.