I moved to New York City five years ago today. Fresh out of film school, I moved into my then-girlfriend’s studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen – on W. 45th between 10th & 11th. The apartment was across from a horse livery, so it always smelled faintly of farm, and there was a gas station on the corner that was almost always overwhelmed with taxis. I sent my résumé to every post-production house in town looking for work, and I ended up working the graveyard shift doing quality control at MTV, a job which I got through a temp agency. As a result, many of my early memories of living in the city feel surreal and isolated –– wandering around Times Square in the middle of the night, watching ten straight episodes of “H2O: Just Add Water” (it was my job), and going to bed just as the rest of the world was getting up.
A big part of acclimating to New York City, at least for me, was in giving up trying to make the city what I wanted it to be and accepting and adapting to what it is. Early one morning, sometime during my first year here, I was riding the subway home from work and there was a preacher standing right next to me screaming about Jesus, like they do. I was tired and cranky, and I’d already waited too long for the train to arrive, and now there’s this guy screaming in my ear about how we’re all going to hell, and it’s impossible to ignore because he’s right there. I waited for him to get off at the next station, and when he didn’t I finally turned to him and said “SHUT UP!” He paused for a moment, surprised that he’d been acknowledged at all, and then went right on screaming. When the train stopped at the next station, I switched cars.
And now, five years in, I’m doing better than I ever imagined, and in a few weeks I’ll be moving into a new apartment with Franny, who is a better woman than I ever imagined being with. And tonight we’re going to Green-Wood Cemetery to see a good friend perform in a play, and last Thursday my new film premiered in Brooklyn, and last Wednesday we went to a cocktail party in the penthouse of Franny’s apartment building, and so on… New York’s okay these days, when I can stop and look at it all.
“There is no such thing as nonfiction. There is no such thing as truth. People who really know what happened aren’t talking. And the people who don’t have a clue, you can’t shut them up. It’s the same with your own stories, the ones that circulate around with your family and your friends. We’re all part of the same hypocrisy.”
“We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”