Yesterday I got in a cab and had a chat with a 27 year old white man named Michael. Michael was the cab driver, a transplant from Arizona, trying to navigate his way-quite literally around Manhattan. I was intrigued to be in his cab not only because he was white but because he was a young American living in NYC.
Most cab drivers in Manhattan are American citizens, they were just born elsewhere. The majority of my cabbies have been of African, Caribbean, Indian or Middle Eastern decent. The cab drivers that I’ve had conversations with were professionals in their native countries. I’ve talked with former doctors, attorneys, and professors who moved to America with dreams of a better life. They find themselves driving cabs chauffeuring people like me around for untraceable money. It’s a wild generalization, I realize. Although, the many conversations I’ve had with cabbies sort of play out this way.
Imagine my suprise to get into a cab the other afternoon and be greeted with a stringy haired bearded white dude from Arizona. Michael was a sweet guy. If I knew any straight girls and if he weren’t a cabbie (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I would totally try to hook him up with a friend. He explained to me, once we gave him directions, that he was having a pretty rough time. He’d only arrived in Manhattan six month prior with aspirations of creating music for the people. He’s a writer and folk musician and figured driving a cab would be the quickest and easiest way to not only learn his way around the city but to make money.
Six months later he’s torn and tattered and questioning his very existence. His words, not mine. I told him I was a writer myself, going through the same sort of thing with my work. New York will kick your fucking ass, I told him. If you can make it a year-you can make it any where. As contrived and cliche as it sounds-it’s the god’s honest truth. I got out of his cab, tipped him 90% of my fare and bid him adieu. He’s on his way to Thailand in a week and then will be back at his second job slinging coffee at a cafe close to Mirs. I want to visit him to see how his trip went and how his writing is coming along.
Driving in Michael’s cab has given me perspective. Mirs is the first lesbian relationship I’ve been in. I feel like it’s sort of like New York. No it’s not kicking my fucking ass but it’s forced me to come to terms with a lot about myself as a partner. How much I give up and how much I mold myself into another image that is not quite my own. I realize that I very much love Mirs and that I’m in it to win it. I also realize that I, like her, have lost a bit of my identity. We’ve been such that our worlds are very much intertwined to the point that it’s hard to decipher where Mirs ends and I begin.
On one hand it’s good, I suppose, that we’re so comfortable shedding ourselves and giving ourselves one hundred percent and whole heartedly to the other. On the other hand, this sort of bare naked truth and the giving that comes along with it has morphed us into two people we scarcely recognize. I am not saying that we’re not who we were before-we’re just different.
This afternoon I forked over a large sum of cash in exchange for the keys to my very own place. I walked up the two flights to my new digs and took a second look at the space that I will call home for the next year or more. It’s small. Only two rooms and a teeny tiny excuse for a bathroom. It’s dirty and the floor in the living room is slanted so much that if I ever decided to play a game of marbles they would all roll to once side of the room in a great glass rush. It’s my slanted living room, though, and my small bathroom and bedroom who’s only window looks out onto a brick wall. It’s bare white walls, exposed and vulnerable. As I looked around it, the feeling of uncertainty subsided and again I was filled with a sense of calm and excitement. It’s very small; humble. But it’s all mine. It’s my sanctuary and it’s just for me.