Jersey City


the first day was one hell of a challenge. to preface, i have been looking for signs from the universe to tell me that my decision to uproot my familiar, my routine, my comfort for an exciting, artistic, once­in­a­lifetime (perhaps not even?) adventure that has been in constant flux since conceived was a very bad decision. i’m not one for change; as a taurus, i like a solid ground to stand on. as a millenial, i like to have a steady pay check to pay my loans. as a former high school art teacher, i like to be in control of what is going to happen next. with this project, though, all of that certainty and security has gone out the window of a 75’ tour bus. but i asked the universe to give me a came to me on newark avenue in jersey city. as istrolled through “little india” from the PATH to mana contemporary, lauryn hill’s “lost ones” echoing in my ears, i thought how much i hated indian food. the smells of curry, the goopy sauces, the over­seasoning. i detest the picture menus. the discomfort of the cuisine led me on a stream of thoughts of how much i would not like to travel to india if these were my only food options. as i crossed the intersection, i was suddenly flooded with excitement at the prospect of a plaincroissant and a cold brew from mana’s cafe.

nji set down my stuff in the rented gallery space in the basement, greeted will with the phone attached to his ear, and motioned to him i was about to get some breakfast before set up. as i reached for my wallet in my pants’ pocket, i felt its absence. confused, i looked in my backpack to see if maybe i had been smarter than i thought and left it safe inside there. no dice. now panic ensued. i rifled through the entirety of my personal belongings to see if maybe­­just maybe, it was hiding in those hard­to­reach places. in between a notebook? underneath my pen case? inside my toiletry bag? nope. nope. nope. maybe i left it at the front desk when i signed in. i could tell, after seeing the sheer desperation on my face, the receptionist at the front desk had almost willed the appearance of my small black pleather wallet that contained every piece of identity that i could think of.

FUCK. i lost it. it’s gone forever. and come on, it’s jersey city, it’s not like you know the guy next door nor that you could probably just find it laying on the sidewalk if it had fallen out of your dumbass pocket. great. just in time for me to go on tour. is this the sign? was the universe telling me not to go? MUM! HELP!

Of course i called my mother. she is the only person who could talk me off a ledge that high. no­ it wasn’t a sign, she said. i was supposed to do this, i was supposed to learn to be HYPER aware. i was supposed to learn how to clean up this shitstorm.

in bank of america, looking like a wreck, i was in line to talk to the manager to get permission to receive a temporary card without proper identification. fuck. i don’t have an id. it’s ok i’ll figure it out. fuck. how the hell am i going to do this. and then i get a call from the receptionist at the high school i just quit.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”2″ down=”0″][blockquote text=”Sam! How’s the tour going? Are you in Jersey by any chance?”

“Uh, yes­ Jersey City, actually. Why­­ are you­­”

“Well! Am I going to make your day, or what!”

“Wha­­?” show_quote_icon=”yes”][vc_separator type=”transparent” position=”center” up=”3″ down=”0″][vc_column_text]

he told me that a Mr. Patel from Bengali Sweet House on newark ave found my wallet and probably called the school in Boston because maybe that was the only contact he could find. i shrieked over the low hum of the air conditioned white noise. I FOUND MY WALLET! I MEAN, MR. PATEL FOUND MY WALLET! i could tell the bank was happier that i left so that they could begin to clean the puddle of tears i had left for them in their waiting area. i quickly made my way to newark ave. i knew exactly where the place was. it was a block after hellbent’s mural, at the corner of tonnelle and newark, right at the site where i had my reflective, distasteful thoughts of indian cuisine.

i kissed the employee repeatedly and tried to convey the importance of this sweet (house) miracle. she put me on the phone with Mr. Patel himself. i couldn’t quite understand his words, but i could feel the empathy through the telephone lines. “Put your contact info in your wallet so people can reach you!” he said, and very fatherly, concluded, “and be safe!”

this was the sign i had been looking for. a stranger, a proprietor from a restaurant i had no desire to eat from, turned into a stand­in father, a friend, and another address in my collection to send postcards to. man i was lucky that day, and man do i need to check my shit all the time while i’m on the road. but not only did this experience teach me a lot, it also left me anew; i shed a layer of my former self, a former role, a former perspective, and i began this journey with a new set of eyes, and a firmer grasp on my participation in the environment around me.

i think i’m going to give indian food another shot.

Ciertamente con amor y paz,