It was sitting in the panaderia on a cold Saturday morning in brooklyn, writing furiously on the back of receipts, old boarding passes and anything else expendable in my wallet, that I realized the part of my identity that once considered itself a writer had been left in California three years ago. When have I ever traveled to a new place without my journal? I was disappointed in myself, disillusioned so to speak. I remembered the last time I wrote, it was over a boy I fell so fucking hard for I couldn’t do anything else but write and write and write. I wrote about how electric our first kiss was on that ferris wheel, and how when he touched my lips for the first time, James Brown’s “Try Me” couldn’t help but penetrate our aura as it played in the background. That record has never felt so good. But that was last summer.
At the panaderia, I drank coffee that was reminiscent of the daily cup that Mandrake and I drank on our rushed route to spanish school in D.F. summer of 2006. Italy won the world cup that summer, Zinedine Zidane made that epic head butt, handing over the defeat and I hated Italy for it. Among the brisk air in Brooklyn, the sweetened condensed milk in my coffee warmed my everything, including my nostalgic heart. Musica ranchera played loudly and I was yelled at for the protocol in this tiny little bakery, I had cut in line mistakenly and the women behind the counter were just not sure if I spoke spanish. But I did. I bit into a muffin de nuez, an horeja and a mexican style canoli almost all at the same time, and I chatted up the locals from the neighborhood I had never visited but had heard about so often from friends, JayZ songs and movies. Because you know, JayZ is my only reference to Brooklyn, LOL.
I needed this moment of magic in the midst of feeling so conflicted about being where I was. I was staying at a friend of a friend of a friend’s house, in a 1 bedroom 2k a month loft with hardwood floors, high ceilings and amazing baking items in the pantry. It belonged to a white punk rocker, vegan baker and class action lawyer (I am not talking shit right now, just stating the facts, and this is someone who by the end of the weekend I grew a total soft spot for). But I was skeptical at first, being in Brooklyn on a Friday night with three white folks, one of them my partner. Right across from the projects. How was it that I ended up here?
It felt confusing. Apparently we were on the cusp, the line that separated old brooklyn from what brooklyn is slowly becoming, as Cristy C. Road so honestly put it, derailed.
I decided, with the extra push from faffs, who I am now eternally grateful for, that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of seeing Green Day’s American Idiot live on Broadway in New York, what could have been my second major green day regret in life (the first being offered the opportunity to be an Assistant to management on one of their tours a few years ago. I was in the middle of grad school, had scored a prestigious faculty internship and was teaching my first Women’s Studies class, I was on a different path, gawdammit). This weekend would be the last weekend that Billie Joe Armstrong would be starring in the role of St. Jimmy, so impulsively, I got us tickets with a third in hopes we could ask Cristy C. Road to be our date that weekend. Cristy was unavailable but she invited us to see her and a number of other QPOC writers read at BlueStocking Books in Manhatten. Fuck yes. It was at this event where I both mourned the death of and gave birth to myself all over again.
Cristy C. Road read about growing up cuban , and queer in Miami falling in love with green day and discovering who she was. A very distinct memory of sitting in the car after school, waiting for my mother to finish running her errands while I listened to Green Day’s Dookie on blast came to mind. I was fourteen and feeling heartbreak for the first time. Getting broken up with by a seriously hot mexican punk rocker who just didn’t think I was punk enough because of my love for green day at the age of fourteen felt really fucking hard, like OMG my life is over! And maybe I really am a Poseur?
Back to the poetry reading though, the other performers were equally life changing, Elisha Lim read out of their calendar entitled 100 Butches, brilliant, and Kit Yan spoke loudly and kept it real, and fierce. I walked out of there having had an emotional experience that I just cannot explain in words. What happened to this writer I had left in california? Where had she gone, had I abandoned her? Had I left her on a curb somewhere punk in drublic? Had I decided I just wasn’t a good enough writer? Did I leave writing for fucking baking school? I walked out of that bookstore with the overwhelming feeling of desperation, I needed to find her, soon. Otherwise I would go insane.
Our lovely host in Brooklyn agreed to be our date to the Green Day Musical the following day. It was a nice “thank you for letting us sleep in your house kind of thing.” Ps. I also attempted a vegan Apple Pie which for the most part was delicious, but it was my first time using white whole wheat flour, it’s an interesting ingredient. Zach wore an AVAIL hoodie to the show and I definitely had a moment where I wondered, oh man is he gonna think this is wack? Neti la poseur que no? Even in the most confident of moments, I can sometimes feel small. In a rushed journey on the subway that felt too fast paced for what I am accustomed to, we made it with minutes to spare. Our seats fucking rocked and the show made me cry. It took all of my will power to refrain from singing every single world in the musical and I thought about my life for just a second, Green Day has been my favorite band since I was 13 and I will be 30 in April, shit that’s like 2/3rds of my life. At one point in time, I owned 8 green day tshirts, and I have a photo of ghetto Neti when I was 14 standing in front of our Lincoln, in some cray hoops (not unlike the ones I wear now), some black oversized pants and a Green Day t-shirt. AWKWARD. And I might get that image tatted on me some day.
Sunday night was our last night in town, we stayed in Washington Heights with Faffs’ old friend from his UU days. They live in a mostly Dominican neighborhood and have a 14 month old baby named Julissa, precious as all hell. I fell right in and felt at home. I could have stayed another week if it meant being in community with them some more. All of said words above were brewing in my head all morning on the commute to the airport. I could never live in New York, but it’s a damn beautiful city, with some damn beautiful people, and some damn beautiful magic happened to me while I was there.
On Monday morning, I sat down in my assigned seat, cramped and uncomfortable, buckled my seatbelt, shared a headphone with faffs while we listened to American Idiot, and opened up Cristy Road’s Bad Habits, which we picked up at the reading. The first paragraph spoke of the beautiful street signs in Brooklyn, she reminisced about the corner of Graham and Siegel, two street names that felt eerily familiar, especially for someone that has never been to NY before. I thought for a minute and realized the panaderia I sat in on that Saturday morning was at the corner of Graham and Siegel. It was in that paragraph and in this city where I had found her, and openly embraced the part of my identity that had traveled three thousand miles to see me again, it was at this panaderia where I welcomed her back into my life. And today, on the airplane ride home to Denver, I am excited about the days to come.
I think it’s safe to say that it’s official. New York: I love you.