I remember the night I first felt free. I was eighteen and had moved to New York a few days before. My mother had gone back to California and I’d gone to dinner in the West Village with my brother and some of his friends and when the dinner was over they went one way and I went another.
I walked toward Christopher Street Station or wherever the stop was that would connect me to the 1 and 9 trains back to school and there were strangers everywhere, shadowed near the stoops and lit up under neon pizza signs and smoking outside of clubs and riding breakneck toward Brooklyn, helmetless and unconcerned.
I thought I was going the right way, but I wasn’t sure, and there was no friend to ask.
I was loose in a chaos I had always longed for, and no one knew me, no one at all. There were endless weedy corner basketball courts, and sprawled human shapes with sleeping bags pulled over their heads, and con-artists pretending to be fashion designers, and theater people pretending to be in love with you, and unnaturally tall men who would pick you up and carry you down the street without warning.