I was going to finally leave New York. I had plans. They were vague. But I had wanderlust in the most, maybe ridiculous way. I planned to just leave and stop somewhere. If it felt good, I planned to get a job.
I had been building my repertoire of skills I could do in Anytown, USA-- wait tables, bartend, type, answer phones, assist people with other jobs, try any skilled labor. I thought I would move on when I felt like it. A visitor everywhere and anywhere. Just get in my car, which I did not currently own, and go. In fact, I did not even have a driver's license. But it was part of my plan. If I planned to leave with a car then I would force myself to get a driver's license AND a car!
I told people I was expanding on my slow move out West, since I was living in Jersey City, having finally made it just over the Hudson to the cheapest "borough of Manhattan." And in the back of my mind I felt a nagging, there was something or someone that would make me want to stay.
Mara asked to meet her at a party one autumn Friday night. She was from Russia and emigrated at age 17 with her family, finishing high school in the US with many other émigrés about the same time and age, their families forming community and connections to support each other in this new country. So the party was a kind of reunion, everyone around age 30 now. It went down in my history as the The Russian Party. I must say that it was one of the least friendly fun parties I have ever been to. I wasn't supposed to be there. I was not Russian, I did not speak Russian and I had never been to Russia. The only thing that was remotely fun about the party was free vodka and Russian chocolates made in Brooklyn. We collected the chocolates and I drank while Mara chatted with old boyfriends. I finally told her I needed to go because I couldn't speak to anyone. Seeing her moral support about to leave, she ran outside with me, the night had just begun....