The Victimless Crimes of New York City

View of buildings from Bryant Park

I am sitting at a community table, listening to Erykah Badu on Spotify, in a bustling Starbucks on West 41st street near Times Square. I welcome the noise of the espresso machine snarling at me over my own thoughts and even my music. I remember this feeling of aloneness being here.  I’ve learned how to sit patiently in public places–to walk with a blank stare, pretending not to notice I am about to trip over my own shoelaces. I always forget to triple-tie them.

I promised myself I would never come back to this city.

In January of 2009, I moved to Manhattan to attend Fordham for graduate school. I intended to pursue a degree in elections and campaign management. I had no fucking idea what that entailed (and I still don’t). I did not understand the “grid” system that makes getting around this disorienting island “easy.” I had zero nickels to rub together. I maybe had two friends, one or whom was booze. I tried cocaine here for the first time. In short, I died my first enormously painful spiritual death (out of many) here. I did not know my ass from my elbow, so I drank.

Why, you might ask, would I come back to revisit that kind of psychic pain? A new relationship, of course. My karmic godfather bribed me into returning to the city in exchange for the right man. I’d have returned here long ago if I knew the payoff would be so rewarding.

And now I’ve had to make my peace with the city. I have been successful, only because I centered my bat-shit brain and bombastic heart by attending meetings in the West Village, Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen. Yesterday, I met my new best friend (a gay man, because that’s the only way). He walked with me for a couple hours after our meeting and we talked about men, sobriety and love. He helped me feel the beauty and surprise of just wandering. He also helped me find my way back to the Bronx. You could say I’m obsessed.

I guess this trip was my way to make an amends to New York City. I never got closure leaving here so abruptly in 2009. I have the opportunity to forgive myself and the city for turning me into one of its “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere” victims. There is too much possibility to walk around here with that big of a past. I’d rather just carry my Kate Spade purse.

Things seem brighter here now that I am in recovery. I don’t feel like a victim anymore. I have Bowie and Los Angeles to thank for adjusting my attitude about bi-coastal city living. I’ve gotten my nails done, I’ve eaten good food and I’ve had delicious coffee. I think I might be happy.

Midnight meeting time!



Lucy Hartman

Lucy Hartman

I'm funnier when I'm sober.