A bit like how pieces of music have tempo, so does this post. I find it’s best read allegro, with a moderato finish.
Leaving behind a sunny London – coming into a rainy New York City.
Plane people disembarking, border control scanning, stamping and waving, luggage carouseling, trolley wheel wobbling, taxi driver smiling. A phone call home from the back of the cab is just perfect.
Sitting in Starbucks on the corner of 87th and 3rd, waiting for an unknown person and some apartment keys. The key master is late, the banter with the staff and the cappuccino is warm, and the people come and go. I believe the keys will come and I’m slightly twitchy after the long flight and I want to get downtown. Places to go, people to see. Exchanging texts with apartment owner and friend downtown.
Keys in hand, tiny apartment entered, bag dropped. Subway. Hot, humid and busy. Struggling to get my bearings it takes time to realise I am on the local (slow) train platform. Down another level – onto the express. Deeper down, hotter, sweatier. Change at Union Square – tiny statues all over the station bringing memories flooding back, familiar ground. I turn a corner and there’s the guy on the drum kit again, bashing out train rhythms as people come and go. He was here the last time I was here two years ago, familiarity levels rising, confidence returning, pace quickening. Click clack, paradiddle, click clack paradiddle. Hot.
Spat out at 8th street into a warm, wet night. Find the White Horse….where’s the White Horse? Looking for Hudson Street, misty rain, plenty of people moving with purpose, and me. I ask where – they don’t know. I keep going and with a couple of nudges via text, I find the White Horse. More importantly I find Katie. Friends in London, a chance meeting thousands of miles from home. We talk work, life, travels, politics, music. We drink a beer, Katie tells me the White Horse is where Dylan Thomas ended it all in a sea of alcohol. She heads off to a concert, I order a grilled cheese sandwich, watch college football and have another beer. The sandwich and the beer went down a treat. I can’t write poetry like Dylan Thomas but I’m confident I’m getting out of here alive.
The rain stops, I walk back up Hudson Street avoiding puddles and taking in the atmosphere. Tempted to just throw myself into West Village nightlife, and tired enough to know that wouldn’t be a good idea. It’s almost 10 pm by my watch, and 3 am by my body clock. A quieter, slightly less steamy tube ride syncs wonderfully into place. Sliding doors and all that. Nearly home, I spy a Barnes and Noble bookshop, still open. I go in and wander about, watching staff restack and restock books. I think I am the only customer, except I’m not buying anything so a little awkwardly, I sneak out. Maybe I’m just tired, but there’s something uplifting about finding a book shop open, doing its thing at 10.15 on a saturday night.
And so to bed. I love it here.