I open my eyes Saturday morning and thought:
What the hell am I doing with my life? What is my point in hanging around here? Why am I here in JC, when so few of my friends live in this part of the world and those that do are preoccupied with family? Isn't this the same thought process I go through after every trip, when I contrast my life away with the mundane daily routine here..?
Some mornings are like that. Not all of them, which is an improvement over how things were in mid-2008.
When I'm here, I get caught up in the daily drudge.
But sometimes, I have days where I remember why I chose JC, at least in opposition to Manhattan or Brooklyn.
The doorbell rang early in the morning. Could be the mailman, I thought, or could be Jehovah's Witnesses.
Either way, I wasn't going down to the front door in my polar bear pajamas, so I ignored it.
Later, I went downstairs to discover it had been the mailman. He'd left a package collection slip for me. I knew what it was—the new battery for my old GSM phone. I was sending both my old European-band GSM phones to Aunt Karen who was taking them to Iceland for the family to keep in touch on vacation. The mailman's slip said I could go on Monday to pick up my package at the post office.
But I wanted it today. I'd be at work in Manhattan on Monday, not at the JC post office.
I went out on the streets of JC, hunting the mailman. Near the commercial strip called Newark Avenue, I saw a junk shop. It wasn't enough to get a new battery. I was going to have to charge the new battery for 16 hours before Aunt Karen could use the old phone.
I went into the junk shop.
"I have a really old Siemens. I need to find a way to charge it here, to see if it works, but it's 230-volt. Do you have anything?"
The proprieter brought out a plastic bag labelled "Siemens." He dug around, then pulled out several incompatible chargers.
"Let me see the phone," he said.
I handed him the phone. He walked away for a while and rustled around in the back. I called after him.
"It's a 2002 phone from Australia. I think it's a long shot."
He came back and handed me a compatible charger, then charged me five bucks. I grinned. JC rules.
And then I walked outside and saw a postal truck. I chased down the mailman, who looked at my slip.
"That's Ruben's writing. Let me call him."
He called my mailman.
"He'll meet you at home in ten minutes."
I rushed back home and had barely put my feet on my stoop before I heard him.
Our mailman has kept tabs on me as I had moved from one end of Eighth Street to another. All my mail from my old address finds me here.
JC is so marvelous, because it is like a small town right next to one of North America's largest cities.