Anastasia, the waiting game


anastasiaMarch 2, 1998

It’s one of those rare moments for me – a rapturous assault upon the senses all at once, a bona fide affirmation of life. For the first time in months the fog has lifted from my head. The near fatal beating I took on Flushing Ave. back in January ceases to play over and over again in my mind. I no longer stay up late waiting for Anastasia to come back home. My shame has all but disappeared.

I notice spring lingering sweetly in the air and I feel at ease. Covering up a black eye with a knock-off pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, I begin a triumphant march toward Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge. The forty of Ballantine Ale I savored in a vacant lot down by the East River courses its way through my veins. Dvorak’s New World Symphony starts playing on my old broken pair of headphones.

Off in the distance the sun sets behind the Statue of Liberty, casting sorbet-colored glows across the sky. The city before me, in a single moment, is a beloved woman in waiting. What unknown pleasures, what curious conquests, wait for me on the other side tonight? I wonder. The possibilities are almost too much for my anemic nerves to withstand. My hands tremble.

Halfway across I am overcome with the urge to scream, to lick the sidewalks clean, to hug the first tourist that I see walking toward Brooklyn. I picture the ghost of Walt Whitman burrowing into my body like a weevil into a pile of rotten meat. Ravenous, libidinous, careful and exact, he urges me to frolic about, to passionately hump and fondle every beautiful girl that comes my way, not as a lewd gesture, but as an act of love! Greetings Evening! Hello Manhattan! Here’s to everlasting kindness!

Dvorak’s symphony ascends toward a riveting climax, horns blasting, tearing through walls of remorse, ripping through the seams of inhibition. Death by classical instrument! Just then two girls in short shorts pass me by, give me a look, and start to laugh amongst themselves. Yes! Bliss! God, I am ready. You can take me now.

As I begin my wistful descent from the bridge and into Manhattan I find myself asking, What do I believe? Well, that’s simple. For today I believe in love. And joy. I believe in spontaneity. Freedom. Beauty. The unexpected. Fate. I believe in new beginnings.

That night I get kicked out of a French bistro in the West Village for trying to walk out on the bill – a simple misunderstanding between me and the wait staff, none of whom speak any English. A young couple sitting next to me watches with disdain as the embarrassing scene unfolds. Afterwards, I lose three games of pool to a team of piss drunk sailors. Is it Fleet Week already? Shit. I ask an ugly girl for her phone number to make myself feel better, but she doesn’t give it up. I watch her leave the pool hall with one of the sailors. Sorry, Walt. Perhaps another day.

Later on I limp back to Brooklyn like a wounded animal looking for a shrub to crawl under and die. I stay up late watching infomercials on television – a bunch of shit I’ll never be or afford. At any moment Anastasia might come walking back in through the door. Things wouldn’t be so bad then.

Anastasia, I thought, I know you’re coming back. Maybe I should have waited longer. Maybe I should have given up long before.

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