Day 7: The Brooklyn Assembly

A few days after I arrived in New York, my Minneapolis friend Deb sent me an email. She had a friend who lives in NYC: did I want to meet him, just to have someone fun and cool to connect with? “I would love to meet anyone,” I replied.

What followed was a series of some of the more hilarious logistical emails I’d ever received. “If you wanna grab a drink with me and others at some point this weekend, let me know. I will probably be drowning in liquor and death and confetti.” But I was in Long Island then. Did I want to go to a poetry reading on Tuesday, 7pm? Sure. “Look for an idiot rolling around on the ground. That won’t be me, but look anyway.”

We met at the Brooklyn Assembly, a convenient 3 blocks from the apartment I’m staying in, for the reading. “Cheers. Welcome to New York,” Dolan said, handing me a gin and tonic. “Whee!” I said, raising a very full (and soon I would discover very potent) tumbler. I turned my head, and just like that, two of my friends from Minneapolis — people whom I tended to run into at nearly every event I went to in the twin cities, and also friends of Deb’s — were standing right there, smiling at me.

Jeff! MC!”

That homey feeling, of just running into someone you know, without planning it, hasn’t worn off since. Countless times I’ve visited New York, and even the whole week I’d stayed here up until that evening, it had always felt more like a sociological experiment than a place I belonged. Moon landing, maybe, something that involved gearing up, storing oxygen. Or like Clarice venturing into the prison hallways to visit Hannibal; I kept my eyes open, I took notes. And I wondered if the month here would feel like the years I lived in Boston, technically connected but held at arm’s length, somehow. Always translating. Never native.

But so few people are native here. There’s a kind of camaraderie in it. That night, I thought to myself for the first time: You know, I could live here.

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