I remember arriving just after Jay was cleared of cancer, he was the only one who helped me move in and he also had just cost me $50 off my security deposit from my Saratoga Springs apartment. His little joke was to open a condom and throw it at me, it was night, we never picked it up thus the landlords dinged my roommate and me for $100. Despite being emaciated from just having cancer he sort of owed me the move in and he delivered. Then he left and I was alone. Real alone.
It’s a strange feeling to be so alone and yet so close to home. The laundry drive was 45-50 minutes yet I was in a city where I knew absolutely nobody. I had no job nor did I have a prospective job, no interviews, nothing, just the money in my pocket, which was less than $50. I promptly bought about $50 worth of cigarettes and went out hunting for a job.
When you just spent your last money on smokes you really need to get a job before you waste any of your gas, so I walked. Luckily there was a Vietnamese restaurant just down the street, they hired me to wait tables and I was off and running.
Weirdest application for a restaurant ever! I rarely brought home more than $75 on a given night yet the interview was over an hour and featured questions like 'what's more important the ends or the means.' While I don't remember my answer I do recall thinking 'this is fucking stupid.'
My friends quickly became the people I worked with. Susan (whose mother and sister owned the restaurant) and her boyfriend, Justin, also waited tables. He was in school to become a massage therapist at the time and she was just trying to figure shit out, she and I were both 23, he was about 27.
Then there was Courtney, she was in law school and she was the only republican of the group, which stands to reason as she was in law school and the rest of us were pot heads. She definitely had a crush on me (at times) but she wasn’t my type (in fact she was a republican…remember) so I walked a fine line with her – always trying to remain buddies.
Lastly there was BK, she was in her late 30’s and a real estate agent by day, and a waitress by night, mostly because she didn’t seem to be succeeding during normal business hours, but she was fucking rad as shit. There were others who worked there but these four were the ones I liked. So they were quickly adopted as my only friends in town.
The next best way to make friends was the bar. So I would go and sit at this bar called Suzy’s, a sleepy little dive that rested between the only two trendy bars in town. Albany has a downtown area with “clubs” and an uptown area where the University of Albany kids drink. Then there are the bars in between, one street, probably 5-8 bars, 2 of which were considered “cool” and I went to the sleepiest bar, with older (considerably dirtier) cliental. Not dirty because they were hipsters but dirty because they were “salt of the earth” types of people who claim Springstein songs are about their lives. The bartender/owner/namesake would play cards with me and open a Miller High Life for me as soon as I walked in, which I would drink, regardless of what I wanted.
The last yelp review was so long ago at Suzie's...I sure hope all is well, she was a sweet woman. If Albany had cooler people, I think they'd hang out here.
All told though, I don’t remember my first year of living in Albany for the things that happened to me outside of my apartment. Those times were fillers. I was alone as fuck and I lived that way. I was sad, horribly sad…and not just some of the time. Maybe I wasn’t really ready to be alone but I learned more that year than any year prior. It was the start of a transition that has brought me to the point where I am today and it was an extremely formative time.
Eventually I would start dating a girl, right about the end of my first year, and that would take me off course, but when that relationship ended I would soon after find myself in Los Angeles right back onto the slow track that has brought me to this point in my life. I have several different journals that spell out this first year, several albums that bring back the emotions of that year, but all I really need to do is stop and think about it for a minute and it all comes back to me.
It was sort of the year I became an adult, even though I’m pretty sure I wasn't doing it right.