So, people say I'm cynical, people say I'm hard. People say I used to be a nice young man but the evil city I live in has burned the sweetness right out of me.
New York burns something out of you, all those lame excuses and petty self justifications, all the fake smiles and patronizing nicknames, sweetie, honey, baby, chi'le. A white hot crucible burning off all the soft fleshy pieces, leaving nothing but your hard edges, all shiny and knife sharp. No one cares, no one has the time. 10,000,000 people crammed into 10 square miles, running at top speed to whatever life they think they want. This city will walk right over your corpse without even bothering to take glance. If it's important they'll see it on the 10 o'clock news.
New York is The Great Bullshit Filter, life in fast forward. 10 years of experience in 10 months. 6 years might as well be 60. You want sin and inequity? Head across the street. You want money and fame? This is the place to sell your dreams and your body. You want drugs, alcohol, men, women, late parties, early days and the noisy stench of mankind assualting you 24/7? Walk out your door. You want to whine, and bemoan your wretched fate? Go back to Kansas because we don't care.
This place, this life, these people have changed me. Thank God.
A person close to me recently told me I was too cynical just because I think the world is a mess, that I need to be more optimistic and should thank my lucky stars that I wasn't born a starving peasant in some back-asswards third world dictatorship. Well by golly, by gee, ain't that just a little slice of sunshine?
I suppose I could sit around praising Jesus every day that there's not a 300 pound bouncer with haletosis and a wicked hangover waiting outside my door to kick me in the crotch on my way to work. Maybe I should also throw in a couple Hosanna's and Alleluiah's for not being born a roach in a Decon factory, but I don't think that would do me or anyone else much good.
I grew up in friendly central. People smiling and patting each other on the back, a high five and "how's your golf game", or "I must get that casserole recipe." I also grew up in a place small enough to be so devoid of secrets that you also know that the nice upstanding citizen who was just glad handing you is pulling dollar bills out of the collection plate when he's not banging the neighbor's wife.
Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown, it gave me the base I've stood on all these years and it contains some of the finest people I've ever been fortunate enough to meet, but I also know plenty of people who've been murdered, commited suicide, been crippled in drunken car accidents, pissed their lives away in alcohol and drug hazes, hung themselves on Huntsville's death row, or done stints in mental institutions.
Maybe I'm a bit cynical. Maybe I don't think life is a bowl of cherries with whipcream on top. Maybe I think the world is just as likely to toss you a turd as a bone, but I live in New York, and this place is for dreamers. No one else need apply. Everything is at your finger tips and the only person stopping you is you. The same is true everywhere, but here it's in your face, and your excuses are your own because no one else cares. There is no shoulder to cry on and the only person picking you up when you fall is yourself.
This place renders some people into whining piles of goo. I've been there more than once, but after you've been forced to drag yourself out of the gutter a couple of times you find your footing and learn to finally walk on your own two feet, beholding to no one. And that's a hell of a feeling.
I'm cynical, because I see humanity at it's worst every day. I'm optimistic because I know so many wonderful people busting their ass to make the world a better place just because they think it's the right thing to do. It's all here, the nasty and the divine. It's called humanity.
Yeah, I suppose I'm grateful for not starving to death in some frozen siberian gulag with lit matches buried under my toenails, but I really don't have time to dwell on it because I'm a dreamer. I'm too busy looking over that next hill, where the grass might be greener and the sun warmer. Sure, I might slip a time or two on the way, but, hot damn, I've got the footing and the strength to get there.
If that's not optimism, I don't know what is.
See you there strangelanders...