July 2, 2009 by Sarojini Seupersad
My very good friend, who shall remain unnamed, got drunk recently at a mutual friend’s party. Not regular, everything-is-funny drunk. No, not that. More like, I’m-going-to-fall-if-you-don’t-hold-me-up kind of drunk. This is a person who can drink me under the table four times over and usually holds liquor well. I should know; I’m usually the only sober one left at parties because I’m not much of a drinker. And I stand by and marvel at how much alcohol can be put in one tiny body with little to no consequence. It truly is a sight to see.
On this occasion, much to my surprise, one minute we’re having a coherent conversation discussing her recent trip abroad, and the next, she’s telling me she’s going to roundhouse kick me in the stomach. Ouch. Time to slow down.
I take her downstairs to drink lots of water and breathe fresh air. She’s getting harder to understand and repeats herself a lot; not for my benefit, but I think for her own. We decide we should go home and leave the alcohol to the professionals. She lives a few blocks from my apartment, so I’m happy to take her home. Well, not happy, but she’s my friend and that’s what you do. She agrees after much coaxing, but needs to walk out onto the fire escape one more time before we go. After I get her off of the fire escape, after a almost-disastrous ending, our friend Damien helps me with her down the stairs to the street level. It was harder than you think.
She tries to roundhouse us both as we walk down the street. I have to hold on to her to keep her from walking into traffic. She tells me the casual crush I have on a guy we know is useless: he has a small penis. She shows me exactly how small with her thumb and her forefinger and then points to her crotch. I raise my eyebrows. That is small. I don’t want to know how she knows this or if she’s just making it up. She tries to kick us again.
As we approach a small, enclosed park on Spring Street, she climbs on the two-foot high concrete partition that the iron fence is attached to. She’s very happy there, stands and holds onto the iron bars, like she’s in prison waiting for her bread and water, but it’s fine with me and we all take a little rest, figuring out our next move. Across the street is one of my favorite pizza places, Pomodoro’s. It smells like a little piece of I’m-too-tired-to-go-home-like-this heaven. We ask her to come down and eat with us, over and over again, but she really likes that fence. Pedestrians pass by and stare at us with mixed reviews; some with thumbs-up and an agreeable nod, some with eyes-rolling. I usher them by, waving my hands as if to say, “There’s nothing to see here folks. Move it along.”
I know! I promise her some pepperoni. That works and she follows us across the street to Pomodoro’s, where she gladly sits down, eats a slice, drinks some water and starts speaking to us in German.
It’s an improvement.
I can’t even bother trying to find a cab, and since we live so close over the Williamsburg Bridge, I decide the subway is the quickest course of action. Damien bids us goodbye and wishes me luck and off we go, to the underground. She behaves mostly, but also cries and speaks to me in German and when I tell her I don’t speak German, she simply replies: Yes you do.
I walk her up to her apartment on the fourth floor and she’s downright mild-mannered by the time we get there. I decide to go home to my apartment, although it’s almost 5 in the morning, instead of crashing on her couch. After this night, I need my bed. I cross over a small intersection and walk over to Jefferson Street. On the corner, there’s a small, harmless mob of men leaning on a car, who whistle and say, “God bless you, honey,” as I walk by. I’m not in the mood and I ignore them. I’m usually up for a “Get the hell away from me,” but this is not the time. A city bus suddenly shoots by and a few cars follow it. It’s easy to forget that it’s 5am Sunday morning. I wonder where that bus is going and who is on it.
As I continue walking down Jefferson Street, away from the subway, the traffic disappears and the buildings open up. I can see the sky more and my eyes are drawn to it, narrowed. The bluest, darkest, slightest touch of dawn started to creep up on Brooklyn. It looked like the cobalt blue glass pitcher my mother kept for all of those years, shiny and transparent. The air was cool, I had on my favorite dress and I was walking home with the light at dawn. It was still about an hour away, but I could see it, right in front of me. A stout man, walking toward me, walking his tiny poodle-type dog, nodded at me and said, “Good morning,” as he passed me on the sidewalk, and I said “Good morning,” and kept walking down the street. I smiled to myself.
It was quiet except for the morning birdsong. I walked slower and breathed slower, tilted my head back and closed my eyes, while I took it all in. I raised both hands in the air straight above my head, with outstreched hands as if I was too eager to answer a teacher’s question and sighed a little bit, just a little and opened my eyes. And stared at the cobalt above me.
This street was mine and it was going to be a good day.