Our first full day in NY, having arrived really late the night before (actually, really really early that morning) at our new apartment, we woke up early A) because we were hungry and B) because I had convinced Liz that we should get up early and go to Central Park and stand in line for Al Pacino’s final (free) performance in The Merchant of Venice (weeks later the show would move to Broadway and charge hecka hundred dollars a ticket), reminding Liz, who seemed more enthused about A) and less enthused about B), that if we were going to move across the country and be all adventurous and fancy, then this (B)) was precisely the type of fancy, adventurous thing we should be doing (as soon, of course, as we had fulfilled A)).
So after walking from our apartment for several miles in we-had-no-idea what direction towards we-had-no-idea what and finally finding a McDonald’s, we sat satisfied (at least, in regards to A)) over Sausage McMuffins with Egg and I figured out how to use Liz’s phone to GoogleMaps walking and subway directions from our location to Central Park, and after circling the same block numerous times in search of the indicated subway entrance, and walking up and down the steps of several such entrances and crossing streets and questioning annoyed MTA attendants in attempts to get on the correct side that would go in the correct direction, and then passing our stop twice, once one way, then the other (cuz we were on the A, not the C)—all behaviors that would become frequent motifs in the days to follow—we arrived at the Park, made our way to the Delacorte Theater, where we found the line that began at the box office and ended…ended…ended…0.7 miles and 13 minutes later at the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Liz and I both thinking, at the same time, we would later learn, how nice it was to live in a city where this many people—and look, from all walks of life—would camp out in the Park—for days, it appears, in some cases—for the love of theater. The love of Shakespeare. It was so nice that we weren’t the least bit annoyed an hour later when we made it kind-of-almost up to the box office but the tickets ran out, just before we were approached by the first scalper, a stringy blonde girl who appeared to have given up on eating and now needed money to buy things that were probably not food (she reported that after waiting in line for twenty-six hours she had decided that she didn’t really feel like going to the show and would we like to buy her tickets from her), the first of about forty scalpers that would approach us before we escaped the Park, most of whom employed the muttering-under-the-breath method and all of whom we had passed on our wistful 13 minute walk to the end of the line. The excitement continued as we crossed Central Park West to the Natural History Museum, outside of which we witnessed a “scalper fight” that Liz remembers better than I do but that consisted of a meth-ed out scalper boss lady shouting at her cranked-out scalper minion—who had waited all night but got tired and bailed shortly before the line started moving—that now she wouldn’t have enough effing tickets for her effing buyers and so forth.
The next two hours we spent in search of a Kmart, the hour after that, having found Kmart, searching for the Kmart’s entrance, and the hour after that lugging several bags of Kmart merchandise (those big bags they have, the ones you could put a toddler in, if you know what I mean) and a box of cat litter up and down a busy NY street in search of a subway entrance, finally giving up and paying way too much for a cab ride from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, unaware we had been in Lower Manhattan and unaware we had been super close to a number of subway entrances.
As the sun set on that first day and we realized we had no batteries for the pump on the air mattress we had just purchased at Kmart, I stood on our stoop and gazed toward that Big Apple, resigning myself to the fear-laden knowledge that the following day we would have to face her again, in search of batteries, not knowing—having seen only our small stretch of Crown Heights—that Brooklyn offered real stores that sold real things, and either she would consume us, body and soul, or we would emerge from her clutches victorious, batteries in hand.