I recently walked down that Second Avenue in Manhattan and I saw her, Lolita, the girl I met some twenty years ago when I landed at JFK Airport, like a cargo plane full of sweet desires and dreams. We were friends, we used to clean offices together in one building during the nightshift. She used to empty the waster paper baskets and I lugged around the heavy vacuum cleaner through the hallways and offices. We would often meet in a small cafeteria, drinking that aromatic coffee which was intended to keep us up, and we would look through the window at the lights of New York which promised, offered and spurred us on with its beauty and luxury.
Lolita had beautiful, dark, long hair, red juicy lips and eyes that incited those amorous passions, and the slim figure of an Argentinean ballerina that had outgrown the age at which she could practice that far from easy art of ballet. And I, who never did before in my life what I was doing now, but there it was – I had started my American adventure by cleaning offices. Other normal people were either sleeping or having a good time in bars and cafes, while we worked as cleaners in a great big building on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 37th Street. From time to time we would linger by the window, looking at the skyscrapers and avenues and asking ourselves: will this city fulfill our expectations or, to put it another way, does this city with a million light bulbs have a little love and happiness in store for us? We looked through the window sometimes right before dawn, already sleepy and tired, and again with another question we would hurry into a city that was just coming to life – how much effort and time is needed to get a bit of happiness and success in this colossus full of people like us? She wanted to open up a ballet school, and I had just one simple desire that was seemingly easy to fulfill: to find a girl and to start a new life with her in a new country, in the biggest city in the world, a life full of childish clamor and the beauty of simple living. I liked that Argentinean and my naïve and lonely heart chose her when one nigh, in a sprawling office, I made love to her gently on a leather couch.
"Joe, you are not the man I need. Both you and I need someone who has already made it, to drag us out of these stinking offices, you get me. And that's why we need to part ways. I like you, but dreams cannot be realized without sacrifices. You are my great sacrifice, Joe." That is how Lolita spoke when one day we parted and she cried, going away to work as a ballet instructor, and I found some house painter, Marko Krnja, from Brooklyn, who offered me a job as a painter.
"Many years have passed, Lolita," I said as we drank our drinks and ordered dinner. "The girl I was hoping to meet never showed up. It seems we missed each other. Many years have passed, but no girl proved to be the one for whom I swam across the ocean. A simple story, nothing happened, time flowed down the streets of the great city and I dreamed and believed and hoped, but nothing happened.