Day Five: Almost Around

I sat on the steps of the New York Public Library, knowing that a dear friend was about to appear.  And here she comes … our arms open wide to each other.  Carolyne and I hadn’t seen each other for two years.  The moment was sweet.

We were off on a cruise that would encircle the island of Manhattan.  Once on board, we learned that Wednesday evening’s storm had dumped tons of debris into the Harlem River, blocking our way.  We weren’t shortchanged, however.  The ship took us up close and personal with shining skyscrapers and classic old apartment buildings.

At one point, Carolyne and I were joined by a gracious lady.  She was very tall and had a lovely green complexion.  For some reason, she kept her arm raised for the whole trip.  I didn’t catch her name.

Tim was the announcer on our trip.  He was full of good spirit as he told us story after story about NYC.  My favourite was when he pointed out the huge neon Pepsi-Cola sign on the east side of the East River, across from Manhattan. It was built many decades ago.  The story is that the Pepsi folks knew that the Chairman of Coca-Cola had a Manhattan penthouse that faced east.  So they put up the Pepsi sign that would greet him each morning.

You could tell that Tim loved his job.  He laughed a lot.

Carolyne and I had dinner at Jacob’s Pickles on the Upper West Side.  Speaking of which, I told her that I’d been using basic terms like “north” and “south” when talking to New Yorkers, and getting a few blank stares in return.  Carolyne educated me: the proper terms are “uptown” and “downtown”.  Who knew?

Anyway, back to pickles (fried that is).  Delicioso, especially when accompanied by honey chicken, a honey-laden biscuit and grits (a cornlike mush).  Praise the Lord and pass the chicken!  My stomach sang, until it got too tired to do much of anything.

I loved our wide-ranging conversations and our walk to Central Park.  We  passed ancient walkup apartments with scroll work on the stairways and walls.  And … on one little porch sat a husky, his head poking through the wrought iron railing, ready to be petted.  We did, and I’m sure the dog was smiling.  “He’s out here all the time,” Carolyne said. Talk about bringing happiness to the world.

Oh … and here’s a pic of a friend:

New York City

I’m back from nine days there and the feeling is so strong: I love the place. I think about it right now and start smiling. Woh. This is strange. I’ve been to other amazing cities over the years, such as San Francisco and Toronto, but none of them have forced my eyes open wide. Not even Vancouver, where the mountains meet the sea. I lived there for two years but it didn’t leave me shaking my head. But New York does.

So many people rushing down the street, ignoring red lights and “Don’t Walk” signals. Homemade signs next to giant neon. Impatient drivers honking at trespassers every minute or two. The wail of sirens flying to the next emergency. Subway trains available 24/7, and absolutely packed at rush hour. Musicians moving and grooving in the tunnels as five million people a day stream past. Impossibly tall buildings smushed up against each other, some built a hundred years ago. Canyons of wind. Seemingly a pub on every corner. The best bagels I’ve ever tasted. Endlessly helpful people for the Canadian who’s trying to find his bearings. Times Square! Broadway!

I’m a meditator. I like quiet. So what’s going on? How can this hustle and bustle feel like home? How come I slept through the noises of the night? Where, oh where, is this head of mine?

The rational mind can’t figure this out. And that’s fine. I’ll just let the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park beckon me back to the city … sometime soon. Next time I’ll come with a companion and we’ll trip the light fantastic. New York deserves all of our joie de vivre. I’m up for it.