OH NEW YORK CITY, SO RUINED BY ITSELF…
..a wonderful piece of shit : rats carved out of bone, dodging the rattling subways and shaking themselves awake to scurry ’round confused people, who measure their tragedies against those of their neighbour. A city of immigrants in transition, enduring breakfast, lunch and dinner in a traffic jam, a people jam or a subway jam. And we can’t fully let go of it. Beautiful chaos! (Apologises to Nicodemus Nicoludis.)
Five weeks isn’t enough. As regular readers will know, this wasn’t our first holiday in New York and it sure won’t be our last. The five of us are breathless after it ; wrecked, shattered, exhausted, broke – unhinged, even, and not willing to settle back into our ‘normal’ routine. Indeed, not able to settle back into our normal routine, and not even prepared to try and do so. We never had an experience like it and we know we never will again. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day of those five weeks we were alive and in our element. It’s the place where we are meant to be. That city suits us – the pace it moves at, the easy ability to blend in, the concrete atmosphere, the noise, the smells, the heat, the ignorance and arrogance of it, the callousness and cruelty we witnessed and, above all, the different ways which New Yorkers (and guests) coped and/or attempted to cope with those attributes : some fought back with kindness and generosity but others let it get to them and turned, temporarily, ignorant and arrogant. And maybe that’s why they named it twice – despite ‘all the scandal and the vice’, the city and its people have a heart of gold.
One of the many homeless people we encountered in New York – collecting empty ‘soda’ cans and empty plastic water bottles from trash cans in the streets,for which one of the many recycling yards will pay six cents per unit. We witnessed, and talked to, more elderly than young people engaged in this endeavour.
We gave him a fiver, and told him if he has a similiar sign re Clinton, we’ll give him another fiver!
We landed in JFK airport at about 2pm their time on Saturday 16th July 2016 and were loudly met by two of our friends, Shay and Emma (hugs and kisses all ’round!) and, when we eventually got to the arrivals lounge, Joel had arrived in a huge ‘town car’ and, after even more hugs and kisses (!), we loaded our bags into the car and our two-car convoy headed to the Bronx, where Pat, Frank and Sam had the beautiful apartment ready for us, and the kettle boiled! We were there for hours, chatting, then we put our stuff away and headed out for a walk around the neighbourhood, a by-now familiar territory.
The 3rd Avenue subway station in the Bronx – although Joel insisted we call him whenever we were ready to hit the town, we used the subways and busses to get there (wherever ‘there’ was!) and would usually give Joel a call to collect us, if he didn’t mind. He never complained once, bless him, even though it would be very late (or very early in the morning!) and we would probably have been tired and emotional (!) by that stage…!
During our evening strolls in the Bronx we met loads of fellas and girls that had befriended us over the years and all of them had a story to tell about our previous visits (blush blush!) and arrangements were made for two weeks worth of sight-seeing. And, somehow, we managed to squeeze what must have been about six weeks worth of partying out of those two weeks in the Bronx, included in which were two roof-top parties and four occasions where we toasted the sun coming up over the NYC skyline. Unbelievable and breathtaking.
Five of us went out on one of many such strolls through whatever neighbourhood we happened to find ourselves in : I took the pic of my two friends as the three of us were out searching for the other two. Found them, about an hour later, in a shopping mall…!
Our third week (despite the protests of all our friends in the Bronx, who wanted us to stay in the area, offering us alternative accommodation!) found us in Queens, in a fantastic and spacious apartment, where we would have been waited on hand and foot by Kevin, Heno, Mel, Larry and the girls and our other friends in that great borough had we wanted – but we didn’t stand still long enough for any of them to catch us, never mind to keep up with us, although we did have a big, kick-ass picnic in Kissena Park, at which about thirty of us sat for a few hours in the shade of old trees and had our fill of food and drink on a hot day and then quenched our thirst and relaxed again in the evening with a few beers (and ciders!) in The Courtyard Bar, in Sunnyside. Oh the simple pleasure of having nothing to do and all day to do it, especially when you’re in New York!
We had the pleasure of moving between Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen for our fourth week, with Liz and Susie, their fellas and our friends from previous visits all making sure we were comfortable, and we took full advantage of the brilliant sunshine in the many parks and basketball courts in those boroughs to rest in and recharge ourselves for the actual shopping and window shopping that we over-indulged in. It’s days like those that you don’t want to end – in the middle of a stampede of time-poor people yet able to move in any direction at your own pace. It’s simple things like that that help you appreciate your surroundings. Our final week – for this year, anyway – was enjoyed in a scrumptious apartment in Brooklyn, from where we went dancing in Williamsburg and scoffed ice-cream cones in Coney Island, and had great craic altogether for a few hours with a group of men, in their late 60’s and early 70’s who, as we found out afterwards, were retired ‘wiseguys’ and “would be best avoided” ; no doubt in their youth that would be the case but, at all times while they were with us, they were gentlemen to a tee and treated the five of us with the utmost respect and courtesy, and insisted on walking us back to the subway station that evening and staying with us until Joel arrived to collect us at midnight.
‘Wiseguys’ stay out of hot water at Coney Island!
Which, when you think of it, is emphatic for New York life itself – very capable of doing you harm if approached in the wrong manner but the best company to share time with otherwise! And a special mention here for Joel who, as always, looked after us like we were family, and for whom no job was too big or too small, too early or too late. As you can imagine, collecting five ‘merry’ Irish women at, for instance, 4am, requires a certain ‘understanding’ on any man’s part!
Anyway : we’re home now, with our new shoes and handbags and all our other new and bargain-priced acquisitions and all our new reminders, memories and pics of the most unreal experience we have ever had in each others company in all the years we’ve known each other. And we want to do it all again. We will!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.
(We’ll be back to normal blog business soon but, for now, my head is not quite ready for it and my heart is still apple shaped…)