I don't think I was afraid until I was alone in the apartment that night, and the sirens started going. They didn't just start and stop, they went on forever, as if the ambulances just drove around the block with their sirens on. I looked out the window to see what was happening, expecting some kind of hysteria, but people on the streets seemed very calm. The window overlooked the intersection of two big streets, and you could look out it like watching a television, there was so much happening. I couldn't sleep and stayed up for hours, watching yellow streams of taxis driving around, their lights lit, like they were looking for friends. There were so many people on the streets, after midnight, and none of them knew me. In Rockford, there were fewer people but none of them liked me and none of them knew me, either, except as the only guy in fashion school at my college.
I wasn't supposed to be alone in New York. I had two friends there, my friend Simon and his girlfriend, and they were supposed to show me around for a few days before they went to Europe and I housesat their apartment. They were the same people who found me a summer internship in the garment district. We had it all arranged, except I was late because my brother broke two of his girlfriend's fingers and she pressed charges this time and my mother wanted me to stay and talk to the lawyer. So I came to New York by myself.
I can remember everything about that first flight, everything I saw or felt. Right after one o'clock, I was drowsy and did go to bed, and as I was drifting off I thought about the bus ride from the airport, and about New York City. I thought about all the glamorous nightspots, and how I could just get into a taxi and ask to be taken to them, and who I would meet there. But I was also afraid the taxis might drive me around and around, between the sirens, and not let me out and never bring me home.