New York, New York
The second half of 2014 was a hectic time for Milly and I. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing Melissa finally had a contract in her hands, our home in Melbourne was packed up, and we were readying ourselves for an indefinite amount of time living on the other side of the world.
Melissa arrived in Germany a full six weeks before me, and I used the intervening time to pack, sell and store whatever possessions we hadn’t already shipped, while working for another month. Since I had no pressing need to get to Germany, and since the tickets were expensive anyway, I decided to take my time getting to Europe, with a detour through the States on my way up. I spent a week at a beach house in sunny Dana Point with Milly’s family, and it was the perfect remedy for the cold, dreary, winter I had just left, and a much-needed pit-stop before the second consecutive winter I would soon be enduring.
I then flew across the country to New York, where I stayed for ten days with Milly’s Aunt and Uncle and their two sons. Those ten days were an awakening for me. I’m not sure how to describe what I expected of New York. To me it had always been the embodiment of impatience and excess, coupled with a desperate darkness clawing at the fringes of its day-glow nights. What I experienced was nothing like that.
I found the very touristy things the most depressing, because it just felt like the painted facade of a city, held up as people pass through. I got in touch with some friends and tried to have a more local experience, and I felt so much more fulfilled as a result. A free party sponsored by Hendricks; dive bars nestled in side streets and in basements; oily cheese pizza that comes in two flavours: round or square; espresso at a so-hipster-it-hurts coffee place. Seeing it on a page now doesn’t make it seem like much, but to me I was overjoyed to be having a different experience. The city wasn’t just “New York ™”, it was MY New York. I got to explore New York’s folds and cracks a little, and the unique, interesting things that emerged from this giant, faceless city really impressed me.
I feel bad that I didn’t give New York more credit to begin with. Of course it’s a large city, that seems the only way you can support such unique little pockets of quirkiness. It’s a cultural, political and business center, and those crossroads throw up diversity and opportunity in any way you’d care to describe it. I’m also glad that I had a low expectation, because it made the difference between my expectation and my experience – the oft told of “service gap” – so much larger. MY New York floored me, and I can’t wait to go back and continue mapping out its folds and cracks.
Please click here for a gallery of photos from my visit to NY in October 2014.