I wish I had spent more time on Coney Island when I was living in New York City. I think it’s a shame that there are always things that we wish we had done when living in a certain place, things that, for whatever reason, perhaps we think we might eventually get around to, that we just don’t do, and don’t think about until it might be too late. When I moved to New York City I was excited about exploring everything; even tourist traps that most New Yorkers might avoid, because they are worth the experience even if only once. One thing that I quickly got annoyed with were the dance troupes. Not because I didn’t like it, but because they were franchised, the same troupes were doing the same things everywhere in the city, and they made it increasingly difficult for unique buskers to do their own thing.
I’ll never forget something that my mom told me over the phone on one of my first few days living in New York. She said, “take mental notes of the little things there [in New York] that are unique to the city that will eventually become commonplace.” I can’t say, but what she said has always stayed with me. And the first note that I made of the city was of the steam rising from the grates in the city sidewalks and, because she told me that, I remember still the feel of the steam on the tips of my fingers and against the bottoms of shoes, and the sounds that it made beneath the city, and how running cold water on a hot frying pan, although inflated, still reminds me of sound. I used to go to Times Square, for no reason other than that I could, and there was almost always a mob of people, and few locals ever went, nevertheless, those few city blocks are unique only to New York, and I just always wanted to remember. And because of that, too, I was one of the people in Times Square learning about Michael Jackson’s cardiac arrest from the ticker tape and watching coverage on the jumbo screens. I later watched the coverage of me and the others that were hanging out near the TKTS booth watching the coverage.
One evening, several of my friends and I had closed down our favorite bar, Carlow East, on the Upper East Side. New York City bars close at 4:00AM. We were all pretty close to the bartenders so we would often hang around the bar after closing. On this night in particular, after leaving the bar, we hopped on the subway headed for Brooklyn. We got off of the train near Coney Island, a little more than half an hour later, it was almost 6:00AM at this point. And we wandered in the general direction of where we thought the sunrise should be, and we found a place to sit and watch the sun rising over the bight. We sat there for a while in silence, each of us had our own dreams to contemplate. As a fisherman started climbing over the rocks to get near the water, we decided then to leave, and we made our way to the boardwalk, which was all but abandoned that early. The cool morning breeze, the smell of the ocean, and the creak of the wooden boardwalk beneath my feet, I don’t know, there was something divine about the whole thing. We climbed onto a lifeguard stand and took a picture that has since been lost, if someone still has it, I don’t know.
Afterward, we happened to pass by a diner while we were looking for the subway, in Bensonhurst, I think, and we stopped for breakfast. It was one of the best breakfasts that I’ve had, and I couldn’t tell you what I ate, but it doesn’t matter, it was not at all because of the food. There are some details of that morning that I can’t remember, I was tired and mildly inebriated. Still, it’s hard to let go of the memories of a morning like that entirely, even if you are drunk. I would love to walk that boardwalk again, and to sit on the beach, and to maybe find the diner. I am a bit of a fool for nostalgia.