Yesterday it was hot. Damn was it hot, but, in my suitably chosen floaty summer skirt and shoe string strap top, and filled with enthusiasm for what I would find, I was ready to face the sticky city.
As I left the station, I decided I needed to make a plan for how I’d spend my time before I met with a friend later in the day. So I set myself a task. When travelling alone I find it always helps to have a purpose; it keeps me engaged and stops me thinking too much. When I think too much, I miss what’s happening right in front of me, and there’s far too much I want to take mental pictures of to allow myself to be lost in my own thoughts.
So, stood outside Grand Central on East 42nd Street, I logged onto Trip Advisor and looked for a lunch spot. I chose a place that I knew would take some trekking, and allow me to suck in a few sights along the way. My lunch spot of choice was called Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company. People always talk about bagels being a New York thing, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I craved a bagel and Tropicana orange juice after seeing that advert with the ‘New York New York’ theme tune. So, it had to be a bagel.
I opted for a kalamata olive filling with a whole wheat bagel. I managed to eat half of it before I reluctantly had to throw the rest away. It seems every single filling is something mixed with oodles of cream cheese. I reckon there were more calories in that half a bagel than I should eat in a week. But man did it taste good.
After walking the streets for a little longer, taking numerous photographs of the hectic goings-on in Manhattan, and grabbing refuge from the heat in yet another Starbucks, I met up with a new friend.
I say new friend because yesterday was the first time we’d met. She’s a friend of a friend and happens to live in NYC. She’s also a writer and I’ve read a lot of her work, so I knew we had common ground. Prior to meeting her, I felt like I already knew her. In some ways, this was true, but writers seem to have a knack of sharing just enough to connect with their readers but never too much that they’re an open book. When we met in person, I saw new pieces of her jigsaw of personality that made her real, pieces that can never be seen through the written word.
It was wonderful to find someone in a strange city that I felt I could relate to, partly from an expat perspective, but also as a writer, and the more common introvert perspective that tends to come with the writer territory. We had a wonderful day, from enjoying wine in the sunshine on a terrace bar to gossiping over tea in Bryant Park. We ended our day with delicious Mexican food at Mexicue on 7th and West 30th Street. As I’m writing this, I feel like I’m already starting to sound like an American! The food didn’t rival Boxcar Cantina but after a hot, sticky day in the city it certainly hit the spot.
I thought spending time in New York City would make me miss city living, and miss the bright lights of London, but it didn’t. I was so happy to come home to my quiet neighbourhood in Stamford at the end of a long day trudging the flamboyant, bustling streets of the metropolis. Maybe it’s an age thing, but as much as I love the city, I love suburbia more.