Issue 35, Final Fringe

When I Lived in Manhattan...

by Sarah Einstein Issue 35 06.24.2013

When I lived in Manhattan, we sat in East Side bars full of books and leather, smoking cigars and drinking Cosmopolitans. We wore our pearls without irony, our hair down long and straight, and our heels high.

When I lived in Manhattan, my mother used to say, “Don’t come back to West Virginia and tell us how much better everything is in Manhattan because we don’t want to hear about it.”

When I lived in Manhattan, Salman Rushdie was our Jay McInerney and we quoted his Fury like teenagers in love quoting song lyrics. The city boiled with money and the talk was still of start-ups, IPOs, interactivity, the unimaginable future that had just begun to begin. We carried worn copies of the paperback in our messenger bags and dog-eared the pages that told us we were changing the world.

When I lived in Manhattan, Joey Ramone wrote a song to Maria Bartiromo and, somehow, punk didn’t die. Although, shortly thereafter, Joey did.

When I lived in Manhattan, people began living with—rather than dying from–AIDS.

When I lived in Manhattan, I would scour the Green Market for fiddlehead ferns, morels, and ramps in early Spring, cook them up in omelets for my lovers, and talk about how they tasted of home. I’d never actually eaten any of those things until I moved to Manhattan. In West Virginia, we ate our vegetables out of the can.

When I lived in Manhattan, the macaroni and cheese at Chat n Chew was all the rage.

When I lived in Manhattan, Patti Smith was everybody’s godmother.

When I lived in Manhattan, the hippest lesbians hung out at Meow Mix in the East Village. It was grungy and boho and all the girls were both younger and cooler than I could have pretended to be, so instead I tried The Cowgirl Hall of Fame where all the lesbians were already married to each other and just stopping by for hamburgers on their way to Lamaze class, so I moved on to the Clit Club at Mother where the drag kings all looked like Elvis and the only person who ever hit on me was a very drunk drag queen who seemed to think I came as a package deal with the attractive young man sitting beside me at the bar. I didn’t know that attractive young man so I didn’t really have anything to offer my suitor but at closing time we took ourselves to the Kiev for a consolation breakfast anyway. We became running buddies— hanging out at clubs like Save the Robots and The Limelight—until the night she met the man of her dreams in the bathroom at Candybar, changed into chinos, and moved with him to Brooklyn.

When I lived in Manhattan, most of my lovers were men.

When I lived in Manhattan, the skyline was still intact.

When I lived in Manhattan, certain folk back home said it was about time I moved to Jew York.

When I lived in Manhattan, I used to run across a B-list actress–an older woman who played mostly slightly dopey grandmothers–at the grocery store. In her cart, she would have laundry soap and ground beef and bags of apples and toilet paper and cans of tuna and boxes of pasta and the same brand of shampoo that was supposed to tame frizzy hair that I had in mine. We’d smile and nod if we passed in the aisles. On the rare occasion we’d pass on the street, we just kept walking.

When I lived in Manhattan, everyone liked to tell this joke: In a flat, Midwestern drawl, “They ought to build an island and put all you queers on it.” In voice full of joie de vivre, “They did, sweetie, and you’re standing on it!”

continue: 1 2

Sarah Einstein

Sarah Einstein

Read More

Sarah Einstein is a PhD candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Ohio University and the Managing Editor of Brevity. Her work has appeared in journals such as PANK and Ninth Letter, but mostly in Fringe. Fringe published her first essay (Fearsome Beauty), her most difficult essay (Dick Move), and the one piece of which she is unabashedly proud (Self Portrait in Apologies). In fact, fully one quarter of her published work first appeared in this journal. When Fringe goes dark after this issue, will she still be a writer? She isn’t sure. She’s come to depend on Lizzie Stark and Llalan Fowler for their support of her work and their unfailing editorial instincts; everything she has sent to them has been improved by their feedback before it appeared in the journal. She wishes them well as they move on to the next things in their lives, but she also wants to fling her arms around their necks and cry please don’t leave me until they agree not to go. Fringe has been a solid platform for writers whose work doesn’t find its way into more mainstream journals often enough; voices saying complicated and important things. As a writer and a reader, Sarah is going to miss them very much. She wishes them all good things.