I was lying on a beach in Aruba, mulling a third pina colada, when I received a phone call announcing I’d been laid off from my job. The call came, ironically, on my company cell phone. I’d brought it with me to the beach in case something came up at work.
Something came up.
“Meet me at Route 2 and Darby Lane by the blue mailbox. I can’t be with my family anymore. I’ll be there waiting for you. Please take me away with you.”
Sometimes at night I lie awake for hours beside my baby daughter, Ava, cupping her head in my hand. Maybe I am imagining, but sometimes I swear I can feel it: I can feel her dreaming. The sensation upon my fingers is less than a vibration but more than stillness. A something-in-between-nothing-and-something, vague but true. I imagine I can feel my daughter’s mind becoming.
In Manhattan, even at 5 a.m., it’s easy to find someone to talk to if you can’t sleep. There’s an entire network of actors, writers, bartenders, prostitutes and drug dealers hanging out in after-hours bars and clubs across the city, waiting for the transition from vodka and cocaine to orange juice, pancakes and eggs. Somewhere in East Village, guys with names like Edgardo and Leon sell coke to kids who snort it in unisex bathrooms. In a theatre in Times Square, hustlers called Cody and Shane rush into cabs and limos and back to bedrooms and hotel rooms for $150 private shows. At a bar on the Upper East Side, two women laugh loudly — or is the one adjusting her skirt a man?
Michael was standing beside me —- I was about 8, he was barely 4 —- with his elbows on the sill and his chin resting in his hands. We were looking into the dark from our bedroom window as the snow fell on Christmas Eve, leaving us both in awe. It was coming down so thick and fast that our neighborhood seemed beneath some heavenly pillow fight, each floating feather captured in the clear haze of one streetlight.
I was nine years old when I began to suspect that my father was a gangster.
“You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you. In China your father had a sister who killed herself. She jumped into the family well. We say your father has all brothers because it is as if she had never been born.”
The first mortar round landed as the sun was rising.
I never slept with the president. I did sleep with the former president. In fact, I slept with three of them, all at once, on Air Force One. Actually, it was more like a slumber party, which sounds even more bizarre.