I was walking home with a group of friends from a book party at Housing Works a few nights ago. We were on Crosby street, after a post-party drink at Balthazar, when I turned to one of my group and said, “Do you ever walk down a New York street and remember the first time you ever stepped foot on it?” I got a bunch of odd looks, so kept the rest of my thoughts to myself (perhaps it was a little too much for everyone to think about at 1 am), but I do think about it a lot.
Crosby Street was where I lost my innocence of freewheeling summers and part-time jobs at J. Crew and entered the “real people” working world. My first day and night of work happened to be on the spot I was standing. I can still feel the uncertainty of my 17-year-old self, attired in jeans, converse sneakers and a long-sleeve shirt, waiting for the rain truck to water down the street for our night shoot on the film “28 Days.” I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing, but I was naive and enthusiastic enough that I wasn’t afraid of the consequences. Walking down that same cobblestone street nine years later, I wondered if I would have as much passion and sheer gall as I did at 17. I’d like to think I would, but after trading in the converse for the heels, I’m not entirely sure.
Later that night, I walked by Cowgirl on Hudson Street, where on that same film, I had lunch and frozen margaritas with a guy I thought I loved. I remember playing it cool, thinking it was entirely normal to be drinking margaritas during a work day afternoon with a 29-year-old man who I was “involved” with. Halfway through lunch, his 28-year-old girlfriend (the first I’d heard of her) happened to walk in after seeing us sitting in the restaurant window. Introductions went around, I looked at him, she looked at him and he remained as cool as that margarita saying, “Anna, meet my co-worker. She’s a great kid.” I was flushed both from the alcohol and embarrassment. I had gone from sharing my first real kisses and stolen moments with him, to suddenly become a head pat away from a “kid.” The last thing I remember is him paying the bill with our petty cash, throwing an arm around his girlfriend as they walked out together and turning back to casually ask me to cover for him since he was “ducking out” early. I forced out an “ok,” went in the bathroom and threw up.
The streets I walked down after Crosby and Hudson taught me much more. Cobblestones turned to smoother pavement in Times Square where I spent several five AM dates with a fellow PA (closer to my age) as we were opening the set and sharing laughter & stories over very strong cups of coffee. Stanton Street for a post-wrap party with an incredibly tender guy, whom I still think about and whose beautiful eyes will always haunt my dreams. And Noble Street in Brooklyn, where that same tender guy asked if he could kiss me, but first traced my lips with his fingers — making that kiss even more powerful. Alas, he moved West and I stayed East, continuing to pound the pavement.
But it is in those real world moments (that all started at 17), when New York streets briefly intersect and I learn how to navigate them, each one bringing me a step closer to becoming myself.