I realise that I haven't written since before K and I went to Noo Yawk in September. There's no real excuse for this because I probably could have found the time if I'd tried harder. But I'm glad I didn't. Things have been somewhat crazy and calm all at once; this strange state was preserved by a practice of reflection, I think. I've been keeping a journal again, a doing which had gone undone while I was farming. I plead exhaustion, emotional and otherwise. But now I feel ready to write, at least for a while.
K and I left for New York at 9pm from Toronto. We were both fairly fresh and excited; such was our enthusiasm that even another nightmarish run-in with US border
Being in New York for the first time is like experiencing your first crush or relationship. You find everything endearing at first; every crowded street, every corner of Central Park, every tiny and slightly overpriced cafe, the vintage stores littering every block of the Lower East Side. It's all splendid. And then you get to know it a little better. Those charming subway rides feel longer and sweatier. The museums aren't quite what you were expecting. Broadway is as tacky as it is long. Poverty and obscene wealth exist side by side to the most excruciating degree. The streets are tinged with ugly. And then, after you spend a little while being disillusioned and feeling betrayed in an odd way, you see something. A feature you didn't notice before, even when you were first so clearly enamoured. People sell used books on every corner. The city noise is constant; the varying absurd emergency sirens make you laugh. Every little neighbourhood has its own distinct flavour, in no way manufactured or even homegrown but instead created by the exact shape of every single person currently standing within its geographical limits. And suddenly, all things considered, you decide that maybe you do- kind of, sort of, a little bit- heart New York.
Something else I discovered in that city was a friend. I thought I knew K before we left the farm and perhaps to some extent I did but I only knew the real person after seven days of New York madness. I can genuinely say now that I love her. We both saw each others' ups and downs and collectively experienced the shock to the system that big city/travel living gives you after months of organic farming. We lamented how our clothes, hair and bodies stank, how crowded the subway was, how everything felt so loud. We couldn't seem to sleep in (I certainly couldn't stay up) and we unabashedly judged the over-sized, unnatural-looking fruit that was sold by street vendors. We appeased each others' bad moods and bitched about hostels and their abominable prices and worse receptionists. I don't mean to give the impression that we only bonded over bad stuff; we also had a hell of a lot of good stuff. On our first morning we wandered the ridiculously large Times Square Toys "R" Us while eating over-sized cupcakes for breakfast.We hung out every night and chatted about anything and everything in a weirdly Woody Allen-way with a Manhattan setting and respective clusters of neuroses. We went to amazing museums like the Met (and the Cloisters; K's favourite) and searched out used bookstores and Jewish delights (knishes, bialys, pickles... love). On our last night we caught the Staten Island ferry at sunset and ate cheap pretzels with mustard in the ferry terminal. Saying goodbye to K was maybe the hardest goodbye yet; knowing I might never see people again has made getting close to them sort of painful but this was on another level. Here was a girl I could imagine being in my life for years that I had to somehow say goodbye to; face to face. I've noticed that when I say "so long", I have serious trouble looking people in the eye and more trouble saying something meaningful or eloquent. This situation proved no exception. But she had a bus to catch and so did I.
[Mammoth blog catch-up to be continued...]