New York continued
The heat was almost too much that night. I was literally drowning in sweat. So it shouldn’t have seemed so strange that I woke up very early on Sunday. But of course it’s summer and without a watch I had no sense of time when I left my room and went for a walk in Central Park. Which brings us to lesson number four.
The “City That Never Sleeps” actually naps a little
It took me a few minutes to realise, then I looked around. No more than half a dozen cars, mostly taxis were in the streets. Hardly any people were walking around. New York was eerily quiet. I figured I’d stepped into the Twilight Zone for a while until I saw a new type of traffic. The New York joggers. Hundreds of them filling the roads through the park as organised as traffic. In fact I had to stop at the crossing and wait until there was space to cross. A little while later I made my way back to the… well to call it a hostel would give it a lot more credit than it was due. I sorted out some money, put on my sunscreen and made my way out to see the sights, map in hand. But not before I thought I’d check in with reception to see if they had a New Jersey phone book. You see I had planned to meet a certain Doper or two while I was in New York and my severe planning failures meant I was in a bind to find them. But lo and behold the hostel seemed to have an ace up it’s sleeve with an internet terminal. So I sent out an email to our very own Hal Briston to arrange a get-together. Of course things never go to plan as you’ll see here
With the situation unbeknownst to me, I ventured out into the city making my way quite accidently to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I spent a good hour or so wandering around looking at all the pretty things. From there I decided I wanted to see the Empire State Building. So I walked around Central Park and down 5th Avenue or at least I thought it was down until I passed the Guggenheim and had to turn around. But thankfully my little mistake led me to find the preparations for what I was told was the Achilles Run, a marathon through Central Park by amputees. Now on the right track I started my walk to the Empire State Building which brings me to my fifth lesson.
When it’s hot, a walk can feel like eternity.
I got as far as the Public Library before I needed a break. I just never realised it could take such a toll on me to walk that far. But feeling rested (and more importantly cooler) I finished the trek. And faced a two hour wait in line to get to the observatory floor. I almost turned around but figured I had put too much effort in to just walk away. So when I saw the chance to skip the queues for a few more dollars I jumped at the chance. A elevator ride or two later. I was looking out at the whole of the city. Well just about, considering the smog. I got to see the Statue of Liberty which was about as large as my fingernail and after that standing as high as you can get above New York lost it’s novelty. So a couple of souvenirs and a drink later I was back down on ground level. It was sometime in the afternoon by then and the homesickness was hitting me again. I wondered where the best place to make an international call would be and, for some reason, Penn Station hit me. So off I went, through what I think might have been Chinatown until I got to the station. The temperature was rising and I was just happy to be inside in the shade. One phonecard later I tried calling Lauren. Now one thing you should know is that Lauren was in Spain at this precise moment so I had to negotiate with the hotel receptionist who seemed to lack any skill in the English Language. No-one was in. I asked to leave a message, he gave me a speech in Spanish and hung up the phone. Great. I was bummed to say the least. It was the hottest weather I’ve ever been out in. I was something like 3 miles from the hostel and I was the most depressed I had been since I had arrived. But New York has a way of keeping you going and almost as soon as I left the station a girl approaching me. This is what happened:
Me: :dazed and confused:
Her: Hi. Do you have a cell phone?
Her: I was just wondering if I could have your number.
Me: … I’m from England …
Her: Okay. Never mind.
I didn’t get it and it was enough to confuse me into getting on my way back home. And it was a long walk, very, very, very, very, very, very looooooong. Unbelievably long. Tediously long. Really quite long. I didn’t think anything could get worse. Then I receive Hal’s email. It’s safe to assume that I was pretty depressed. I had one last shred of hope. I go outside to a payphone, dial some numbers for 5 minutes and get the Spanish hotel again. Luckily it’s not the man from before but a woman, a nice woman, an english-speaking woman. She puts me through to the room. And after too many days I finally hear my baby’s voice. And instantly I feel better and everything just floods out of my mouth like I’m 6 years old again. We talk for a while and after a couple cigarettes I go to my room and sleep a bit better.
TO BE CONTINUED.
p.s. I just wanted to say hello to Hal and kitten and hope you guys had a happy anniversary. (a bit late I know)