An astute friend of mine observed that New York is like America distilled. It’s like learning to drink on tequila. As the rest of my experience with America is exactly zero, I cannot vouchsafe the accuracy of this statement. But I will say it’s pretty goddamn intense, particularly because I’ve been in Japan for so long.
I made the cheapskate decision of taking the subway to my destination. Although it’s pretty grotty (I will never complain about Nagoya’s subway again, until next time I ride the Higashiyama Line), the subway itself was fairly eas… no, it wasn’t. It’s a weird incomprehensible rabbit warren. Everyone looks like the star of a TV show (or at least a major character). A guy with earlocks and a yarmulke came and sat near me and a group of Sikhs sat at the other side of the carriage. There were mutterers and chewing-gum-jawing nail-cleaning women making bad fashion choices. I needn’t have been so concerned about my wardrobe, it seems.
People here are pretty fascinating. Sometimes I can’t tell whether they’re speaking English or not. Everyone seems extraordinarily defined, although it might just be me matching patterns and seeking out the stereotypical. It’s really nice to be around people of all races and body types.
Anyway – to continue – after an excruciatingly long subway ride, I got out of the station and got really, really lost – being unaware that xth street East and xth street West are distinctly different places and very far apart. This culminated in me stopping to ask a guy who was holding a box cutter and doing something to his garbage for directions. (In retrospect this makes it sound quite hazardous, but he looked friendly.)
I told him my predicament. “Awww honey,” he said, and it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. He explained the route but suggested, full of the milk of human kindness, that I should get a taxi, because I had clearly been travelling for a long time. (I was lugging along all my stuff.)
So I tried flagging a taxi.
This did not work very well. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to do it but I tackled it by looking as conspicuous as possible and waving. Eventually one stopped (in the middle of the road, not pulled over), rolled down the window and yelled something at me. I tried to explain where I needed to go; he clearly had no idea what I was saying. At this point for no apparent reason he drove away – just drove away, without any kind of end to the conversation. He just looked away and pulled off.
I sort of may have slightly started tearing up a little. The stress and distance and lugging a tonne of luggage kinda got to me at that point. Of course, if you’re going to have a mini nervous breakdown on the street, history and Hollywood would indicate that New York is a pretty good place to do it. But I gave myself a mini talking-to, donned my big girl panties and soldiered on. I survived. Huzzah.
My hotel is in a pretty little street near a pretty little park. It’s quite old fashioned – lots of brown stone and architectural fussiness on the facades and elaborate railings and whatnot. It’s not too bad so far, although I’ve got a shared bathroom and there are old dudes on my floor. Hrmph.
Oh yeah, and for dinner I had a 1/2 pound beef burger (they didn’t have smaller ones; I asked.) I went to the place because it was convenient, although they had reviews up indicating that the place was quite well thought-of. It was pretty bland and not as good as Centre 4 in Takayama, so bam, take that. The waiter seemed perplexed by my refusal of coffee refills (everything in moderation guys).
Tomorrow I reckon I’ll got shopping and try to get some new shoes, and maybe also some yarn. Maybe I’ll hit up Barnes and Noble. Yay, America.
A for effort but C for taste: