thanks for the memories

Hotel Chelsea.

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She was easy to lie to. I don’t know why I did it, but I found myself lying to her a million times. It never phased me that it was wrong. The way I figured, I was protecting her from something.

I have learned that with people, if you tell a person everything, they will use everything against you. All your secrets, all your dreams, everything. I loved being secretive, being able to keep something for myself. She just never understood that, instead I was a liar. I defied everything she stood for. I led her to believe I was someone else, when I wasn’t. I did this to myself, this I know. I lied, I made myself into a different person for different people, and often forgot who I was. When you make a mockery of yourself, you become the caricature you create instead of yourself. Just a fragment of a person you’re suppose to be. With her I only gave her a fraction of who I was. I could never be myself around her and she was my best friend.

It had been years since we had actually been friends to each other. We were more like acquaintances that tolerated each other. We lied to each other constantly, that it felt like nothing at times. She could lie about everything, but no matter what I did, I was always the liar. I found myself distancing from her. Becoming my own person with my own life and voice. Maybe it was all the lies we told each other. Or maybe we were just finally growing apart from each other.

We had gone to New York before. We made up stories of living in different boroughs and meeting in the middle. Talking hours about our dreams and made up lives of the future. Childish dreams that never came true. Every time we stepped off the plane, we had different experiences. She craved this indie celebrity that came with the internet world, and I just wanted to be a complete nomad. I wanted to hide from the world underneath every skyscraper, write in a million notebooks from tiny hole-in-the-wall cafes. Anything to get away from the boring and mundane of my tiny hometown.

We may not have agreed about a lot of things, but the one thing we could agree on was New York, and The Hotel Chelsea.

My apartment in LA, held photos of my New York.
A New York she never knew.
A New York she never saw.
A New York that she had never seen with me.
Where we weren’t looking up 5 star reviews.
Where we weren’t seeing who ate where.
A New York that felt New York to me.

During a visit is when she asked me about those photos, I lied. Those photos weren’t mine. I had never been there, I could never go without her. When talks came about the Chelsea, as she held a photograph of the Hotel, I told her I had never been.

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I should have been honest. I should have said everything I felt at that very minute. I don’t know why I did that. As she stood there looking carefully at each photograph, I couldn’t help but continue this stream of lies. Something inside made me believe that had I told her, it would just break her heart into a million pieces. This fear of missing out before it became the moniker “FOMO”. We were suppose to do everything together. We were suppose to share our hopes and dreams, and here I was defying those thoughts.

For all she knew, The Hotel Chelsea was her thing. New York was her thing. Even if we shared the same hopes and dreams, it was always her ideas. Her wishes, her dreams, and everything I loved came in at second. She would speak enthusiastically about things I had already heard about. Films, I had seen a decade prior. Bands I had known about for years, songs I had heard weeks before she did. She would make these elaborate mixes of bands I had heard, and bands I had never heard of. Sometimes she would play songs I had heard weeks before she did. If I made a mention of liking any of the bands or any of the songs, she would complain that I copied her, that I was being her. All of the lying had made me into someone else.  I had lied to her multiple times that I didn’t have the heart to explain. Every thing was her thing. From the men she loved, to the people she obsessed over. If I spoke up about anything, I was her carbon copy. How could I, a person of my stature know these things? My character was making her believe what she wanted to believe.

I was ready to move on and grow up. To pack my bags and leave to bigger cities. To fall in love with people that I didn’t make up in my mind. But I waited for her. While she was afraid of being alone and paralyzed by self doubt, that she locked herself into her room and dreamed about life in a big city.

“New York could save me. The Chelsea will save me.” she’d say.

I couldn’t help but feel the same way too. As if she had taken the words out of my heart and spoke them out into the universe. This idea that a big frightening city could change everything. But all of it was just a dream, and reality was living in cities closer to home with people who made us feel at home.

I wasn’t allowed to go to the hotel without her, let alone New York City. It was an unspoken, unwritten word, among our friendship that we wouldn’t go without each other. I would watch the months go by and realize I was waiting for the dreams we shared to start. Start over as different people in a completely different city. I was waiting as the days came and went, as each year we toasted to the future. Every birthday card lined with false illusions of what our future would be. She was the star and I was the assistant. She pulled the stings and I made the things happen.

Still I waited.

I knew it was wrong. I was becoming the fraud, a mere caricature of myself.

The photographs scattered around the apartment were mine. Had she been someone else, I would have recounted all the stories. With her, I didn’t have the heart to tell her anything. That every inch of the hotel I wanted to keep for myself. That I still had tiny shampoo bottles hidden in my dresser drawers, underneath the ticket stubs of our scattered youth. I wanted to keep this New York for myself, my story. I have waited for my life to start that I couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted to keep that part of New York in my story. Keep every inch of the hotel for myself. It was just another lie, amongst all the other lies I’ve told. Lies about everything. Hide every inch of the hotel’s memory deep within the confines of my apartment. Even through the lies we couldn’t hide from our reality. The truth was we were growing up and growing apart, and neither of us had the guts to tell each other.

I was the liar. I was the carbon copy. Because someone like me, should never know the greatness of the Chelsea Hotel. I should have never grown up with stories of artists being inspired by that very hotel. A hotel so grand and majestic, with it’s ghosts trapped inside every inch, crack, and scratch. I never understood how lost I felt, until I walked the hallways of the Chelsea. How sitting on window sills, looking down at the lights of the city, made you crave warmth from people. How cold February nights made you wish for people that no longer existed. How being deep inside the bones of a hotel can play tricks on your mind and your soul.

She would never understand. How my needs of comfort and growth, could ever surpass her loneliness and self doubt.

I grabbed my camera and took photos of every inch of that hotel. The famous stairwell, the beautiful bohemian art, the beautiful architecture of the building, everything. I wanted more than just a mental memory. I wanted something to look back on. Something that was mine. A memory of sitting in an empty bath tub and crying over boys that break hearts and friendships that are going no where. This fear of growing up and being everything that I hated. Realizing that adulthood is frightening and sometimes, you have to fly halfway across from the familiar to find yourself.

I could never explain to her, how I slept with the big thick drapes of the hotel shut and wanted to breathe it all in. Breathe the hotel deep into my lungs and take a piece of that hotel everywhere I went. How haunted it felt in my soul, and how I left a part of myself in that hotel and still want it back. People are so afraid of missing out that they forget, we are all missing something too. Sometimes you need to fly across the country, on a weekend where it’s suppose to be about love, and cry in the tub of a dusty hotel.

I was a liar. For the first time I didn’t care. I felt no sincerity in apologizing in my life. She would never understand, like she never truly understood me. Because in the end our friendship was nothing more than two people lying about who they really were.

I found everything I was looking for at the Hotel Chelsea, and I’ll never be alone.

 

Los Angeles, CA. 2009

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