The facade of the Manhattan skyline resembles an ECG on steroids. It’s quite appropriate for a city with its own heartbeat. Towering buildings sit side-by-side and there appears to be no two rooftops the same level. There rains hope for the dreams of optimists.
This morning in my bedroom, on the top floor of the nine storey Co-op in which I’m staying, I woke to a chorus of raindrops on these rooftops. It was welcome respite from days of heat.
The noise reminded me of the tap dancer at last night’s Amateur Night held at the world-famous Apollo Theater. He was good, but the audience was better. It rained talent on and off the stage.
I have to hand it to the Americans. They know how to raise the energy. Speaking in general, they get involved in what’s going on around them and they don’t mind the sound of their own voice. Granted, sometimes the volume is way too loud and the subject matter is much ado about nothing. But how else do you get noticed in New York, a city that rains 8.3 million people onto its pavements daily?
I reflected on the night before as I lay in bed. There was a couple of black ladies in the Mezzanine whose heckles were worthy of winning gold should heckling ever become an Olympic sport. The host—to his credit—continued unperturbed, but the off-stage antics soon became unbearable even for the most seasoned showman. He dug deep and retaliated with jibes about their potato salad. The joke was slightly lost on me, but I figured Jamaican women must have a thing for their spuds. The theatre was in fits of laughter, as was I. His comments could have been construed as misogynistic, I’m sure, but let me put this in context by saying that he himself was black, and as far as I was concerned the potato salad reference was nothing more than a “return serve” to shut these ladies up. It worked, and the whole episode added to the evening’s banter. I’ve been told it rains prejudice in America, but I haven’t seen it yet, not towards blacks nor women.
I jumped out of bed, freshened up and headed out for the day. It wasn’t long before I noticed that the rain had cleared the humidity, which I hear was even worse before I arrived. I did not know that New York was a city of such extremes in temperature. But it does get hot, even for a seasoned Aussie. And it gets very cold too. I know because I’ve seen Elf (so it must be true), which brings me to my next point – that New York rains extremes.
When it comes to lifestyle, there are the ridiculously wealthy with $53m apartments in the prestigious zip code of 10021. This, in contrast to the beggar just two miles away, who lies on the floor too tired and weak to ask for money, at 116th Street Subway Station. I crossed his path during my train ride this morning and it got me thinking.
I haven’t been exposed to as much homelessness as I anticipated, but this could be due to the extent of my wanderings rather than the actual plight of the city. I questioned how I could scurry past him, and the others for that matter, as if I had somewhere more important to be. (On holiday?) It didn’t seem just. Neither did the fact that a less-fortunate American should affect me more than one from my hometown of Adelaide. Yet there in itself is a lesson.
We turn a blind eye to that which we see every day. What is commonplace is taken for granted, even our relationships. It’s when we expose ourselves to new surroundings that our hearts are moved and eyes are opened. This is uncomfortable for those who prefer safety in the form of days that are constant. But for lovers of adventure, any experience that brings new thoughts to mind is a breath of fresh air.
One last thing about this morning’s happenings…
There’s this myth amongst Australians that you can’t get a good coffee in America. Pfft to that! I googled “good coffee NYC” and off I went to Culture Espresso, 72 W 38th Street. It did not disappoint.
So if you’re looking for stimulation, renewal, vibrance and somewhere to get rained on, I strongly suggest a visit to New York. NYC reigns. And I need not take good coffee for granted just yet.