The desperate search for a bathroom in New York City teaches one much about the surrounding world and one’s place in it. With my pockets empty but my bladder and small intestine poised to burst, I stilt down 9th Avenue struggling to maintain the poise and composure necessary for the daily fight to satisfy basic bodily functions in a city that does not want, need, nor give the slightest inkling of a fuck about me. When the west side of 9th Avenue meets 35th St, the sidewalk ends and a metal railing prevents pedestrians from crossing a double lane of traffic bound for a smoggy crawl beneath the Hudson River. This forces foot traffic to the east side of the street, lest the pedestrian wishes to hop a metal railing — a maneuver uncomfortable on a good day, but quite impossible in my current situation. I jog in place as I wait to cross, rapidly clenching and unclenching, digging my fingernails into my palms, and trying to think of anything besides the unbearable tension my body is poised to unleash at any moment regardless of whether I find a socially acceptable place to do it. I wait for the light to turn red, or at least for enough space between cars for me to dart across the street, dodging cabs, cyclists, delivery drivers, and those chosen individuals self-important enough to drive their personal car through Manhattan and greet traffic congestion with righteous disbelief each day afresh. Gradually, I become aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world, overflowing with luxuriant lush forests in which to relieve oneself to one’s heart’s content. Its vanished trees — the trees that had made way for restaurants with bathrooms for paying customers only, public toilets long closed due to budgetary constraints, and draconian laws punishing anyone forced to relieve themselves outdoors, unless they happen to be privileged enough to be born a dog — these trees had once pandered in whispers to the heartiest of all human bowel movements. For a transitory enchanted moment man must have unleashed his fluids and solids in the presence of this continent, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity to urinate and defecate endlessly and without impediment. And as I bounce in place humming a frenetic tune and brooding on the old, unknown world, I think of my wonder when I first picked out the green Starbucks sign from blocks away. I had come a long way to this faux indie coffee house with pictures of exploited bean farmers adorning the walls, and somewhat less exploited service workers forced to force conversations with customers. My dream seemed so close that I could hardly fail to imagine the ten head line of fellow jittering dancers-in-place which stood between my tumultuous insides and their fleeting relief. I did not know then that relief was already behind me, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night — and that this particular franchise did not have the goddamned common courtesy to provide a bathroom open to the public. At this moment it strikes me, as if I didn’t know, that for all this city cares, if you don’t have any money, you can piss and shit yourself and lay down in the middle of the goddamned street and starve to death while passersby step over your body and curse the inconvenience.