She was a Lebanese Catholic grandmother living in an Italian woman’s living room in Washington Heights for $1000 a month. She preferred this arrangement than living alone in New Haven. She lost her husband five years ago, and in order to get over the grief, she decided that New York would be the escape that she needed. She made it a task to get out of the apartment by 5 every afternoon because she didn’t want to be around when her roommate brought back her date for the night. She was a member of MoMA which gave her free tickets to all the movies they showed in their compact theater on a daily basis, so every night, off she went, no matter what movie was playing, because if she didn’t like it, she would just walk out. It was free, after all. She tried not to return home until after midnight, so she would spend the last couple of hours wandering around Times Square, with the lights from the billboard flashing and radiating around her and the rest of the crowd.
During the day she telecommuted as an interpreter for a government agency. She was fluent in French, and when she spoke she sounded as if she were French. All of her work was done over the phone, although her computer skills were proficient enough, which took up several hours a day.
She had family here in the States, like a cousin in Colorado, but her children lived in Paris, and her 90+ mother was still alive and well in Beirut. She still had an apartment in Lebanon, but kept it empty. She visited her children in Paris several times a year, but they were painful visits, hinting that there were unresolved issues that happened long ago when she sent them off to live with her cousin in Paris during the civil war back home in Lebanon. Sometimes, her daughter didn’t even want to see her, and when she would visit her son, he would kick her out of the house for a couple of hours every evening so he could put his kids to bed “properly.”
Every weekend she would hang out at MoMA and strike up conversations with random strangers. She met more than a dozen people this way. There are other folks that keep dogs just so someone can speak to them, these dogs are poorly kept. Dogs in the city are so limp and can barely walk- not like the ones outside the city where they leap and wag their tail and pant heavily with their tongue hanging out with such fervor. This town will suck the crap out of you- even the dogs. These people will just do anything to combat their loneliness- even if it’s against the well-being of these poor dogs. Maybe it’s the ether here, but whatever prevents us from connecting is overcome by the ability to talk about four-legged creatures.