Last summer I lost my cell phone at the Delancey Street F Train stop after I got in a drunken fight with a good friend at a poetry reading and I had to spend the entire next day in The Financial District trying to find the hotel where a kind stranger who had found my phone was staying. I do not like The Financial District because Ground Zero stresses me out in a visceral way, like, I physically get sick. The shiny mirrored stupid fuck-you phallus stresses me out, the church that looks like a million churches stresses me out, the pretty architecture and the tourists taking photos and the gray and the grey and the rushing men in business suits who don’t even smell nice they smell like ambition not even the good kind, all of it stresses me out. The other day I had brunch at Fraunces’ Tavern in The Financial District and it was just okay. Yesterday my friend and I had to run errands at the seaport and we had lunch at Zigolini’s and it was a little better than fine, I even bought a really cute trenchcoat like from Breakfast at Tiffany’s which was the only thing I needed to accomplish that entire day, but when we got on the bus to take us back to the East Village I felt sick, and the whole time we were in The Financial District I had felt sick and I ate a square of peppermint dark chocolate which usually makes me feel better, but it didn’t.
Last summer on my first night in New York City I went to a poetry reading at The Cornelia Street Café and it was a really great reading and I had a lovely night. Yesterday some of my friends were reading there and I hadn’t seen them as people or as poets for a long time and I wanted to so I went. I walked there from the apartment where I am staying on Avenue C and I did not realize that there is a weird gap in-between the East and West Villages from which you can see Ground Zero but there is.
Poetry readings at The Cornelia Street Café come with a glass of wine, which is like being handed a ticket to the site of a disaster. The lighting in the downstairs part of the restaurant is very yellow against the dark and the red and there is a grand piano on the stage that stays shut. The poetry at the reading was very good and the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was very good and the Nat Sherman Naturals I smoked outside with my friend were very good and it was just cool enough for my new trenchcoat and I felt lost at the site of a disaster.
Last summer on the day I went on a long journey to find my phone a welder from another country, I think it was Austria but I am not sure, asked permission to ride the train with me and for many hours we walked around the city together trying to find The Financial District and drinking Coke out of a vintage glass bottle and we could not find it and finally I got in a taxi, alone.
Last summer I circled the church at Ground Zero at least fifteen times, I kept getting lost thinking it was a different church but it was one church. Yesterday my friend and I walked past the church we agreed it was a very pretty church, I felt sick, we got on a subway, when we got off the subway we were in front of the same church. She said, that looks like the other church; it was the same church.
One of the poets last night read something about cell death it had a lot to do with zeros. There is an obvious correlation between death and disaster and zeros and it makes sense that we use the concept of zero to designate the site of a grand disaster because it marks an absolute, a sense of total helplessness in the face of being one in a collection of humans.
When I saw the half-built tower in the gap between the villages and when I was handed a glass of wine at The Cornelia Street Café and when my friend said, that looks like the other church, I felt helpless, and human, and I existed so much I didn’t. What I like about smoking cigarettes is that I enjoy feeling like I’m going a tiny bit faster towards some end. What I like about disasters and what terrifies me about them is how the moment right before a disaster seems to go on forever.
Last summer on my first night in New York City I took my leather jacket off the coathook on the wall of my room and the gesture took the entirety of my life thus far. When I stopped in the gap last night to look
at the tower I felt so stupidly moved. And when I sat on a friend’s settee hours later, drinking bourbon out of a bottle and singing American opera arias I felt like such an absolute disaster.
There is one good thing about zero, it is potential. A Ground Zero is the site of a disaster, an erasure and an absence, it is a whole other page. One of my yoga teachers in South Bend would end most classes by reminding us that disasters crack us open, give us the potential to become more whole.