There’s nothing I can tell you about New York that you haven’t already read or seen in one of the bajillion movies featuring this iconic city. I can only give you my version. And my version, my very, initial, impression, comes 29 hours after landing from a 24 hour flight from Adelaide, South Australia. So let’s start at the beginning.
The idea to visit NYC stemmed from my obsession to experience all-things-Beatle. Needless to say, I got the Dakota (the place where John Lennon took a bullet that ultimately killed him) done and dusted within a few hours of landing. It had to be done.
It’s now a day-and-a-bit later, Saturday night, and I am in a local eatery especially chosen due to its wifi, so as to be able to pen this post whilst having dinner. I’m sitting in a booth, and what I see around me is typically American, if I was to form judgment from the minimal television and movies I’ve seen in my time. There are 3 drunk boys-come-men with the same college hair cut being all loud and fun falling over each other at the bar in front of me. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born In The USA’ is playing and I’ve just ordered fries. Call me cliche, and I may well be, but I also like fries. I really do.
To the left of the college boys is a 50-ish year old man with a 20-ish year old woman. He’s doing all the talking and she’s doing all the wincing. There’s a lot to be said for body language. But still he continues to chat her up and buy her drinks. Oh! And now they’ve just left together. What does this tell me? People’s needs may not be the same, but as long as one’s version of giving love fulfils the other’s version of receiving love, a relationship is at the very least half way there.
And so here I am, in New York City. A place I know so very little of. Perhaps because I don’t read much. Perhaps because I fall asleep watching movies (bajillions of them). Or—now here’s a theory—perhaps because I operate at my best when faced with the unknown and I psychologically hijacked each attempt to learn about somewhere I’ve long wanted to live and work.
I don’t really believe that, but anything is possible. Remember that. Anything is possible.
The vision of researching and planning my time here simply did not eventuate. Life got in the way. Like John Lennon said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
I had imagined that I would play Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind as the plane landed, and I did. Four times even. I cannot tell you how often I have sung and rejoiced in that song, with sheer exuberance for life. But the joy and anticipation of living that moment wasn’t to be. What can I say? When it came to the reality of that point in time in my life—a moment I had dreamed about for 15 years or more—my heart and mind were in a different place. My whole being was caught in a stop sign and New York itself was a highway. Our meeting was a clash of spirituality.
In any case, I fumbled my way through the airport, and I took a yellow cab to my apartment in anticipation of the twelve days ahead in beautiful, beautiful, Upper West Side. After an ace greeting from my host and a welcomed suggestion for how to spend my first night, me and my jet lagged arse went to Central Park to see a free, open air cinema screening of Desperately Seeking Susan. Read the last few lines of my most recent blog post to understand just how ironic this is. The other irony of it all is that the girl who falls asleep in 99 per cent of movies (moi), was just about to watch her fourth movie in 24 hours. It was a night to be savoured in so many ways.
I was one of two thousand sitting in the ambience of a summer’s night in Central Park watching Madonna, Rosanna Arquette and a few other decent actors (including my host’s ex-boyfriend) in this classic 80s movie. The fit-focussed New Yorkers jogged past. Police patrolled. And the two girls just in front and to the left of me ignored both of these and lit a spliff. The smell of gunja was extra sweet in the Manhattan air. And so, though my journey to that point in time wasn’t pleasant, I began to have faith that the rest of the trip would be. I’m big on faith. It’s the essence of who we are.
On my walk home at 10:30pm the streets were still alive. You know the saying; the city never sleeps! I stopped and chatted to a man walking his dogs, named Nicky and Maggie. I needed a canine fix. He was quite nice too. Funny that I came to know the dogs’ names but not his. The whole thing was very New York. I don’t know any other way to describe it. I got to hear all about his daughter and her travels around the world. One year’s worth of venturing, he told me, to every country you can possibly think of. He went on to subtly express his disappointment in her lack of appreciation of the experience he had gifted her. I nodded with acknowledgement and understanding. He needed it. Why else would his conversation have steered that way? We people need to listen to each other.
Further on the way home I stopped for some Italian food simply because you can do that late at night in a big city. I am feeling very Italian here. Fuck knows why.
As an aside, have you noticed that Fuck knows a lot of things? We should not just give a Fuck, we should ask a Fuck. So ask-the-Fuck away people. Because Fuck knows that knowledge is a powerful thing and ignorance is no excuse.
My lovely informative host was still awake when I arrived home. We talked and we talked more. She took me to the top floor of our apartment building and I was able to photograph the New York skyline. How amazing. How special. How very real this was all becoming.
Back in the apartment we cracked a bottle of Californian red wine and as I recounted my first 7 hours in NYC and my first evening in Central Park, she turned to her laptop to play some tunes. It was The Beatles. I do believe my reaction was, “Are you serious?!“. She had just made my first night in my dream city a dream come true.
At 3am we both agreed it was time to sleep; in the city that never sleeps.
Today was my inaugural day in the Big Apple. I was a tourist and I have to admit, I don’t like them, and I don’t want to be one. I’d much rather blend into the melting pot of the city I’m in. I want to become one with those whose feet frequent the footpaths each and every day. Walk fast, look like you know where you’re going. Should you not know where you’re going, step aside and have regard for those who do.
Because whatever you’re desperately seeking, and whatever in life is happening to you while you’re busy making other plans, you are not the centre of the universe. We are all one in this wonderful melting pot of life on earth.
New York, I love you, and you have inspired me. Just like I always knew you would.