1. Listening in
One of the perks of travelling by yourself is that you can listen in to other people’s conversations, giving them your full attention. It’s risky as sometimes you get more than you’d want. Like the guy in the lounge at Auckland airport. He’d taken the toddler approach of, if I can’t see you, you can’t see me, turning himself to face a corner and talk in his outside voice to his luvvverr about what he was going to do to her when he could next get away from his wife. Noice. All with sound effects and terrible dirty talk. (As in, he was terrible at it.) By all means get down and dirty with your, wah hey, I know you want my whamming whatsit etc. but please, please don’t do it in a baby voice. I know. I realise I’m sitting in judgement of a cheater who not only put his lover on speaker phone (!) and was wearing a jacket with leather elbow patches (not ironically) but really, who am I to say what is or isn’t acceptable public sexy talk.
Where was I going with this?
Yes, listening in. I love it. The good, the bad, the ugly and the New Yawky.
After I arrived in New York (I will always and forever love saying that. Ask me how many people I told on the plane. Everyone, that’s how many! Cool as a cucumber, me.) I dropped off my bags, disinfected every surface area, showered and went out for sustenance and Vitamin D ‘cos that’s what beats jet lag, the experts say. I found the perfect almond milk, decaf, extra, extra hot flat white and parked myself behind a guy on the phone. He was loud. Everyone was loud, actually. Even I had to get loud because the waitress couldn’t understand me. Luckily, I pick up accents super-fast and repeated my order back in perfecto Americano.
This guy though, he’s definitely going to move to LA. This town’s dead, why should he go down with it? Max (Max? Anyone? Never heard of him.) has gone gold with a hit record and it was because of him and him alone (was Max lip syncing?). He’s going to be huge. HUGE, I tell ya! So, yeah, LA, this guy’s got contacts. This is it for him. Yet it wasn’t till the end of this largely one-sided convo that he mentioned he hadn’t told his wife yet.
Waddaya gonna do?
2. The kids
I’ve been awake all day. (Quite proud of this fact although I am starting to fade and might need to finish the large-ish bag of dark choc pretzels I brought from Whole Foods.) I ended up exploring the neighbourhood, which I should explain isn’t where I thought it was. Many years ago, I stayed in Greenwich Village (think brownstones and Sex and the City), close to the Upper West Side. That would be the Upper WEST Side, not Upper Manhattan which is like saying you live in Epsom South when you live in Mt Roskill.* Well this Upper Manhattan is in the depths of Harlem where once upon a time a native New Yorker took me through in a cab (after we’d been warned to lock the doors and not look anyone in the eye) and it was somewhat terrifying due to the guns being touted by kids on corners, tucked inside their jeans so they were just seen and men with bandanas yelling things at us. We just slithered on down the plastic covered seats like the cowards we were and beat it back to Park Avenue. Or the hood as we liked to call it.
Today though, this incredible, diverse, bursting at the seams city within a city is something else. I walked for over three hours and not just in circles (although there were a few repeat circuits) and found myself in something like a movie set, once walking accidently through a funeral procession filled with such joyous singing as they moved onto the street that I was smiling back at everyone like it was a party. (That I wasn’t invited to.)
And the kids. Ah, the kids. One, when I stopped to use my phone was yelling at me to open the door for him. At first, I looked around for the adult, then realized it was me. He was bossy, he was a mini eighty-year-old Italian man in the body of a five-year-old boy and he wasn’t messing around. I had to disconnect and open the damn door. Twice.
Then another one, slightly younger and wearing a bow tie told me to shut the hell up lady, when I was attempting to Insta story near him using his own phone! He looked like he could take me on so I did what I was told.
*Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all. It’s just porky pie real estate talk and confusing as feck when you’re using Google Maps.
There’s an energy here that you either love or not, and I LOVE it. Which is interesting because I am definitely someone who needs my own space and quiet time and this city is loud, vibrating and just plain in your face.
Although you can easily enough find those small side streets where the noise dissipates with less hustle and bustle even if only for a short stretch. Or, like a white noise machine the voices and traffic can eventually become a backdrop, to be used as such rather than endured. Still, at heart, it really is the city that never sleeps and the very air is filled to overflowing with busy.
I’ve always heard that one of the great things about living here is that you can sob or rant or laugh hysterically to yourself and nobody will pay you any attention. (Not in a crazy way, more of in a private way except you’re on the subway or walking down the street.) Which could be thought of as a sad way to live but I think it works both ways. I find I relax into the anonymity of it more; as someone who is naturally self-conscious it allows me to feel freer and more confident simply by mimicking those around me. At the same time people will talk to you. They’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong or right, sort you out and share their stuff. Sometimes for a long, long time; sometimes when you never, not once, brought up the topic of whether cousin Claudia should have her tubes tied because of what happened to their other cousin who didn’t but should’ve.
I’ve been awake all day. And I can’t wait for tomorrow.
Found my closest yoga studios too and they’re both Bikram! We’ll see about that but can’t wait to get on the mat and stretch out these last few days.
Too much New York? Just say the word and I pop some of my fave recipes up. Hehe.
Photo by Freddy Marschall
© The Yoga Connection 2017