Just graduated from college the previous Sunday, I arrived in the afternoon. Can't remember if I ventured onto public transportation, or took a cab into Manhattan, but I was soon at my new home on E. 15th St. A pal from college had an NYU apartment that I was gonna sublet for the summer. I had a job lined up (starting on Monday - "uptown" on 28th St), a cheap apartment, and I was 22 years old. She would be leaving town in about 2-3 weeks, so I would have the 3-room walk-thru on my own. She took me down to 11th St for cappuccino at Veniero's, and walking those few blocks, and sitting out and watching everyone in the East Village, I thought I was in heaven.
Within a few weeks, my favorite places were The Bar on 4th and 2nd Ave, and BoyBar (they had just opened, and "dared" to have bright lighting - Does anyone else remember the "style" of wearing 2 different t-shirts together?) on St. Mark's Pl. Somehow I never ventured across the street into the St. Mark's Baths (gone, now it's a KIM's megastore) but I did eventually find my way over to the Jewel Theatre (gone, and currently gutted and ready for NYU dorm rooms, no doubt) on 3rd Ave. It was practically my 2nd home, going a few times a week, for hours and hours of porno movies and cruising around (and I vaguely remember some sex...). I had gotten used to the sound of pigeons cooing in the airshaft, and a co-worker had given me a hi-fi (one step up from a close-and-play), and I started frequenting the racks at Sounds on St. Marks (still there, no vinyl, but plenty of used cd's) for used albums and 12 inches. I remember my boss at the time, apologetically telling me my salary would be $14,500 - seemed like a lot to me then (of course, i wasn't yet paying real NY rent - the sublet was $250/month) - actually, sounds like a lot to me now!
Well, I must say I've never had any serious doubts about my choice to move here from Chicago in these past 20 years; sure, some hard times, and some very sad times - and I have to say, I don't even have that many friends. But somehow, the two ex's, and a couple of other folks are my core; and I've managed to enjoy the solitude that a big overcrowded city affords. I suppose a healthy self-image that's taken most of those 20 years to develop helps, too. I guess too that I am a voyeur; I love to just ride my bike, or sit on a park bench and inhale the smells and sounds and images here.
As an extra bonus, my best "on-line" friend is visiting town starting tonight for the next few days; another midwesterner who spent several years in the 80's living here, and it'll be a gas hanging out together. I think the Anniversary party will be a lot of fun.