Sunday 19 July 2015

Midnight in Manhattan

I don't wanna brag, but... I'm pretty damn good at feeling sorry for myself.

I mean hey, with the amount of practise I've had over the years, I'm pretty sure I could be classed as an expert. 

What I'm not very good at, however, is getting myself out of it. 

It's been really tough here this past week. With all the others moving off the boat and leaving me on my lonesome, I've found it increasingly difficult to keep my head above water with the stress and exhaustion of all the work, combined with the frustration of no-one to rant about it to who could empathise. 

It's inevitably resulted in me feeling pretty darned miserable and questioning whether I'm doing the right thing here, only adding to the pain of knowing I'm wasting my time in New York City by being a perpetually bothered bitch. (Officially designating myself the new nickname PBB btw) 

But whenever I get into one of these funks, the only thing that keeps my little flame aglow is the knowledge that at some point my misery will turn into irritation, which will eventually galvanise into fury, and with one big expletive-laden rant I'll be able to exorcise all my woes and return to my fiery, passionate, driven self. 

Aside from that, the only way to minimise the infliction of feeling alone, is to get off your butt and start doing something, anything, whether you have company or not. 

And so in the pit of my despair, upon discovering that my favourite little movie theatre on 2nd Ave was hosting a midnight showing of Woody Allen's 1979 black and white film 'Manhattan', actually in Manhattan, I knew I had to go. Perhaps I'd learn a little something about how to cope in this mad town.

And as if the universe was rewarding me for at least *trying* to cheer up, my old boat-roommate Chloe texts me. She's free tonight. I ask her if she wants to join me at the movie theatre. She does. And so together we go.

I had barely so much as heard of the movie before, let alone seen it, so I honestly had no idea what to expect. It was kinda refreshing that way, my mind had become blank, so anything to fill it would be a welcome presence. 

From the poster I imagined it would be a dark, film noir critique of the frustrations and woes of New Yorkers in the 70's. I couldn't work out if that was exactly what I needed right now or the complete opposite. 

We bought some butter popcorn and found a spot in the crowded screen. A delightful thing I noticed was a lot of people seemed to be alone too. 

Within minutes, I was genuinely throwing my head back in raucous laughter. Completely unexpectedly it was a satirical comedy, highlighting the insatiableness of the human condition in New York, and how being in the city seem to drive its residents to seemingly invent new frustrations daily, almost deliberately screwing up their own lives in the process. As Woody Allen both wrote and starred in the movie, it was also hilariously a simultaneous narcissistic ego massage and self-deprecation, watching the female characters swoon for then abandon him one by one, whilst also being unavoidably meta by being a pretty pretentious film mocking pseudo-intellectuals and the pretentious alike. 

I absolutely adored it. And I left positively soaring.

The inspiration which had departed and left in its wake an endless cycle of the same dozen frustrated thoughts had come roaring back, and suddenly I felt completely overwhelmed with the desire to write. And not just write, I wanted to write fiction.  Something which I haven't done in months.

By the time we got back to Chloe's apartment I already had the plot and characters, and set about planning dialogue before passing out asleep.

In the morning we woke with a mighty thunderstorm tearing down the sky above the apartment, and it felt like the winds of change. Like the humid, static air that had weighed so heavy over the past week, pregnant with the weight of all the evaporated moisture it had accumulated, my mood had been ceaselessly wound up and up until breaking point.

And now the heavens suddenly cracked under the pressure and yielded their share my mind felt finally released, letting that liquid inspiration pour through its floodgates. 

We dashed across the street for Saturday morning coffee and bagels at this amazing place called The Bean, and I discovered it wasn't just me who'd become newly invigorated. 

We sat there for 3 hours animatedly discussing and brainstorming a new art project, excitable ideas pouring from our minds and into notebooks before us. 

"God, it's actually insane how well you'd fit into NYU."
She said. I sighed. 

I often wonder how my life would've ended up had I gone to a more fulfilling school. But then, I thought with a small smile, there's no way in hell I would have ended up right here right now - exactly where I wanted to be. 

The temperature soared to 33c and the sun danced across our limbs as we finally left the coffee shop in the late afternoon and perused around the local vintage stores, before we bade our goodbyes and I hopped on the subway to catch up with Hywel, Heather and Alex who were wrapped up in birthday celebrations in the garden of a German Bierhaus in Williamsburg.

Later we returned to that famous 4th of July roof to watch the sun set, and my previously empty heart was bursting with joy again. 

When I eventually returned to the boat in the wee hours, inspired, invigorated, half a drunkenly-bought bagel in my bag, I felt thoroughly enforced, armed with a forcefield of impenetrable optimism - there was no way it would get me down this weekend.

And I owed it all from one little midnight in the Manhattan.