I hadn’t been able to drive my car for nearly two weeks. I’d parked at the corner during the first blizzard, and was subsequently so buried by the city plows that I couldn’t even see the roof of Sadie, my poor aged Hyundai. With climate change and all, I figured that the snow would melt on its own soon enough. Instead we had another snow and ice storm, and my car was further buried. It got to the point that I figured I’d just wait til spring to drive again. Then they announced the L Train was about to stop full service on the weekends and weeknights.
So today it was in the 40s and I figured if there were ever a moment to dig the car out, this was it. Around 4 I set outside with a shovel and a pick and started working. By 4:30 I could see the roof of my car but it still was buried in the snowbank. Four tweens came by–neighborhood kids whose names I didn’t know but whom I recognized from when they attended the elementary school across the street. “That your car?” they asked. “Dude,” I answered like the mean lady I’ve become. “I’m not digging out SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR.” They all stared at me blankly–I was definitely a weird grownup–but I was too grumpy and sweaty to apologize. After a minute one of them grabbed the pick and started chipping at the snow blocking the wheel. The two other boys started kicking at all the ice. The girl started to pull at the snow with her hands, heaving huge chunks of ice into the street. “You don’t have to do this,” I said, afraid they’d ask for cash since I had none on me. “I’m in a bad mood,” the girl said. “I need to break things. Can you see my eyes are red? A boy was mean to me.” “A boy she used to go with,” explained one of her friends. “These guys are looking out for you?” I asked. She nodded. “They waited till I stopped crying and then walked me home,” she said. I felt like crying, too. These were good boys. We all kicked the snow and shoveled and, slowly, slowly made progress. I kept telling them to go home as the sky darkened. They said they were already late on account of waiting for Pamela, the girl, so they wanted to see the car get out. Big neighborhood guys walked by, offered advice, did not actually help. The five of us rolled our eyes and talked–how to handle it when we got mad, what they wanted to do when they grew up, what I already did. Hipsters scurried by, totally confused by our tableau if they even noticed us.
By 5:30, as I steered and they pushed, the car glided out of the snowbank into the road. We all hollered happily. I offered them rides home but everyone knew they’d be in a lot more trouble if they took a ride from a strange lady. Instead, we took a picture of the five of us on Xavier’s phone. He says he’ll send it on but even if he doesn’t I’ll remember that moment for a while to come. The bunch of us standing in the middle of Conselyea Street, in front of my idling car and the last rays of today’s sun. Yet another beautiful Brooklyn day, and I’m grateful to be grateful. (Update: Xavier sent the photo, pictured above!)
I was having one of those glorious Brooklyn Saturday mornings. I was all gussied up in my Brooklyn Saturday morning finest: a floor-length geometric Meg skirt; an enormous blue-beaded Senegalese necklace; sloppy silver Birkenstock knockoffs (Birkenstockoffs); dirty hair piled high with blue extensions and an orange zinnia; and a bright purple bra visible through my cropped tee. It was a punk-rock homage to the ’70s moms I’d wished were my own–the kind of outfit I really can’t wear to film screenings or Talking Pictures tapings or Ruby Intuition sessions. The kind of outfit in which I feel most myself.
So was I ever feeling grand as I buzzed through my Brooklyn Saturday morning routine. It had been a week of good, hard work in this Summer of Reckoning, and I was relishing a rare day off. I drank Americanos with my Muppet Critics; fetched produce and flowers at the Greenmarket; fed the birds and myself over at Red Hook Fairway; read my book about ’60s directors by the water. I drove the long way home, following the river with my left arm dangling out the window, Biggie and early Mariah pouring into the air. At a red light, I said—Admit it. You love your friends to bits but you are your best friend. You trust yourself. You always want to do the same things as you, you find the same things funny, you have the same values, you like the same music, and you want to be quiet at the same times. You may be impatient and messy and even occasionally imperious but you dig you. It was an odd but not unpleasant revelation. Knee-deep in my early-middle age, I finally appreciated my own company enough that I’d avoid others before I’d ever avoid myself.
To cement the moment, I smiled cheekily in the rearview mirror–hey, good-lookin’!–only to notice I was wearing a crazy-lady, half-lipsticked grin. The universe’s sense of humor being what it is, the world’s most beautiful man picked that moment to bike by, and as he gave me the world’s most beautiful eye-fucking, the light changed. Flustered, I stalled my car, and everyone behind me began honking. I had to laugh. I knew that, as my best friend, it was now my duty to make fun of myself–pride do goeth before a fall! I didn’t mind. I knew I still liked me.