At the beginning of October I went to New York for a week. I stayed with my American doppleganger and marvelous food godess Liz for the first half and in a hotel in Wall Street while attending Comicon for Inception Strategies for the second half.
I failed to go into any art galleries or see many of the sights! But I walked a lot, ate a lot and discovered why so many writers do love New York. I also got very sleepy and often fell asleep on Liz’s couch (when I wasn’t staying up to the wee hours of the morning). It was such a friendly city, a pedestrian’s city where any block would lead to something interesting. I scarcely got off Manhatten Island, but there must be adventures for other times.
Having left Seattle close to midnight I arrived at La Jolla Airport at 11am. Caught the bus to the subway. The bus-subway transfer is in a part of Queens that I imagine is not known for it’s grandeur. Vast snow drifts of rubbish were piled up on the sidewalk. It was quite extraordinary. The city had a sense that it knew exactly what it was doing and everyone in this space had their own stories that I was clearly not a part of. I felt terribly out of place, terribly white and terribly stupid for being monolingual. I felt certain that everyone else in this part of the world spoke at least two languages and my failure in having basic fluency in any second language made me brain damaged and unworthy of the city.
I secretly wondered what the story was as two women in glamorous skirt suits and high heels scowled and picked up tiny pieces of rubbish around a parked car. A policeman watched them with his arms crossed. It seemed a little incongruous given the vast snowdrifts of rubbish in other parts of the street.
The only sign I could see for the subway was for a tiny creaky elevator, so down I went into a hole in the sidewalk. A gentleman and his daughter joined me, which reassured me that this elevator was not an abattoir delivery mechanism. In the bowls of the subway I struggled to find my metro pass (purchased at the hudsons at the airport because buses don’t sell metro cards). At the entrance there were a couple of people proclaiming crazy random stuff… and were quite possibly the strangest, scariest people I encountered during my entire subway experience… or I got used to it pretty fast. The subways have their mysteries, but they have so many things to help you unravel their mysteries that I enjoyed them throughout my stay.
Subway successfully negotiated I got off at my stop and set out for the 20 minute walk through East Village and Alphabet District. It took me a few goes to figure out cardinal directions and set myself in the right direction, but googlemaps on an iPhone with plenty of data is a blessed thing.
On the way I made my first spontaneous decision and stopped to eat at a cheap, delicious looking place that proclaimed it did real Xian food. Xian is where the silk road connects to China and the marriage of middle eastern cuisine with chinese cuisine is something that fills my mouth with bliss. I wish I had made the time to eat there again and try their noodles, but the spicy cumin lamb sandwich was tasty, cheap and made me think of Mike (our backpacking honeymoon took us around China and he loved the sandwich pockets in Xian).
The first couple of day or two was a bit challenging as a learned the language of the city. More specifically Avenue D seemed to have a few different groups of folks hanging around cars that made me feel uncomfortable as I didn’t know them, they didn’t know me and I felt like there was a language/literacy component of knowing how to relate to each other as we went about our day. After a few days either I’d picked up enough literacy to understand the subtleties of different groups (high school, certainly my high school taught the value/fearful instinct of trying to read the difference between a group of people hanging out and a group of wolves looking for a deer) … Either I’d become more literate or we’d just got used to each other and I’d stopped worrying. A car honked and yelled at me for not crossing the street in front of it when it had a green light! I certainly felt like an alien, but nothing quite like walking a city to start to understand it. Walking in China certainly gave me good skills for walking in New York, although now I occasionally slip into New York ways of walking in Seattle (ie the pedestrian always has right of way regardless of traffic signals, eyeball the car with a green light and keep walking!)
And oh dear… I stopped writing at this point because I had to go do some silly real world work and now I’ve run out of puff! Anyhow, New York was wonderful.
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My apologies folks, this uploading to WordPress is slooow and driving me a little crazy. I’m going to pop stuff up on Facebook if you want to check stuff out (more graffiti and random public art, manequins and occasional food photography)! Shocking laziness! Feel free to berate me.
Lots of love