Archive for January 8th, 2009

Suffering For Your Art

I once lived in a seventh floor walkup in the Village. Yeah, seven floors. And I was lucky to find it. When my brother who lives in Texas first saw it he said it was the size of his Jacuzzi. Thanks Richie. My roommate and I lived on the salad bar in the Korean deli downstairs. Much easier than carrying groceries. There was a mouse who only seemed to appear when there was company. Which wasn’t very often, because who wants to walk up seven flights of stairs? When I moved in, my father said, “Only your best friends are going to visit you.” Thanks Harry.

One winter it got really bad when the heat was turned off. So I had no heat and no stove. I had a job standing at the front door of a trendy place on the Upper East Side. I was checking coats and also supposed to keep out undesirables. So I was frozen all night with the door opening and closing. I wore silk long underwear under my nice Upper East Side look outfit. But still, by the end of the night, my body was cold to the bone after standing at the door all night saying, “Sorry we have a private party tonight,” to anyone who looked bridge and tunnel or was carrying a Duane Reade bag. So during the no heat siege, I created a system for falling asleep in my freezing apartment. I would take a cab home and go directly to the Korean Deli on the corner. I would buy a hot soup. I would take the soup home and put it on my night table. Then I would get into the bed and cover myself with every blanket I owned and on top I would put this big lime green terry cloth robe that was once my best friend’s father’s. For some reason the weight of the robe really helped. Then I would get into bed and eat the soup, which would warm me up enough on the inside so I could fall asleep. This went on for days. I depended on that soup.

One night, when I asked for the soup, the guy behind the counter said, “Oh, we ran outta soup already.” My lower lip started to tremble. Tears came to my eyes. I stood there and said, “Oh.” I must’ve had some look on my face because the guy said, “Don’t worry, don’t worry ‘ bout it. Wait. Wait. I’ll heat a can up for you.” He went and took a can of Campbell’s off the shelf and heated it up for me and put it in a container. All I had said was, “Oh.” How perceptive of him, huh? He was the New Yorker I love to the bone. I felt life my life depended on that soup. I carried it home and was able to fall asleep once more. My savior.

So it was very La Boheme and all. I can laugh now looking back on it. Not so much then.