New York, Discontinued

I started constructing my New York in the back of my dad’s Eldorado. We were on the West Side Highway on the way back from the Bronx. I looked into the lit-up apartment windows and was struck with a sudden realization—like I was in the center of an explosion:

“People live here.”

My New York is different than yours. For all I know, you walk past the Brooklyn Banks every day on the way to work. If you do, you don’t notice where Dave and I sat and ate beef jerky that he stole from the Duane Reade. On the other side of town, there’s a bar on 23rd and 9th which you will find entirely unremarkable. You’d be wrong, but how could you know? It’s not yours.

At some point, I started saying goodbye. This starts to happen the first time you point to a new cafe and say, “Yo, this used to be my bodega.”

Recently, I saw the whitewashed windows at Manitoba’s in Alphabet City. I thought about the last time I was there. The last time I played air hockey in the basement. The last time I paid a tab. The last time left. I didn’t realize it was the last time, of course. That’s how it goes.

So long.

I work three blocks from a John Varvatos store. Once, it was CBGB — a place that was, if I’m being honest, effectively a zombie long before I walked through the doors. That hasn’t stopped me from taking all of it as my own. The parts that were mine and the better times that were someone else’s, they both belong to me. The awning is still there.

I think about my apartment on Grand Street. The restaurant downstairs is still there. The waiter who thought my name was Robert because I was too awkward to correct him? He’s gone.

I wonder if it realized when I moved in my two pieces of furniture that I didn’t even know how to do laundry yet. The person who lives there now put up shelves in my room. I can see them through the window from the street. I hope they figured out where the mice were coming from.

What if that place could talk to the apartment on President Street?

“Yeah, he got the dog eventually. The landlord is just as bad though. Anyway, haven’t seen him in a while.”

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Present: Designing Stories at Instagram. Past: Head of Design at Vine. Future: A dope ghost

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Rich Arnold

Present: Designing Stories at Instagram. Past: Head of Design at Vine. Future: A dope ghost