I had breakfast at the pizza place beneath the apartment. They knew my order.
A slice with extra cheese?
Yes please. I haven’t been vegan since I lost my will to live a few months back, and while I’m now entirely happy, I’m holding off my food choices until after America. I caught the subway to Williamsburg to look at guitars. I wanted a small guitar with a pickup. I fell in love with one, but my musician friends talked me out of it. They ended up marching down there to play with all my choices themselves, and in the end I couldn’t find one I loved enough.
I caught the east side ferry downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge. I was the only one waiting at the docks, and the only one on the ferry. It was a mild night, wet but not raining. Upper Manhattan was breathtaking, it felt like I was flying down the water’s edge, and as the Brooklyn Bridge came into view I was sure I’d stepped into my own imagination. I had been waiting for this moment for years. When I was at my saddest, I would dream of the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d dream of being invisible in the city that never sleeps, disappearing into the dark streets and looking up to see a sliver of dark sky. The bridge was empty and shining in the rain. Aside from the traffic beneath me, I was the only person there. I walked over it slowly, until I got half way across. I thought back to Pete Dobbing, the street performer who always said his favourite place in London was halfway across any bridge. In some ways, this moment was exactly as beautiful and poetic as I had expected it to be; in other ways, it was completely different.
I was finally standing halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge, but I no longer wanted to throw myself off it.
For a start, you can’t really throw yourself off it, unless you just want to throw yourself into traffic, which is fairly unromantic. The walkway runs down the middle of the bridge, so you can’t lean over and look at the water like you can on the Waterloo. Instead you’re suspended on your own quiet walkway shining in the rain, wondering whether you’ve ever felt this happy.
I had arranged a date with the guy who let me wee in his apartment before learning my name (we shared an uber and I was busting), but he seemed to be trying to get me to come to his house rather than go out. No thank you. I headed back to that alien dive bar to meet a friend. Again, the cab driver implied that I had given him the wrong address. “No, this is it”, I said confidently. I got out of the cab and walked away from it, and as it disappeared around the corner I realised that this actually was the wrong street.
I walked up and down the street, trying to get my bearings. I had no phone battery, and I didn’t recognise any of these street signs. I heard a whistle from the shadows. Great, now I’m going to get sexually assaulted. I was having such a good night, too. I heard another whistle, this time closer. A dark figure stepped out of the shadows across the road and flicked his fingers to summon me over. He thinks I’m a prostitute, that’s what this is. This used to happen all the time in Brixton. Well, I’m not working, mister. I’m just looking for –
“You looking for the Jupiter bar? It’s in here”
He opened a door that had previously blended into the brickwork.
Are you tired of being able to find where you’re going? Are you bored of getting out of a cab and feeling relatively safe in your environment? Want to have a conversation in a room so dark you can’t see the person you’re talking to? The Jupiter Bar is the bar for you.
Looking back, the best conversations I’ve ever had were in the dark corners of that bar.
We met a husband and wife who had been married for over 50 years, and we asked them what their secret was. “Separate bathrooms”, he says. “No, not literally, that’s a metaphor. You need to have your own lives that you can retreat to. You need to have space that’s your own, not just physical space”. My husband and I are monogamous, but sex isn’t an ultimate betrayal. Sex is a big thing, but it’s also a small thing, and it’s only one thing. One thing alongside so many other things that my husband and I have. If sex was placed at a higher value than all of the other things we share, what does that say about me? Or him?
Does anything have the potential to destroy your marriage?
We took the conversation back to his fancy apartment, he played piano while we drank gin.