Saturday, December 8, 2007

I Am an American, Part II

Tonight I went to the Gawker Christmas party at Chairman Denton's lovely SoHo loft. After an hour or two of getting to know my coworkers a little better, I shuffled on off to the birthday party for a girl I used to work with. The celebration was at M Bar in the east 40's, and I paid $30 for two vodka gimlets. After that I milled about midtown for a while, then went to 72nd to a friend's apartment where we drank cheap big-bottle wine, played with her dog, and talked about theatre. It was a pleasant night.

In the cab on the way home I feel asleep. I often do this. It's embarrassing and silly, but those of you who have ever taken long car trips can understand the odd lull of the humming car, the shake and rattle of this vehicle bouncing you toward home. When I finally came to, we were on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, almost to my apartment. I struck up a conversation with my cab driver, just as our ride neared its end.

He was 34, from Africa. His children, 10 and 15, and his wife are all still in the Ivory Coast. "Oh, I've heard it's very lovely there," I said. And I had. I'd read an article some time ago about the Ivory Coast and how it had achieved what some called the "Ivorian Miracle." An African nation sovereign in its government, providing social services for its population, doing what countries in good, peaceful health do. Of course I am a dumb person and forgot that this Miracle had been written about in the past tense. "Oh no," said my cab driver, shaking his head. "It was very, very nice. But then the civil war came, five years ago, and things got very bad."

He lives in the Bronx and works two other jobs. His family has just been approved to start the immigration process, but before they can come here they must first apply for visas and green cards and all manner of other things. He has lived in the US for thirteen years. He has been trying to get his family over here since.

When he dropped me off, I drunkenly handed him $40 for the $30 fare and said "Thank you, and good luck." He thanked me back and drove away, his yellow cab fading into the reds, greens, and browns of this particular night, on this particular street, in this particular part of Brooklyn.

When I walked up to my apartment, on 13th street, there was a sign on the door about the exterminators. I checked my mail, and there was my Entertainment Weekly, waiting for me as always. My apartment was empty; my roommate out somewhere. The house was quiet. The world suddenly still. And I think of it now, that roll and tremble, this forward ache for the world to be both small and large all at once.

I thought about my parents in Boston, who I will see at Christmas. About my cat who is on chemotherapy (apparently, this exists). How all of that is just one bus ride away. How I grumble and bemoan this iPod and magazine chore. And yet, how light and giddy I feel when I've finally arrived home, knowing that something indefinable has just opened up to me. That strange place of possibility that appears only to some of us, sometimes.

And yet calls to all of us, rumbling along as we do, infinitely.

7 comments:

Hez said...

Always blog this drunk.

LolCait said...

@ Hez

I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never had a drink in my life.

Kristi said...

@ lolcait : intravenous vodka gimlets...the wave of the future.

Lady Artemisia Frontbottom said...

just gimme a second to kill myself and I'll get back to you on this post...

Lee said...

My New Year's resolution last year was to eat more meat and drink more vodka.

cobb said...

If you wanted to give him a real tip you should've given him your URL!

Cesare_the_Somnambulist said...

Best so far. Thank you.