City Porn (it’s not what you think)

by Aimee Herman on May 5, 2016

When Brooklyn felt too heavy to hold onto, I moved to Boulder, Colorado. There, I continued my undergraduate degree (which by that time spanned seven years) and gave myself permission to slow down.

The mountains became my new lover; I strutted my nude to them every morning against large window overlooking their height and contours.

Being away from New York allowed me time to see other ways of living. I breathed in the smell of earth, minus the impressively potent stench of urine. Buildings were uninterrupted by graffiti. Bricks were just bricks. Bars and businesses closed earlier than I was used to, but this just gifted me more hours of sleep.Colorado

As the weeks and months fell at my feet, I found myself longing for the smells and sirens of New York. During the day, I was present in Colorado. At night, I fantasized about Brooklyn and the boroughs that suddenly seemed too far away.

I began romantic entanglements with woman, and as we’d knock our lips together, I thought about 4th Avenue where I had a panic attack outside a gay bar and had to get nine stitches in my chin. I made love to a hippie, while imagining West 4th Street serenading me, signing its Stonewall history into my skin. I had a brief affair with a slam poet, but all I could think about was Prospect Park during Autumn with the leaves straddling several shades of red and orange and the music of their crunch against green and brown ground.

One year plus some weeks and months into my Rocky Mountain relocation, and I am sitting in a waiting room, about fifteen minutes early for my therapy appointment. I peruse the coffee table full of well-read magazines and almost gasp when I notice a surprising old friend: Time Out New York. At the time, I thought it odd to be sitting there, a periodical tease, flaunting its lit readings and gallery openings.

I looked around me as though I was picking up a dirty magazine, flipping to the centerfold. I felt so guilty, knowing once I opened it, I’d be reminded of all I was missing. So, I frantically flipped, before anyone came out.

Now, I am not exaggerating when I confess that I was sweating. Triathlon sweat. Walking across country wearing wool socks and an overcoat in August sweat.

It felt just like sex often does: every vein being tangled with, coupled with guilt and remorse. I scanned the museums, angry that I was missing an exhibition with Marina Abramovic. I noted my favorite novelist was doing a book signing. A new restaurant had opened in my old neighborhood. All the photos of all the people taunted me with their big city happiness. I was reaching my orgasm and it was actually real this time. I threw the magazine across the room, just before my therapist opened her door and gestured for me to come in.

I spent just over three years in Colorado and in that time, I lived in five different apartments: a studio, two bedroom where I lived with a hoarder, another studio where the building became infiltrated with bed bugs, a one bedroom with my partner and dog, and then the bottom floor of a house with porch, backyard and nearby ice cream shop. New York never left me, even though I tried to lose its number. I distracted myself with quinoa and kale (two words I never uttered before moving to Colorado). I became a full-time hippie, with dreadlocks and body hair and bare feet and……I’m not sure how any of that correlates to being a bohemian, but I felt free. Free‘er. 

And when no one was looking, I got out my Time Out New York, hidden beneath mattress, old Metro card, tiny bits of paper with directions to various city haunts, took off all my clothes and masturbated to the memory of my favorite city.

It’s been over six years that I’ve been back in Brooklyn and suddenly, I find myself daydreaming again of the city I disregarded. At night, when New York City finally sleeps, I reach underneath mattress and find atlas with dog-eared page for Colorado, fingering East Colfax Avenue and route 287, dreaming of the Rockies…

****

Aimee interviews Anne Waldman in great weather for MEDIA’s latest anthology, Before Passing.

Read more Aimee in her latest full-length collection, meant to wake up feeling  

Aimee’s website

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