Douglas Messerli founded Sun & Moon Press and its successor, Green Integer. An excerpt from his manuscript “Nine Nights in New York” appears in Golden Handcuffs Review, v.1 no. 8. There are no dates in the piece, though internal clues suggest the mid-70s.
Among the stories Messerli recounts about his first months in New York is one amazing coincidence:
“Upon completing my junior year of college at the University of Wisconsin, I was nearly desperate to get to New York City.” He snagged a ride with “ a co-worker … and her husband. [After a meandering trip] we … stay[ed] with her husband’s brother and wife in a small apartment on 72nd Street.”
Though Messerli had no idea how he was going to live in New York – he hadn’t even told his parents he was going there! – he managed to find work and places to stay, including apartment-sitting for a puppeteer on tour, and the YMCA.
“I had still failed to inform my poor parents that I was in New York! Today, it seems unbelievably cruel of me … my parents would be terrified by my unexplained absence … My only excuse now is that I was young … Life was exciting.
“One evening during my tour of the various bars, I met a young man who, following the usual pattern after hearing of the far-away location of my habitation, suggested we go up to his place. … ‘I know this street,’ I blurted … I was more than a bit startled when he entered the same apartment building in which lived the relatives of my Wisconsin friends. I was even more overwhelmed … when he … opened the door to the very apartment where they had lived. ‘I just moved here a few months ago,’ he mysteriously reported …
“We had sex, and I was preparing to leave – or perhaps to stay for the night. I can’t remember my intentions. For before I could take any actions, the telephone rang. It was for me, reported my new friend. … ‘They asked for you.’
“’But no one knows I’m here.’ … It was my mother! Where was I? Where had I been? She’d had to call the University to find out that I’d gone away to New York with some friends, and they had told her that I’d stayed the first night with their relatives. My mother had called here now to find out if they knew where I might have gone. Why hadn’t I told them? Was I coming home? … She was in tears.”