This morning I woke up at 9:30 a.m. I'm pissed for several reasons, but mainly because it's Sunday and I have to work tomorrow. I relish by weekend sleep schedule must like Ethiopians relish...hmm...lets say food. But at 9:30 a.m. on the dot, the sound of drums filled my apartment. I thought to myself that if some asshole construction worker downstairs, working on one of the numerous new eateries or shops that is set to open on my beloved Orchard Street, is banging on the wall to a break beat, I'm going to be in court charged with murder before Monday dawns. Peaking out my window, I observed my street was abandoned with only a few random families and young Chinese children running. Where was this drumming?
Remembering that at some point this weekend, according to my good friend Damien, the Chinese New Year was to be celebrated. With a hazy Sunday morning conclusion, I guessed that the drumming must be related to this festivity, so I threw on a zip up hoodie and a scarf and set out. Hey, at least I would get my full day's worth of doing nothing important i.e. actually ENJOYING a day in New York City, instead of having to go into the office.
About a block from my apartment, I spotted a group of teenagers outside the Chinese Tao Association office. They were dressed in red hooded sweatshirts with a Chinese emblem emblazoned on the back. A red sash hung from their individual hips, revealing just enough to show that elaborate costumes were hidden underneath the hoodies to keep these kids warm. A small group of them were playing a mix of instruments. I did not recognize most of them, so it's safe to guess that they could possiblly be allocated to Chinese culture: something I find utterly fascinating. Maybe because it's a mystery to me and I've never been farther than Germany, but something about this music was alluring. I joined a very small group of three to four Westerners on the other side of the street, watching a display of culture that we literally live on the fringe of. And by literally,I mean it in the truest since of the word: My street is considered a border of China Town. so on some days when I'm certain that I'm an unidentified genius, I'm surprised I haven't picked up on one of the numerous Asian languages I hear on a daily basis.
As the music went on, two dragons danced on the sidewalk. The red fringe of the dragons matched perfectly to the sashes of the band, so no one can say that the Chinese don't know the importance of color coordination. The dancing and music went on for another ten minutes or so, and the conclusion was a tiny explosion of paper and streamers. It was not a grandiose ending like Americans are used to, but for a girl who was raised smack dab in the middle of midwestern culture, waking up at 9:30 in the morning to see a trifecta of chinese kids playing drums, dancing dragons, and streamers was something I was pretty amazed by.
Deciding that since I was up, it would be a good morning to check out the new coffee houseon the corner of Delancey and Orchard. It was bound to be cheaper than the cafe two doors down from my apartment, so the extra crosswalk had the highly probable chance of pleasing my dwindling checking account. Also, those bastards on the corner don't accept debit cards, and I believe that 2004 was the last year I regularly carried cash on me.
The new coffee house turned out to be the sibling of my favorite coffee house in New York, Kudos Beans. The owners wanted to branch out from the East Village, so alas, The Bean blessed my neighborhood in the Lower East Side. Not only can I buy my favorite apple cinnamon bread and small coffee for $4, I don't have to walk eight blocks to do it. Waking up early on Sunday morning isn't so bad after all. It was only 9:55 a.m., and I had been to the far East and then back to the Lower East Side.
As of late, I have become somewhat obsessed with Myspace.com. I blame this primarilly on the fact that I work in a cubicle, and anyone who has experienced this professional work environment, you know on most days you'd rather dick around than look at one more Microsoft Office Excel sheet. Instead, you dick around on the Internet. It's like a little oasis trapped inside a box. A little oasis that helps you forget for a few hours that you are trapped in an office, something that almost two years ago while still in college, you never imagined that THIS would happen to you. I'm going to be a writer. I'm going to travel. Fuck Corporate America. Then you recieve your diploma the same day your first rent check is due, along with your cell phone bill, electricity bill, and possibly a massive credit card bill, and the realization that a cubicle might not be so bad finally inches its way into your conscious. It's only after you are sitting in said cubicle in above mentioned office space that you realize that you have been going down the wrong path: the horribly wrong path lined with time sheets, bitching bosses, CEOs, and human resource managers. The road cluttered with pay stubs raped by taxes. Essentially, you look back and try to sort out what happened,and this morning I found out where I, as my dad likes to say, screwed the pooch.
In the summer of 2003, I participated in a study abroad trip, sponsored by my school. And to make a long story short, I not only fell in love with Edinburgh, Scotland, I fell in love with a boy. This boy and I decided that love at first sight wasn't quite as absurd as most people liked to believe, and we decided that we could make things work. And we were right: Things did work, and the day after I graduated (literally the very next day) I was on a plane moving to Edinburgh to be with him. He still had a year or two of university left, so it made sense for me to be the one that packed up and travel across the Atlantic. When the time came, we would come back to the U.S. and settle in New York, at least for a bit. Well, shit happens, and anyone that knows me knows that I settled in New York eventually, but I was alone. Not technically alone because said boy was still very present in the tears and late night phone calls and text messages, but if you were to peak into my apartment on any given moment, I was the only person there.
One would think it would have struck me then that I had perhaps not thought things through, but it was this morning, this early Sunday morning where drums from China woke me up to find a friend request from an old friend. An old friend who I had been very close to. And with this friend request, I was reminded of my old life in Lawrence, KS. Although I didn't grow up in Lawrence, and in truth, I only lived there for four years, I consider that brilliant city my home. Everything I love, with the exception of my family, is sandwiched between The Kansas Turnpike and 23rd Street. Almost every fond memory from the past six years of my life revolves around early breakfast at Milton's, late night parties in the Student Ghetto, where people will not only give you free beer, they'll loan you a smoke without even batting an eyelash (something completely unheard of in New York City). Every joke, laugh, and frienship wrapped up in the Replay Loung, the patio and bar stools of the Bourgeios Pig, the giant pitchers at Louise's Downtown, and the endless, endless stackes of vinyls at The Love Garden. The point where I fucked up was the day I left Lawrence without looking back. Although I don't regret moving to Edinburgh, because the love I felt for E was real, I still miss every day I skipped in Lawrence. I miss the all night coffee houses and the late night mexican food at La Parilla. I miss the summer afternoons spent in the park downtown, followed by spontaneous front lawn barbeques with frisbies, pot, and soundtracks that ran the gammut of Hendrix to the Gorillaz. I miss the ever present Lawrence music scene, and all the snobs and bands that went with it. I miss the jazz band in the basement of the Taproom, and the red light bulbs that lit the mood perfectly. I miss 1960s soul dance parties on the patio of the Replay, and truth be told, not one of those dance parties either before or since beat the dance party started by myself, Brian Anderson, and a Ms. Laurel Woodhouse. Lawrence is a city where everyone from hipsters to engineering students like University of Kansas basketball; A city where everyone owns at least one album from The Love Garden and everyone has at least one friend who has played at The Bottleneck.
I find it funny that I had to travel to Scotland, then to New York, then to the East (at least in the non-literal sense), and then back to New York to realize that I missed a small city in north east Kansas. I'm sure the intellectuals at the Pig would find this hilarious....