She Knew Better
The intentional grid like configuration of the streets of Manhattan is referred to as the Commission of 1811. The commissioners revered their design because it combined 'beauty, order, and convenience'. However aesthetically pleasing, the formation has a way of assaulting every New Yorker and wanna-be New Yorker alike. This assault takes place when the never ending streets serve as wind tunnels that violently whip winds through the streets and deliver what feels like literal slaps to the face.
This story happens to be about a particularly slapping wind in September. One that felt less like a slap from a drunk girl at a barcade in Williamsburg, and much more like the lasting sting only your mother's hand could produce.
Like the one I received when I was sixteen, and I told mine that she was weak. Weak for staying with my father when she knew he was sleeping with other women. It wasn't the slap that hurt. It was really just watching the single tear roll down her cheek and hit the linoleum. It crashed to the floor with what I presume to be the same force of a brick hitting concrete after being dropped from the top of the Empire State building. At the time it only hurt because I made her cry, now that slap hurts for a different reason.
It's five years later and I'm standing outside of a bar on Mercer street, with a boy I'm sure I love. He's smoking a cigarette. Malboro Red, actually.
I'm staring down at my boots. They're suede and have a pointed toe. Wearing them makes me feel like I'm cool enough to be standing outside of a bar on Mercer street, with a boy who's smoking a cigarette.
I was so focused on dodging the wind and convincing myself I belonged there, that I didn't hear him the first time he said, "hey look, we aren't exclusive or anything are we? I've been seeing other people."
I looked up, and he blew cigarette smoke into my face. I inhaled it. It felt like my father's mistakes and my mother's devastation crowding back into that pit in my stomach.
On exhale, without a second thought, I shot him a cool girl smile and said, "yea, for sure, me too.".
When I was sixteen it was so easy to see how my mother was wrong and the reasons she was weak. Even still, that night, I knew what I did was necessary. For the men of my commission I needed to make sure that I act orderly and remain convenient, so that I can be beautiful.
But by saying those words I had reduced myself to less than. I melted into those boots. I laid myself flat, preparing myself for the slaps of my future. The slaps from the city I love and all of my sort-of boyfriends to come.