November 11, 2009
I wake up early in my house in Forest Hills, Queens. Turn on the TV to NY Nonstop to get the weather forecast for the day. Take a slow, leisurely bath in the bathroom with hideous peeling wallpaper and plastic shower curtains taped to the tile walls to prevent them from crumbling. Into the kitchen with the chipped-up floor to the mailbox-sized fridge, I pull out a can of V8 and shake vigorously. I spread banana, peanut butter, and honey onto a burrito and roll it up. This I eat in front of the TV on the futon, whose gentle slope to the floor also suggest dilapidation and decay. I carefully draw a cat-eye in gel eyeliner using the mirror at the top of the stairs, and the cracked wooden windowsill to hold my tools. I don two pairs of socks, a t-shirt, and a hoodie, along with my comfortable jeans, coat and slip-on shoes and head out the door for work.
I walk past more humble houses, then mansions, then a row of old townhouses that have always reminded me of a castle. Through the LIRR station, with brick pavement, under the overpass, and into the town.
Whenever I walk in Forest Hills, I am reminded of my original assessment, wherein I noticed that there are no buildings higher than two stories. Save for the high-rise apartment complexes on the north side of Queens Boulevard, the shops are short, squat buildings. I push open the door to Subway, and the man behind the counter grabs a whole wheat loaf. He knows my order, though he does not know my name. We exchange pleasantries while he makes me the sandwich I order and eat every day: 6-inch veggie delite with American cheese, mayo, and everything but the jalapeno and sweet peppers. I will look forward to eating this sandwich all morning.
Across the once daunting 12-lane Queens Boulevard I rush, into work. Work! Answering phones at my desk, fending off cats, filing, and trying with all my might to get the banking for the day accomplished by 5:00, the time the bank closes. Eight hours later, at 7:00pm, I will leave for the day.
I walk back through the town after rush hour has passed through. Already dark. Peeping into the windows as I pass lit from within by warm, soft lamps. Families laughing and eating dinner together, cozy living rooms reading by a fireplace. It’s beautiful. But it’s not quite right. Yet. It’s on track, it’s close, it’s sweet and I can appreciate it in its own right. But I want more. I think, if you ever stop wanting more, you may as well quit, right? And I’m not ready to quit. Not yet.