My straight boyfriend and I have this thing we do.
We live in Midtown Manhattan -- inches from Times Square and all the big Broadway shows. Some days, I stumble out of the house to get the paper and coffee and find myself dodging a line of people waiting to see Hairspray or the David Letterman show.
Often, J. and I will find ourselves swept up in a crowd of people, suffocating under a million conversations. Whenever we walk down the street and either of us feels particularly claustrophobic, one of us will say, "I have to tie my shoe." This is our code for, "I have to stop and wait for these people behind us to pass or else I may turn around and punch someone in the teeth." If we really want to amuse ourselves, we may wait for the person behind us to get a step ahead and then announce loudly, "Oh, wait . . .I'm not even wearing shoelaces!"
It's really only funny to us because no one ever notices we are insulting them.
My thoughts lately have been about space, or lack thereof. It occurred to me that one source of the infamous New Yorker neuroses may be that we are tremendously selfish about personal space in a city whose population is greater than some whole states. I claim to love the fact that there is such a diverse number of people in this city, but then I long to walk the avenues and not have to share the vast stretches of concrete with my fellow man.
In the opening sequence of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Miss Golightly wanders the stretch of Fifth Avenue in front of Tiffany's in her long black gown completely alone. There is not a soul on the street to encumber her morning reverie of diamonds and jewels. I long for moments like that. Yet, when I pass the same stretch of avenue, I am pinned in by shoppers and businessmen at every hour of the day and night. It seems, amidst the endless chatter signifying nothing, there is never enough room for melancholy to stretch it's languid arms. At least, not without bumping into another breaking heart.