With Illustrations by Brady Drose



July 5th 2012


The actualisation of a one way ticket, a glimpse of a dream at 30,000ft and a revolution of personal space have made New York my home.

This journey is not to be confused for a quick trip, or even an extended stay with friends. There is no immediate safety net or hark to imploi back to the fortress of comfort and the contained. Home.  My home is Alphabet City now, where I stay with love.

As the sun, smoldering and wet, makes my skin revert back to it’s russet origins, I can feel the rise of a new east and the setting of hearts back west. With maybe somewhere to go and possibly nowhere to be, one is easily and readily able to be themselves and therefore free.


With a sovereign step and a runway pace, I sauntered along the Hudson River to Harlem, down to the famed streets and cobbles who boom and bore witness to change in The Village. When the fireball met its match in the sky, enveloped I became, by the circular chain of events that is Washington Square Park, going unnoticed by many and discreet to all.

We blend in to stay relevant. We stand out to stay New Yorkers. Each of us, sharing the dreams of the isle and her surrounding corner pockets. All for one and one for eight million, trying to keep it up and never stopping the train. We are the ones who herd the sheep.  While hopping on and briskly going by we merge our lives and never touch. We are as nonchalant and endowed to the bounty of this famed colony, as the names that flaunt its corners and side hustles.

New York, you hella go.


July 30th, 2012

Dear Journal,

Ok so let’s go ahead and fast forward a couple weeks cuz New York is f***ing amazing. And also hella deep.

 Since we last spoke I have trained for a job at the French/Creole Resto on Ave C, Arcane, and landed a job with Think Productions as a PR/Brand Consultant for their ‘Think Thin’ products, which to me definitely sounds like I will be passing out hella health bars in popular tourist traps. But at $21.50 an hour, I will do it, Amen! Buying that one-way ticket  was by far the best idea I have had since buying that one-way ticket to France. This first month has been all of the ups I knew it would be, and even the downs one would expect. I see it all as part of the necessary struggle. So embrace it I must as it is either that, or perish into the streams of gutters and lost dreamers who live to tell no more tales under midnight lamplight. I seek the night and turn her quarrels into the paying of dues. Always joyous after, having tackled another mountain on this rock with cinematic gestures and iPod symphonies. Last night though, was mos def not that. Last night was a hot ass mess. Undoubtedly shameful, but in ways that must certainly (hopefully) have to be-somewhat-somewhere-kinda-normal. Regardless, it is definitely a story worth telling, as most of my life is.


Since I arrived on the 4th of July in the literal intent of my own independence,

I have spent just about every day writing poetry on firescapes and rooftops, or walking for miles with an inspired absolution to nowhere. It all takes place below 14th street, between Ave C and the Hudson. When I do travel north aside from work, it is to be with my darling Dani. After Northwestern she moved to Harlem, near the 135th stop off the C or the A at 125th. I will take any and all opportunity to see Dani. And I totally have since I was twelve and we have not lived in the same city since high school. My trips from L.A. to N.Y. for Fashion Week over the past few years were cool, but now I live here so there was no - ‘ahh I have to leave and I really do not want to’. Now we could really fuck shit up. Most of which honestly just involves aimless walking with a spliff rolled and ready or smoking on Harlem stoops in the mid-summer nights humidity. When she does venture downtown there's always dancing.

Not the cute American Bandstand- top 40’s doing hella shit of vodka and red bull. I mean sweat fueled - feet hurt and you do not care - play that funky music white boy - where am I? - fuck it! -  I don’t care - what is that and can I touch it?- please don't stop the music type shit.

These specific nights with Dani usually take place in the company of Papí, her 65-/+ year old Cuban drug dealer boyfriend. I know. I can't even. It's fine. She’s happy and he’s got a monster cock. I've totally seen it. True Story.

While my days spent with Dani are always amazing, this past weekend I decided to venture out on my own. Living in the Lower East Side has its perks which tend to air on the downsides depending on when you were born and the status of your checking account. But that is New York!


I sat on the fire escape outside my window above the corner of 4th Street and Ave Band just watched the tops of heads and shoulders sway in the nighttime waves.

IT was around one in the morning when I actually built up the courage to dress appropriately slutty and head out.

I had no real destination in mind  I just wanted to be in it and of it at the same time. Being an avid yet discreet reader of Butt Magazine, I pulled up their gay maps and discovered that I was two blocks and between the same Avenue from a landmark gay spot: Eastern Bloc. It had five out of five stars on Yelp which could either have meant something really bomb or hella intense. It was the very first gay establishment that I  had gone to-alone. I do not count the bars and clubs in Europe even though it was definitely the gayest thing I have ever seen aside from actual anal penetration or guys in bright yellow sweaters with Robert Kennedy hair.

When I got to my destination I let my cigarette linger a bit and eavesdropped on the few that were doing the same. NYU undergrads with fake IDs and the graduate students ready to pounce on those still within the framework of their own post adolescent idealistic phase, all in deep yet nonsensical conversations or just drunk. I flicked my cigarette and grabbed for my wallet to show the drag queen bouncer my ID. "Oh we got a Cali boy?" She exclaimed after checking said ID. "Born and raised," I said with the drawl of a son to a Southern drill Sergeant. An inflection of speech I thought was odd in the moment and still find a little peculiar in retrospect. Whatever, blame it on nerves.

It was a night of premieres; first time at a gay club alone and my first time talking to a drag queen. I stepped inside and pulled back the red velvet curtains to hear Britney's Toxic playing at full throttle and knew I was home. A large glass bowl full of condoms with NYC written in rainbow and shiny silver packets of lubricant placed directly at the entry gave me the notion that this must be the gay-normal. "Well this all makes sense," I said to myself while making a lap before I committed to a location.

I made my way through the half-naked pool of pristine white men thrusting, bearded white men gazing, and flamboyant white men embodying white women acting like black women. I was left to post up at the bar with everyone else who was not America’s depiction of male perfection. I arched my back with arms stretched on the sticky wood surface and one foot popped to the toe on the saturated floor. I was determined to flair an interest with my 26" waist peeking out from beneath the slightly cropped concert tee from 1977 and these dazzling eyes of mine.

Unfortunately for me, this was the one place I stuck out in ways I did not realize worked against me. I was soon reminded why I do not frequent gay clubs and bars. I like standing out. I always have, and whereas before I resented the idea, the more I came into my own I reveled in the fact. The night was young as was I and I only lived two blocks away, so why not just move and groove a bit and call it a night?

I danced in the dark corners to the usual gaggle of gay heroines and studio '54 B sides. I attempted to use the bathroom for actual depository purposes and to no avail I decided it was time to go.


I walked home still feeling good about myself and considered the night a job well done. I tried! Right?

Back at home, after a few joints on the fire escape, a video or six courtesy of Youporngay.com and your average early twenties hormones I was enthralled to change my outfit, grab my shoes and say fuck it out loud. I left my Lower East Side apartment for the second time that night around three am and walked back to Eastern Bloc. I did not have much of a plan, other than to turn the slut bag whore meter up to 10 as I have been living at a 4. When I approached the door once I was granted entry without  having to show ID, something that made me feel cool around those that did not know I had just left. When I walked in this time, the energy was different and the atmosphere unparalleled to before. There were far less half naked bodies, no go-go boys, minimal bar patrons, and the music selections had slipped into what sounded like the credit reel for Clueless. Sitting beside the lonesome stripper pole to my left was a guy who would much later become the title character of this story. His head moved to the music, not with feverish intent but more so unconscious drunken jolts to which the neck seemed to move at a different beat.

I sat next to him and cannot recall how long it took to go from a “Hey!” to “Okay cool now your tongue is in my mouth”

He was far more drunk than I, a fact that remained unknown to him through the next few hours. I was barely drunk, mostly tipsy, and extremely high per usual. One thing that we certainly had in common was the high level of libido. Not long we were in a cab with his best friend headed into Brooklyn. As we crossed the bridge I thought to myself, "Self-what in the hell? You could be at home watching True Blood  with a nice joint in a warm bed not giving a solid fuck or an intangible damn about anyone," but I gripped his hand a little tighter and stroked from knee to thigh like I possessed all the care in his world. Having the best friend in the car was weird. I felt really transparent and vulnerable.


i paused and thought, “Self - what would you think of this situation?”

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Even though the guy I was most certainly going to fuck could not see past my salutations and thirsty ass intent the best friend could.This reality was heightened as I kept one eye open, on the front seat bestie.

I came to the realization that either way I was headed to an apartment that I did not know, with a guy I did not know. And the ability to tell whatever story would come from that was enough to curb any further guilt or self slut-shame. When the best friend left the cab, he and I made out a little in the backseat just to ensure that both of us were down for the ticket to ride.

We had already made it this far and the cab ride make out sesh was just a resting tip on a larger tab awaiting to be settled in full. We attempted a light and sexy conversation (whatever that is) and made sure to keep the touching in constant reprise. When we pulled up at his building I gestured toward my back pocket as he paid for the cab really slowly. If I had really wanted to I could have swiped my card got out and opened the door for him before he pushed the cash or credit button.

When I entered his apartment I remember my first thought being, "Damn, this is way bigger than my place...fuck I need to move to Brooklyn," then hastily redacting said statement. Regarding the move, not the square footage of course. We walked down the long hallway and passed what felt like four bedrooms on either side landing in kitchen where we took off our shoes and jackets. I could spot a bathroom to my right and his room to the left so I took my cut to freshen up. I never really know how to prepare for gay sex although deductive reasoning had me with the faucet on and two wet fingers in my ass making sure there was no residual cast off. I did not have my man bag full of tricks, scents and antibacterials, so I had to make do.

When I walked into his bedroom he was still in the throws of getting his clothes off. He kind of stood there for a while, with his back to me, as if I was not there. I got naked before he could finish taking off his clothes and hopped into his bed. I snuggled into his white sheets on the California king size mattress and could have fallen asleep within minutes. I was aroused at the sight of him stretching across the bed in little white briefs to close the curtains.


He stayed on his knees and I met him there like a mirror image in front of the glass that peaked from the white fabric separating the street lights from us. I took his head in my hand and kissed him in full sobriety and theatrical passion. He groped for my waist and slid his hands under the band of my underwear, pulling them down as far as his reach would go in that position. I kept my hands on his face while he took my dick in his hand and started to stroke. I widened my knees and pushed him back to where his head fell to the foot of the bed, legs displaced beside my ready foundation. His arms hung over the sides and gestured back and forth like he was making snow angels and my tongue was the reason for the heavenly connection. I did not want him to cum so I could not do too-too much. Lord knows I could have ended his life if I wanted to, but I held my peace, and gave him enough to which reciprocity was imminent.

As the rising lavender in the sky made plum shapes of our bodies through the peaking window…

He like, tried to suck my dick. And I say that generously. I could not help but notice the slurping noises he made and how “performance art,” he made it out to be. It was one thing when I tried to make each slide and pull feel theatrical in its perfection to the invisible frame but it's another when someone else does it. That's selfish I know, but only because I was good at it and he not so much. It felt blatantly contrived , or maybe just candidly drunk. I made him stop. If anyone was going to turn this night into an episode of HBO’s Real Sex’98 it was going to be me. I grabbed his chin while his lips puckered the side of my shaft and rose his face to mine. I took the taste of mine own member from his mouth and traced my tongue around his lips. While doing so I stroked his cock with one hand. Not too generously as I did not want to give him the impression that I was accustomed to much more. I have not been with many guys yet, but being a guy myself I knew that no one wants to feel like the guy before the moment in hand was bigger. It was harsh enough that I was the larger dick in the room and the last thing I wanted was insecurity making everything limp and unflattered. I do not know when or how a gay guy chooses his role in the system of intercourse. I assumed since I was skinny, dressed well, and smiled a lot that I was a bottom. I’m still learning positions and tactics for proper entry, but I was feeling adventurous so I laid him on his back and inserted him from above. Classic cowboy style. We did not use any lube. Surprisingly, my butthole felt pretty lubed up upon entry.

The sex itself was fine. Nothing crazy and nothing mediocre. It was exactly what it should have been in those circumstances. I considered all of this new territory as I remained oddly juvenile with an  “any ole’ thing,” will do type attitude. He fucked me in a couple positions that were manageable. I enjoyed it most when I was on top. He was not fucking my insides up like a Ying Yang song so there was very little to complain about. I think he came inside of me. I could not tell. My ass felt wet and saturated and my growing experience had lead me to understand that unlike conventional hetero love making, gay sex has a lot of bodily fluids that mix and jingle so it could have been anything.

Anything, it was not.

Somewhere in the throws of intoxicated fornication we must have opened the blinds to their full potential as to let the sun cascade its rising light upon us. A gesture that only gave way to what appeared to be a murder scene-if shit could bleed.

As he lay head down in the pillow I was greeted with the morbid reality that I had unknowingly spilled my fecal contents all over his bed. It looked like a giant had used his entire mattress as toilet tissue after eating an entire tray of enchiladas with extra queso. There were no chunks of leftovers or anything heinous like that, just smears of waste here, there and every fucking where. I did not know what to do. What was I supposed to do? I checked my ass to see if it was still leaking and aside from a few smudges on my thighs and butt cheeks, nothing. I looked at him, and his hands were a little affected, and I’m sure if I could have seen the front half of his body he would have looked like the murderer.

I was so flustered and stupefied I kind of just sat there. After feverishly rinsing myself off.

I tried to remove the sheet, but with him still sleeping on his portion of the night it was an impossible feat. So, I did what any self defecating gayby does in that sitch-I got dressed and got the fuck out. I had just moved to New York, so knowing which way a train station was or which line to take was not an option. I could however see Manhattan with my own eyes and so I figured walking in that direction was my best bet. When I spotted a station I rejoiced and scrammed underground for shelter. It was not until I reached into my denim shorts that I realized my wallet and keys were still in the back pocket of the first outfit I wore that night. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I was still alive, I had all my fingers and toes, and more importantly, my cell phone.

That morning I watched the sun rise to completion as I strolled along the Williamsburg bridge wearing a canadian tuxedo and the remorse of what I had left behind. With Brooklyn at my back and my new home of the Lower East Side in vantage I could not even remember his name and I desperately hoped he felt the same.


Back to Manhattan by Nora Jones