The Reluctant Adventurer

I’m moving to New York City.

For a month.

I’m researching a book in a series I’m writing (The Lost and Founds) and I convinced myself I must research neighborhoods in person. I need to take subways and study certain neighborhoods. I’ve got to find a few police stations for plot points I’m considering. Mostly, I’m going for smells and night-time observations. I want to feel the crush of people around me.

I’ve been reading books about New York City for a few months now, obscure books: immigration demographics from 1960s through today, secret underground tunnels and abandoned subway stations, old money families, and an incredibly detailed book about the habits of New York City’s rats. I’ve taped a giant city map to the wall in my spare bedroom with pins in locations I wish to visit.

Sounds fun right?

Springtime. New York. Sewer rats.

Sure. I’m excited.

Well, and also, a little bit terrified.

Okay, more terrified than a little bit.

I am not the adventurous type. I’m the guy who says, “When’s do the new episodes of Grimm start again?”

Adventure seems to find me, though. Gradually, I’ve learned that more weird things happen to me on airplanes than other people. The pot candy. The dog named Peepers. People tell me life secrets or I become the Vomit Whisperer in row 33C. I haven’t even dared to tell some of the worst airplane stories.

And it’s not just in the sky.

Adventure hunts me down on land in the form of a traveling yard zombie, the corpse stain on my kitchen floor, The Dickens Wedding. Four separate times in life people have assumed I was twin brothers. One woman thought I was twins for three months. That’s not normal, right? Once I came home from a business trip and found 50 photos of Kyle Feldman hidden throughout my house. Plastiqua.  The Secret Vodka Party. Adventure just sort of shows up in my life and–reluctant adventurer that I am–I keep saying, “No, no, I’m not ready.”

Doesn’t seem to do any good.

On the phone last night, I fretted to Ann about purchasing my round trip plane ticket to New York. It was time to make this trip official. I explained to her that ‘I can’t do this. I’m not this adventurous.’

She questioned the wisdom of saying, “I’m not this way.” Isn’t that rather limiting?

We reminded each other of a vacation together near the border of Belize, a time when I jumped out of our rental to get better photos of a fat python slithering into the Mexican jungle preserve. Probably wasn’t a brilliant move. We hadn’t seen people in the past three hours. We were deep into crocodile territory and we had been warned “they can really haul ass when they’re hungry.” Ann watched in surprised horror as I raced to the fat, fat snake.

I’m terrified of snakes, as in sick-to-my-stomach terrified.

But how often do you get to touch a honest-to-God jungle python?

Well, actually, Ann stopped me from touching it.

Adventure slithered off into the jungle.

I think my real fear is that I am prone to making an idiot of myself in an impressive range of behaviors, from intellectual buffoonery to slapstick to fucking up a person’s name six times in a row. (Oh, and Death By Wild Animals You Should Not Touch.) In New York City, with many more people around me in greater concentration, I’m bound to do something dangerous and humiliating, perhaps both at the same time. I prophesize this New York Post headline:  “TOURIST GETS MUGGED, HIT BY SUBWAY, RE-MUGGED ON SAME DAY. THEN, BIT BY A PYTHON.”

Adventure, you make me nervous.

Despite my attempts to find housing, I don’t have a place to live. I’m answering craigslist ads, putting my own ad out there, following a half-dozen websites recommended by friends. Friends of friends are asking around for me. A NYC friend promised me a room for a week. This reminds me that people are kind.

People will help you.

That realization makes me take a deep breath. People will help you.

A friend has agreed to house sit in my Minneapolis home for a full month. Yes, people will help you.

Still, the very act of living seems too adventurous some days, too hard. Some idiot(s) blew up the Boston Marathon a few days ago. I felt sick. I felt that way after Hurricane Katrina. After the Twin Towers were destroyed. After Sandy Hook Elementary School. Abused children, teen suicide, companies that swindle millions out of their retirement.

Some days, this life is too damn much adventure.

But people will help you.

People will help you.

I’ve decided to say yes to this New York adventure even though part of me also says, “No, not yet. I’m not ready.” Maybe I’m supposed to say ‘yes’ to life adventures like this one, to help prepare me for the big ones, the unhappy ones doomed to come into our lives. Maybe by saying ‘yes,’ my adventure muscle grows bigger.

I have no idea how the hell living in NYC for a month will turn out. Sure, I’m saying, ‘yes,’ but it’s through clenched teeth.

But I promise you this.

If the Post headline reads: RENEGADE TOURIST LIVING IN SUBWAY TUNNELS, please keep in mind it wasn’t voluntary.

The giant rats got me.



3 Responses to “The Reluctant Adventurer”

  1. Jeffrey Fillion Says:

    Cool… Part of me wishes I could go with. But not in the financial cards. I’ll have to do the Big Apple vicariously through ya. So… I hope you go to DC Comics and Mood Fabrics and the building that opened the portal to a hell dimension that was protected by a giant marshmallow man.

    Aw… heck… you usually have way better adventures than my imagination dreams up… so I am looking forward to your trip.

  2. Jo Broshar Says:

    Edmond, you will love the city and I am green with envy that you actually get to go there for a month! I will give you a bit of advice and you will not regret it. Buy that two day bus ticket on one of those double decker open air buses as soon as you get there. They go all over town and do a short blurb about each section of the city and you can get on and off all day and night and it is so much cheaper than a cab. This way you can familiarize yourself quickly with the whole town and then branch out into the different neighborhoods as you like the rest of the month. This just gives you a tourists view of the different parts of the city and you can then get a visual when you look at the map you will undoubtedly buy. I have many pictures on my facebook page of different places we have been so take a look. Don’t worry about not blending in, anything goes in that city! I wish you much luck and love in your travels to the big Apple!

  3. Tony Says:

    BLESSINGS! King E in NYC!!

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