When I moved to New York City ten years ago I was but a boy. I had visited New York City many times before; I’d even stayed in the City That Never Sleeps. I’d dined out before, I’d spent marathon days which began in early mornings and ended the following morning. I had done a lot of that. But in truth I had no idea. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Now that I’m back who knows if I’ll ever leave (until they pry my lifeless body from the city limits sign in the north Bronx or far out in Queens).
There were many things I discovered when I first lived in New York City; one of them was that I was not the last guy standing at the bar at Starbucks; there were people who were there even more than me. Anyone who’s been to a Starbucks in any major metropolitan area knows what I’m talking about. That scary guy in the back corner who has like a suitcase and is really dirty looking and has shady eyes? You know that guy right?
Well when I first started coming to Starbucks in New York City it was this tall older guy. He’d roll in with a desktop computer (monitor and all) on a rolling luggage apparatus. I never knew where he’d come from but it was always in the same way. I worked in the Broadway theatres and in an era before I was married, I had no curfew. My then girlfriend lived elsewhere so I would go out to the 24 hour Starbucks to write plays in the inspired late night hours. On my early nights in the theatre, I’d get out at 8:15pm and then I’d head over to the 24 hour Starbucks on 42nd Street below what used to be the Loews Theatre (now the Regal E-Walk Theatre) and I’d get to the task of creating drama.
However the drama was all in my head when this dirty older guy would roll in with his desktop computer and set up his program. He’d roll in and I’d usually be spent from my full day. I’d later discover that he’d typically fall to sleep in short order. I also noticed something else; I’d see him in other Starbucks at other times during the day.
It did not take too long for me to realize that this guy was homeless.
I’ve seen him again recently. He looks better, healthy and whatnot. He doesn’t drag around that desktop anymore; he’s actually got a laptop. He’s also got a cell phone, but he still wheels around that empty cart.
As I sit here, 10 years later, in a similar corner of a similar Starbucks, surrounded by high powered suits and trendy fashionistas, I see which road my life has taken.
I must admit even I was a little surprised by this.