I have discovered that the way I prefer to travel is with extended layovers. By taking advantage of such I can see other places that aren't my destination, but none-the-less places I've never been and look forward to enjoying. London (England) was my first experience with this, and was so inspiring that I arranged to have two fairly significant layovers on my trip to Paris. The first (on the way there) was NYC, and though I only had a little over an hour to spend in the city I made sure to take advantage of it. After all... I had never been, and since two good friends of mine live there I had to make a run at the city. So what follows is my hour and a half in New York City!
Upon first arrival I was fairly surprised to see so much in reference to the World Trade Center ten years after 9-11
But I was none the less happy to see such signs. What impressed me most was the digital display on the subway trains.
It seems as though every place that I've traveled has better metro systems than Chicago. First Delhi, now NYC. I expect that London's will follow suit, though I can't knock the CTA; It cost me $17.50 to get to and from the airport in 2 1/2 hours - something that would have cost 2.50 (including two transfers) in Chicago.
The real point of my trip to NYC was to see two friends. Since I only had such a limited time in the city I resigned to the notion that I would never see everything, nor would I attempt to do as much as possible. Instead my focus was on seeing two friends. And my heart screamed how right this priority was
(Chris)Topher, a friend of mine who shared the same address as I at 420 Melrose in Chicago, had moved out of the city (and to NYC) a week before I did. Though we only spent a few months hanging out (and though I only knew him for those two months) we made a connection that most good friends have. He became the type of friend that I could call over to watch "Killers" just because it was terrible.
Janira I met along with Chen (another friend not pictured) on a train from Delhi to Mumbai. The three of us hit it off almost immediately. She had been traveling for a year and a half, and just a few months before my trip had returned to New York. We only spent a few days together (2 on the train, 2 in Mumbai) but again created a connection.
Before leaving Chicago (for this trip) I thought about what I wanted to do, if anything, aside from hopefully seeing friends. The memories of India rushed forward, and I was aware of what I had to do! The only thing I wanted to do in NY was get a palm reading, and only to fulfill a promise. When I last saw Janira we were walking down the road in Mumbai and passed several palm readers. Janira commented that we should get our palms read, and I mentioned that I had never had mine read. I was fairly uninterested to do so at the time, but told her that the next time our paths crossed, no matter where we were in the world, that I would get my palm read...
It was not wonderful. Such daring statements included "I see you taking a trip soon" (as if the 40 lb bag I had in tote wasn't a dead give away) and (upon learning that I write) that "I see you having success with a screenplay" (something perhaps almost every writer - aside from me - aspires to do). To explain how uninteresting it was perhaps a face would do best:
The worst part for me was that her cell phone kept ringing during our $25, 8 minute session, and that she repeatedly answered it. I like the idea of a person being able to be in touch with unworldly forces, but not the idea of being in touch with Craig the insurance guy. We were excited when it was finished
Perhaps the BEST part of my trip was to be able to do something totally NYC (or at least I have pictured it thanks to Hollywood). On a sweltering day, in the middle of summer, in the middle of the city, we found a hydrant rigged into a sprinkler!
So of course we ran through it!
I even got the opportunity to curb shame (the act of leaving someone on the curb who, though traffic permits it, refuses to cross the street because the little red hand signal tells them not to) dozens of New Yorkers!
And to top it all off, we got to see time square, where the only picture I was interested in taking was of this guy:
It was more amazing of a trip to NYC than I could have ever imagined. It truly warmed my heart that two friends dropped everything and cleared their schedules to make time to see me. It really drives the idea that good people find good people, and that in this world love and connections with others makes it all worthwhile. It doesn't matter what we're doing, but rather with whom it is with. I feel like a little kid ready to explore and take on the world.