Leaving Los Angeles, I got a few tips on surviving New York during the holidays. I was told:

1. I’d need heavy clothes. An enormous coat I didn’t own. Lots and lots of layers and sweaters and basically I’d need to go buy a new wardrobe and a huge suitcase to put it all in.
2. I shouldn’t wear earrings because it would be so cold that the bars in my earlobes would freeze and hurt.
3. I was going to need to wear long underwear, and I needed boots that could survive getting soaked and I’d need to buy those boots and gloves and sweaters and did anyone mention the huge coat?
4. There was going to be a subway strike, and I’d be stranded and alone.

Now. I’m here. My long underwear is still in its package, in a drawer. I’ve been here for three days now, and I want to thank New York for being quite lovely. I’m even wearing earrings.

I’m doing this trip by myself, and it’s giving me the very unique opportunity to find out what it’d be like if I were a New Yorker. If I had a completely different life, on the other side of the country, with an income I don’t really have, what would my day-to-day life be like?

It’s true that I’ve never had an accurate representation of New York. Every time I’ve been here I’ve been treated like some kind of rockstar due to the perks of my fantastic friends, whether it’s staying at the Mercer, or right now, where I have a Midtown studio apartment to myself.

Seriously. I’m thankful every day. Don’t think for a second I don’t know how awesome this is.

So New York Pam. She’s fun. She’s up for adventure. She’s got a little bit of cash and isn’t afraid to take a subway.

She’s going to kill me. LA Pam does not know how to handle New York Pam. LA Pam wants New York Pam to take a fucking nap.

stee had told me how New York is very romantic. At the time I only knew being here when it’s humid and sweaty and everybody’s exhausted and everyone is running late. People told me that coming here during the holiday would warm my “cold, black heart.” That it would make me believe in the spirit of Christmas. Or at the very least, a week in New York, by myself, was going to teach me something about the real me.

Take yesterday. Woke up late because we stayed up late the night before. We showered and wandered in search of coffee. There are about three hundred and twelve Starbucks shops in a one-block radius from the apartment. We walked and walked. Ate a hot dog from a vendor (All Bosie wanted to do. My first trip to NYC? It was all I wanted to do then, too. Funny how we’re similar in ways we’d never be able to guess). Went shopping without buying anything. Watched my sister buy a Cate Spayde Purse, as I spent half the time lecturing her on why she shouldn’t buy black market items and the other half getting her to haggle the price down another five bucks.

Eventually I put her on her train home and waved goodbye. Blew each other kisses. I walked to another Starbucks, listening to my iPod. It was clear within minutes that the iPod was invented for people who live in New York.

Checked my email and waited at Starbucks until Dan arrived.

He hugs me. “New York Pam! She’s the same, but she’s different!”
“She’s on Eastern time!”
“She’s New York Pam!”

I show him my apartment. I think Dan equally hates and loves the rockstar treatment I tend to find myself in when I’m in New York. We watch the view. We make phone calls and plans. I walk him to his train.

I find Chinese take-out and carry it back to my apartment. I stop at the market for some beer.

I sit on the floor of the apartment, eating chinese food, drinking beer, watching “Breaking Away.” Everything was perfect, except for the movie (which one of you recommended that to me? I feel like it was one of you Kamenetzky brothers, with your sports. I feel like it was the same night AK and I named my next novel. Look, I listened to all your Rolling Stones songs, AK. I have learned not to hate all of their songs. I trust your opinion and think you’re a great person. But I do not like your Italian cycling movies.)

I take a nap. I wake up at nine, get ready and head to a bar to see Chad and Jeff.

[scripty]
Bartender
Girl in the red coat, what can I get you?

Pam
Uh, grey goose martini?

Bartender
You look so festive, in your red, with your little hat and your gloves.

Pam
Oh. Everybody said I’d be the only person in New York with a red coat.

Bartender
It’s true. You look like Christmas, with your face all red and your coat.

Pam
My other coat is kind of a camel color.

Bartender
… okay. Oh, no. The only Grey Goose we have is vanilla flavored.

Pam
Eee. How about red wine, then?

Bartender
We have… this crap red. We’ve fallen a long way from the Grey Goose martini.

Pam
I feel like it was a sign that you were out of Grey Goose. Something’s telling me it’ll be a long night, and I should drink something I can have more than one of.

Bartender
God’s looking out for your hangover.

Pam
Something like that.
[/scripty]

We order Polish food at one in the morning. More drinking. The bartender gives us free rounds. The bar closes. We get more food. Someone throws a ketchup bottle in anger as he leaves the diner. The bottle shatters at our feet. Time to go.

When I get home it is six in the morning.

What?

The phone rings at ten. I’m confused. It’s Chris.

“I totally work right where you are.”
“Okay, yes. Awesome. Hi. Hello.”
“So do you want to get lunch?”
“Right.”
“At one?”
“…today?”
“Um… yeah?”
“Yes. Oh, yes. Okay. Monday. Got it. Awesome.”

I am determined to still go for a run because sometime on Sunday I saw people running on the street below my building, running past all the UN flags. How very New York and wintery? How lovely, festive, and holidaylicious.

I put on running pants. Long sleeves. T-shirt on top. Forerunner on my wrist and an ipod.

And people. I go outside like that.

What is wrong with me? It’s freezing. I’m running alongside water, on a busy street. I’m running faster and faster, because I’m freezing. People are staring. I push myself to keep going. I run for forty minutes and come back inside, collapsing.

[scripty]
stee
You went running?

pam
Yeah.

stee
On the street?

pam
Yes.

stee
No.

pam
It wasn’t that bad. Although I don’t feel good now. My lungs hurt.

stee
Yeah, I bet. Were people looking at you funny?

pam
Yes.

stee
You’re supposed to go to Central Park and run.

pam
Where’s that?

stee
Kinda far.

pam
I’d have to take a subway to go running?

stee
You could run there. But once you got there, you’d probably want to run back.

pam
That makes no sense.

stee
You should still do it, while you’re out there. Because you want to.
[/scripty]

I call Dan.

[scripty]
dan
Well, I’m very proud of you for trying to be New York Pam so hardcore. But are you okay?

pam
My lungs hurt.

dan
Because you inhaled exhaust for an hour. But bravo to you. You wanted to do it, and you did it.

pam
I don’t feel good.

dan
Perhaps because you got home at six? Just a guess.

pam
People were looking at me funny. Stee says people don’t run on the street.

dan
That was probably more from the lack of clothes, than the fact that you were running. They run, but not really where you are.

pam
Whatever. I did it. I won’t do that again.

dan
No. I wouldn’t. But you did it.
[/scripty]

I have lunch with Chris. I’ve known him for years and years, but the hour we just spent together eating sandwiches is the most time we’ve ever spent together in our lives. I don’t know how this is true, but it is. We pack hours of conversation into sixty minutes. I know him more from his writing, from stories from his friends, than I know from us talking. It’s a weird way to know someone. We are acquaintances who have intimate knowledge of each other’s personal lives from the stories we tell in public forums.

[scripty]
Chris
I was standing out here waiting for you, looking for you, trying to figure out what you’d be wearing. And then I thought, ‘This girl from LA is not going to be walking around with a black New York coat.” You did not let me down with your little hat and this festive scarf and your tan jacket.

Pam
And look at the ivory knit gloves, like I think they’ll stay all clean and white.

Chris
You really stand out.

Pam
That’s what I’ve been told.
[/scripty]

Jeff leaves a message.

“Pam. Listen to my voice. Listen to me! What is wrong with us? Oh, my God. We are not twenty. We are not twenty, Pam. I can’t… how did we… ow. Call me back.”

[scripty]
pam
Hi.

jeff
Ow.

pam
Yeah.

jeff
What?

pam
I think I drank an entire bottle of wine.

jeff
I don’t do that. Do you know I go to sleep at 10:30? I’m a 10:30 sleeper kind of guy.

pam
Not any time I’ve ever seen you.

jeff
The problem is we can’t just see each other once a year. We don’t want to leave each other’s side, and we end up eating disco fries at five in the morning.

pam
I had three dinners last night. Three.

jeff
I had an entire bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

pam
I got home today.

jeff
Ow.

pam
And then I went for a run.

jeff
Pamela! You could have died.

pam
I did. I’m dead. Right now.

jeff
Seriously. You were so dehydrated. You could have died.

pam
I can’t complete sentences. I just had lunch with Chris, and I sounded like a moron.

jeff
I’m sure you were fine.

pam
I spazzed. Luckily he’s actually a rockstar, so it’s okay. But at a certain point I think I was telling him three sentences at once.

jeff
I am hurting.

pam
I am going to drink even more coffee and sit at my computer until I have the ability to type again.

jeff
Don’t work too hard.

pam
Ow.
[/scripty]

That’s twenty-four hours with New York Pam. Right now she’s about to figure out a subway and meet some people for dinner. She’s been at a Starbucks for three hours. That’s LA Pam, who really wants to whip New York Pam into shape.

New York Pam writes on napkins in a bar at two in the morning. Things like, “Jeff, we’ve come here every time I’m in New York. Why do you pretend we’re going to go anywhere else?” “Pam. Don’t use that tone of voice with me. You’re making it sound like a bad thing that we always come here. Don’t you see? Now we have a TRADITION.”

But I see the romance of New York. I see where it’d be nice to have someone next to me as I walk the streets, late at night when it’s dark and cold, and we’re maybe just starting to get to know each other. We decide to stop walking and hail a cab, and head somewhere together, anywhere together, because the night can constantly be young in New York. Everything is about to happen. Everyone’s busy and nobody really cares who you are or what you’re doing as long as you stay out of the way and pay attention to your own thing. You can be alone, or you can let someone in. It’s your choice.

That being said, it’s very strange to be here without stee. It makes me look at New York like it was for him when he lived here, when he was figuring out the kind of guy he wanted to be. I can see him in the boys riding subways, in the guys at the bar who are planning their night.

“Hands up, everybody who’s been to jail.”
“Okay, now if it was a Japanese jail, keep your hands up.”
“You win, dude.”

Everybody’s moving so quickly, that when you reach out and grab someone’s hand and force him or her to look up, it’s a real moment. It’s the ability to make time stop and two people can stay out until the morning and have no idea they’ve been talking all night.

Yesterday I got home today. New York Pam might be damaging LA Pam’s liver, but she’s making the most out of her few days here. So I’ll let her run the show a little longer.

But oh, Berkeley Pam. How you will be welcomed back with open arms. Berkeley Pam gets lots of sleep.

(Did I just write about myself in third person? See? New York Pam’s pretty fucking annoying.)