(Important… this is a follow-up to “Go Blue”… aka, read “Go Blue” first)
I met Rachel Hall in the early fall at an MSM excursion to the Cloisters. We ended up in the same tour group, and unlike the others –who had an eighty year old Jewish woman from Queens conducting their visit; we had a young Columbia University student, who showed us all sorts of hidden homoerotic monk art that had gone unnoticed by faithful churchgoers for centuries. After being acquainted with what was described as medieval pornographic novels for the wealthy, Rachel and I acquainted ourselves with each other over burgers and milkshakes at a small diner in Spanish Harlem. Rachel was from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and after we sang “I Could Have Danced All Night” together on a subway platform, I realized that I had just made a new best friend. Soon, we began meeting up regularly after class to go to Pinkberry for frozen yogurt. I was big on almonds and mochi balls as toppings, while Rachel preferred berry combinations.
About a month into our friendship, I found out that AJ would be visiting New York City. I had compartmentalized, or rather explained the relationship we had as a fling, seeing as how AJ and I never exactly established what we were. AJ, however, was my first whatever, and I was beyond nervous to see him again. AJ and I hadn’t spoken for months and he had since stated that it was really hard for him to speak to me since I left, and that he now felt uncomfortable with letting me in his life as much as he did. Although AJ was very busy, taking interviews with conductors between New York City and Boston to help him to decide his best plan of attack for graduate school, he did have a little time for me. However, I would be sharing this time with Elliot Moore a friend of mine and conducting student at MSM as well as a tenor from Juilliard named Lawrence.
I begged Rachel to go with me to meet AJ. I couldn’t stand the thought of facing him alone again, especially in front of other people. Rachel agreed, but I had to invite her friend Molly Spooner as well. The two of them had plans later on in the evening to go bowling with some of our other classmates, but they would both join me for moral support. We would be meeting at Blockhead’s, a small Mexican restaurant on Amsterdam that featured a wallet friendly menu of flavored margaritas.
When we arrived at Blockhead’s, I felt my heart palpitating rapidly as I approached the door. I had explained to Rachel and Molly that this was the person who made me want to have a real relationship. I came out to my parents shortly after my trip to Michigan, and because of him I realized all the things that I so desperately wanted out of life. He planted the seed of ambition in my soul and made me realize that I wanted to share a home with someone; I wanted to get married and have children some day. It was AJ Samuel who had opened my eyes to a world of possibility and hope, and I was terrified to see him again.
When we stepped inside, my eyes locked immediately with AJ’s. I smiled and we greeted each other in the most awkward of ways. I introduced Molly and Rachel to AJ and Lawrence as we situated ourselves around the table. Molly was excited to meet AJ, because she had received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan a few years earlier, and was hoping to find out some intriguing news concerning her alma mater. AJ wasn’t interested though; his attention was entirely focused on Elliot and his advice concerning conducting. Elliot was far more seasoned than AJ at… well, everything. He had spent the past few years living and performing in Switzerland, perfecting his craft and building his résumé. I felt myself slowly becoming angry that I was being ignored, and by AJ of all people. I was upset with myself for a variety of irrelevant reasons. I thought that he was disinterested in me because I had gained weight since I had seen him last. I thought he felt that I wasn’t as good as his Juilliard friends who he so respected for their status as the conservatory elite. I began to wonder if he was sleeping with Lawrence, the tenor from Juilliard who was berating not only me, but my friends as well by suggesting with severe arrogance that our private instructors were not nearly as good as his.
When we got the check, we all began to say our goodbyes so we could disburse. AJ stood up, gave me a hug and said carelessly “Well it was truly a pleasure seeing you again… keep in touch.” I was so incredibly hurt by this nonchalant farewell.
“How about you call me when you have the time,” I replied. I then turned around and motioned for Molly and Rachel to join me as we made our way to the subway. After I swiped my Metro card, I began to cry uncontrollably and shamelessly as I turned around to exit. Molly took my left hand in hers and began to dry my tears with her scarf.
“Its ok sweetie,” she said “you can do so much better than that.”
“But I loved him,” I said crying.
“I know,” said Molly “but he obviously has issues and even if he did feel bad about the way you two left things, no one deserves to be treated the way you just were. That was rotten, and you can do better. You’re in New York City now, the world is your oyster, and he was not your pearl.”
“But I wanted him to be,” I snuffled.
“Jacob, you are an attractive, talented and vibrant twenty one year old man. He already has a receding hairline, and he’s rude. He was rude to you and to us. He can go fuck himself in the ass with a red hot curling iron for all I care… he hurt you.”
“And we won’t hurt you,” said Molly with her big brown eyes sparkling like two little gems in the crowded subway muck.
“Molly’s right,” said Rachel “we’re you’re friends, and we want to see you happy. Will you go please go bowling with us? Our treat…”
“OK,” I replied, forcing a smile.
We met up with a couple other students from school and made our way to Lucky Strike Lanes on 42nd Street and 12th Avenue. When we arrived, the girls got us a lane and our friend Eric bought our party a pitcher of beer. I felt my anxiety wash away when Molly and Rachel forced me to dance with them to Rihanna’s SOS in front of a bowling alley full of yuppies. I bowled an awful game, but it was the best time I had ever had playing the sport.
We left Lucky Strike devastatingly hungry; we had consumed a diet of margaritas and beer all evening, and were worried it would catch up to us in the morning. Luckily, we spotted an open restaurant where we could grab a late night/ early morning meal. The Coffee Shop is located on 16th Street at Union Square and stays open really until 4am. When we walked in, we were closely examined by a tiny little French man in black with long, unkempt hair under a beret named Pierre. He rolled his eyes at us when we asked to be seated, and took us to a booth. When our waitress came, it was obvious that she was a model of some sort. She made it a point to strut the length of her area like a catwalk and seemed incredibly burdened by our presence. She gave us our menus, and after allowing us all but 5 seconds to search for something appetizing, she asked “are you ready yet?” We shook our heads and she replied “ugh!” and stomped her way back towards the server’s station. We looked at each other in wild amusement at what had just happened; when she came back, Molly asked for a particular meal item that happened to be out of stock that day. When the waitress huffed again, I said “excuse me, are we wasting your time? Because that’s what it feels like, and if you don’t mind, my friend would like a little bit more of your time so she can find something that actually is on your menu.” The waitress’s glossy lips dropped open and she began to apologize profusely. When she returned, she returned with a smile and, although fake, it was far more pleasant than her huffs.
We left The Coffee Shop full and happy at 4am. Although I had just been shunned by AJ, I realized that I had some spectacular friends, and I couldn’t wait for our next adventure.